DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — New Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey stepped to the microphone and apologized for his hoarse voice, explaining he wore it down in recent days trying to build a winner.
Hickey then introduced a succession of big acquisitions in the first 24 hours of free agency — 316-pound left tackle Branden Albert, 300-pound defensive tackle Earl Mitchell and 305-pound defensive tackle Randy Starks. All signed Wednesday.
Starks remained with the Dolphins after a brief stint as a free agent, signing a $12 million, two-year contract. He spent the past six seasons with the Dolphins, with only one playoff game during that time.
"The moves we made so far just show we're close to doing something special here, and trying to bring in some people to help us get over the hump," he said.
The return of Starks, a two-time Pro Bowl player, and the addition of Mitchell compensate for the loss of defensive tackle Paul Soliai, who joined the Atlanta Falcons after seven years with Miami.
"Paul's a good player," Starks said. "He has been here a long time. He'll be well missed, but we have people who can step up."
Hickey's shopping will continue, with additional offensive linemen, a tight end and a linebacker the most pressing needs. The Dolphins are trying to end a 13-year drought without a postseason victory, and they're eager to put in the past their bullying scandal that involved tackle Jonathan Martin.
The acquisition of Albert was a step in that direction. He'll take over the position manned at the start of last season by Martin, who was traded late Tuesday to the San Francisco 49ers for an undisclosed draft choice.
"I'm going to be here to play left tackle and make a difference," Albert said. "That's the reason I'm here. I feel like it's a team I can help the most and make my legacy even better."
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