The Lede: Branden Albert Retires

"Without Albert protecting his blindside, will Bortles be kept upright this season?" Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]

Don’t have time to read through 1,000 words, but need some informed betting tips? Here’s a quick rundown on today’s biggest sports story (as adjudged by me) and how it impacts the way you should bet.

Jaguars LT Branden Albert Retires

After being traded to the Jaguars in the offseason for tight end Julius Thomas, two-time Pro Bowl tackle Branden Albert has retired without ever logging a game for his new team. Albert was seeking a new contract and had skipped all voluntary workouts this offseason as a result. The 32-year-old then ended his holdout and reported to training camp, only to announce his retirement a few days in.

Albert’s decision to hang them up is a big loss for the Jags, who believed they had finally filled their void at left tackle. There’s no hiding Albert’s struggles in his final year in Miami, but he was also marred by injuries. When healthy, he was one of the best left tackles in the league, and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2015.

The loss will likely result in Jacksonville turning to rookie second-round pick Cam Robinson at left tackle. The Jags would have been better served by kicking Robinson to left guard as a rookie, allowing them to move Earl Watford to the bench. Last year, Watford was the worst-rated guard per Pro Football Focus (among those with enough snaps to qualify).

Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone wanted to bring a power running game to Jacksonville and drafted Leonard Fournette fourth-overall to be their bell cow. But without a serviceable offensive line in front of him, Fournette is going to have difficulties finding holes. With Albert’s retirement, the rookie back should not be the 11th RB coming off the board in fantasy drafts. View him as a middling RB2 now.

Considering the only other “big news” out of Jags camp is that Blake Bortles threw five interceptions in one practice, concern has to be mounting in Jacksonville. As last year proved, possessing a stout defense isn’t good enough if Bortles is putting the ball in the air nearly 40 times per game. Coughlin and Marrone have seen the Bortles movie from afar plenty of times and will be stubborn when it comes to running the ball, so it probably won’t be more pick-sixes that sink the team this year. But Jacksonville’s stout defense won’t be enough to win the team games, and the Jags won’t be in contention until they can give their offensive line a major makeover.