Tyson Clabo will sign with the Dolphins (USA Today Sports Images)
The Miami Dolphins' nearly two-month search for a veteran offensive tackle will end with the team signing Tyson Clabo.
Clabo's agent, Chad Speck, announced the impending transaction on Twitter.
Miami had a void at the tackle position after allowing four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long to hit unrestricted free agency, where he signed a four-year, $34 million contract with the St. Louis Rams. By signing Clabo, the Dolphins appear set to move 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin to the left side, a position he struggled at while filling in for an injured Long during his rookie season.
The Dolphins had been interested in franchised Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, even bringing him in for a visit before the 2013 NFL draft, but the Dolphins and Chiefs could not agree to terms on a trade. Acquiring Albert would have allowed the team to keep Martin at right tackle, but based on their actions this offseason, the Dolphins appear confident that Martin can handle the task of protecting Ryan Tannehill's blind side.
Before Long officially left town, and before the interest in Albert heated up, the Dolphins were also interested in former Chiefs and Houston Texans offensive tackle Eric Winston, a University of Miami alum whose brother works in the Dolphins' scouting department. Like with Clabo, had the Dolphins signed Winston, Martin would have been on the move to the left side.
Clabo, 31, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2004 and bounced between the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and New York Giants before spending most the 2005 season on the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad. From 2006 through 2012, Clabo started 101 games for the Falcons, including 91 straight, which is the fourth-longest active streak among offensive tackles.
The Falcons signed Clabo to a five-year, $25 million extension following the 2011 lockout, a deal that paid out $11.5 million over the first two seasons. The Falcons released Clabo in April, designating him as a "post-June 1" release, which allows them to spread out his cap hit over the next two seasons. Clabo still takes up $6.05 million in space on the Falcons' cap, but that will reduce to $1.55 million on June 2 and he will count $3.1 million against the Falcons' 2014 cap.
Clabo was scheduled to earn $4.5 million from the Falcons this season and he is unlikely to make that up in his deal with the Dolphins. Miami had just over $10 million in cap room remaining this offseason and, as reported by "Shutdown Corner" on Friday, have the league's highest rookie pool number. The Dolphins likely leveraged the mutual interest in Winston to get Clabo to accept a team-friendly contract, perhaps even one for the veteran minimum ($840,000 base salary plus $65,000 in assorted bonuses).
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