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Dolphins, Jaguars talking Branden Albert-Julius Thomas trade

Two big deals look to be swapped.

The NFL will kick off the new league year on March 9 at 1 p.m. PT. That is when free agents can begin signing with other teams, and trades can be formally executed. We’ll hear plenty of rumors before then, but they can’t happen officially until March 9.

One deal that appears to have a decent chance of happening is between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Dolphins beat writer Omar Kelly is reporting the two sides are working on a deal that would exchange Dolphins tackle Branden Albert for Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas. Ian Rapoport followed up with a confirmation of Kelly’s report.

Both are reporting any deal would be contingent on the two players restructuring their existing contracts. Albert signed with the Dolphins in 2014, agreeing to five year, $47 million deal with an $8.5 million signing bonus. Thomas signed with the Jaguars in 2015, agreeing to a five year, $46 million deal with a $6 million signing bonus.

Albert is due to make $8.875 million and $9.575 million in base salaries the final two years of his contract. Thomas is due $7 million, $8.5 million, and $9 million over his final three years. They do not include guarantees on the base salary, so restructuring that might include a signing bonus for each player is a likely result.

I bring all this up in part because the 49ers head into free agency with all sorts of money to spend. Quite a few teams have significant cap space, and it is safe to say there will be a lot of bad deals handed out this offseason. The 49ers have an inexperienced general manager, but they have added some experience in Martin Mayhew. And while people are critical of Paraag Marathe’s involvement in some decision-making, his ability as a contract negotiator has proven valuable in recent years. With a huge rebuilding process in front of the 49ers, it will be interesting to see how the contracts shake out in for a front office that is seeing significant overhaul in the decision-makers.