What Is Next for Branden Albert and the Kansas City Chiefs?

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What Is Next for Branden Albert and the Kansas City Chiefs?
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The foremost question surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs entering last week’s NFL draft is still the team’s primary focus as the offseason begins to take shape in advance of the 2013 regular season.

The worst-kept secret in the league was Kansas City’s intention to swap Branden Albert—its starting left tackle since 2008—for a second-round pick in this year’s draft. When nothing panned out, both sides went back to square one.

The Chiefs currently owe Albert the value of the franchise tag for left tackles (roughly $9.8 million), and Albert is stuck in a situation that screams of a lack of commitment.

The options remain the same as prior to the draft: A long-term deal can still be negotiated through roughly mid-July, Albert can play under the franchise tag in 2013 and the two sides do the same do-si-do next offseason, or Kansas City can still dangle Albert as trade bait.

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports is predicting that Albert will still be moved this offseason, but for a 2014 second-round pick instead.

The Chiefs are figuring that they eventually will get some interest from teams that didn't fill their left tackle needs in the draft (Detroit, San Diego and Arizona are still in that mix). Look for Albert to eventually move for a second-round pick in 2014.

The Miami Dolphins were the team the Chiefs engaged in the most serious talks with during the draft about an Albert trade, but they decided against pulling the trigger. Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland believes that a deal could still get done (via Pro Football Talk).

According to the Kansas City Star, however, Andy Reid and the Chiefs would welcome Albert back if he opted to return.

While it seemed a lock that Albert would no longer be calling Arrowhead Stadium home just under a week ago, it appears that option is on the table at least for now—which would give the Chiefs one of the league's best tackle combinations, with Albert assuming the left side and No. 1 overall pick, Eric Fisher, manning the right side.

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There is no doubt that the Chiefs are a much better team with Albert in the fold in 2013. The bigger question, however, is whether or not Kansas City is risking letting him walk in the offseason and getting nothing in return other than possibly a compensatory pick in next year's draft.

Albert skipped voluntary workouts earlier this month, citing a desire for more certainty with his situation. He has also been vocal about his unwillingness to move from his left tackle position (via ESPN.com).

Both Albert and the Chiefs are at a standstill, but it appears the team has the upper hand.

Will Branden Albert be a Chief in 2013?

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Kansas City knows that if Albert is to hit next year's free-agent market with any sort of momentum, he will need to have a productive 2013 campaign coming off a back injury that cost him four games last season.

Albert also signed his franchise tender already, dissolving any leverage he had for negotiating a long-term contract with the Chiefs—though discussions would obviously be in play with a potential new suitor on the trade market.

The Chiefs have time, but eventually they need to make a decision on whether having Albert around for another year is more beneficial than cutting ties with him prior to the start of the season.

Kansas City will need to weigh Albert's commitment for just one season, along with wondering if he could become a malcontent after not receiving a long-term deal. Though he has steered clear of workouts thus far, Albert said he will be around when mandatory practices begin (via ESPN.com).

As certain as it was that Albert would have already been dealt, it is now just as vague as to where he plays his football next season. It does appear that if Albert suits up for the Chiefs in 2013, it will be his last with the team.

 

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