The Kansas City Chiefs have two crucial decisions on their hands in advance of next week’s NFL draft: ultimately settling on who to take with the No. 1 overall pick and what to do with left tackle Branden Albert.
The Chiefs seem to be backing off of their initial asking price for the five-year veteran. Peter King of Sports Illustrated has reported that the team is now willing to accept just a second-round pick for Albert.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter outlined what Kansas City sought in return when trade rumors originally surfaced.
It would seem that Albert’s future in Kansas City would play a direct role in how this team approaches its draft strategy. But the Chiefs’ offseason has unfolded as such to indicate that they would lean toward taking one of the top offensive tackle prospects despite Albert’s presence on the team.
Albert is scheduled to play this year under the franchise tag—which would net him roughly $9.83 million—unless he is traded and a long-term deal is worked out with the new team. And after inking Eric Winston to a five-year contract last offseason, the Chiefs released the right tackle last month just prior to the start of free agency.
King pointed out, “…and regardless whether Albert's moved or not, I don't see them doing anything but taking tackles Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher first.”
Joeckel, Fisher and Lane Johnson are all considered top left tackle prospects in this year’s draft.
The Chiefs have the upper hand here. Either this team is able to get what it wants out of a trade now or Albert suits up and plays another year in Kansas City—with even more to prove in essentially his second crack at a contract year.
The key for the Chiefs is to do what they deem best to set up the franchise for the long term. Neglecting an immediate solution now—even if Albert plays in Kansas City in 2013—will only prevent this team from moving forward and will only intensify this same issue next offseason.
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