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Dolphins land top free agent offensive tackle Terron Armstead, addressing glaring team need

How do you address what is likely the NFL’s most glaring hole at offensive tackle if you’re the Miami Dolphins?

You go out and land the most-prized free agent at the position in former New Orleans Saints left tackle Terron Armstead.

After a week-long wait filled with smaller moves, the Dolphins finally made their big free-agency splash, agreeing to terms on a deal with Armstead on Tuesday evening, according to a league source. Armstead announced his decision later Tuesday night with a social media video that channeled LeBron James’ famous “take my talents to South Beach” from 2010 NBA free agency.

The deal is reportedly for $75 million over five seasons, according to NFL Network. ESPN reported that it can reach $87.5 million with incentives and has $43.37 million guaranteed.

Armstead visited with the team Monday after arriving in South Florida on Sunday night. A New Orleans media report early Tuesday afternoon said he was still talking to the Dolphins, and a social media video later Tuesday showed him in Frisco, Texas.

The Armstead visit came shortly after former Dallas Cowboys right tackle, La’el Collins, probably the second-best tackle in this free-agent cycle, agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Collins’ decision, coupled with Patriots tackle Trent Brown deciding to stay in New England on Monday morning, gave Miami’s pursuit of Armstead an all-or-nothing feel for improvement at tackle since the Dolphins hadn’t locked in a player at the position since free-agent negotiations opened on March 14.

Armstead, who turns 31 before the start of the 2022 season, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 2018 to 2020. He has spent his entire nine-year career with the Saints as a third-round pick out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, blocking for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for much of that time.

Armstead will be paired with former Dallas Cowboys guard Connor Williams, who was Miami’s first offensive line addition of this free agency period, reaching an agreement last Tuesday. The two could make up a revamped left side of the line if they stay at their primary positions with their previous teams.

The Dolphins struggled at both tackle spots all season in 2021 with Jesse Davis on the right side and rookie Liam Eichenberg on the left side, as well as second-year blocker Austin Jackson before he was moved inside to left guard. All three are under contract for 2022, but Davis is a candidate to be released.

Armstead, at 6-foot-5, 304 pounds, figures to be a mauler for Miami’s run-blocking as new coach Mike McDaniel’s run-based offense will feature the outside-zone scheme. He could make a similar impact to Pro Bowl and All-Pro tackle Trent Williams for the San Francisco 49ers offense McDaniel previously coordinated.

The Dolphins’ pass protection for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa heading into his third season should also be improved. Armstead brings a veteran voice to a line that is relatively young, with Eichenberg, Jackson, Robert Hunt, Michael Deiter, Solomon Kindley, Robert Jones, Greg Little and Larnel Coleman all 25 or younger, as well as Williams.

While a premium NFL tackle, Armstead has also struggled to stay on the field in his career, missing roughly a third of his games. Armstead missed nine games in 2021, including the final four with a knee injury. He was out for the Saints’ 20-3 Monday night loss to the Dolphins on Dec. 27.

Miami’s addition of Armstead comes after the Dolphins also reached agreements with Williams, backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running backs Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, wide receivers Cedrick Wilson Jr. and Trent Sherfield, fullback Alec Ingold and cornerback/special teamer Keion Crossen as outside free-agent acquisitions.

They also locked in defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah to a four-year deal to keep him in Miami, and tight end Mike Gesicki signed his franchise tag tender after being placed on the tag. Linebackers Elandon Roberts, Duke Riley, Sam Eguavoen and Brennan Scarlett, tight end Durham Smythe, wide receiver Preston Williams and safety Sheldrick Redwine have also re-signed with the team. And cornerback Nik Needham had a second-round tender placed on him in his restricted free agency.


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