As the NFL offseason distances itself from the draft and grinds toward the 2013 regular season, it is becoming more likely that Branden Albert remains with the Kansas City Chiefs for at least one more year.
While it may not be ideal considering Kansas City used the No. 1 overall pick on Eric Fisher—projected to be the team's left tackle of the future—the Chiefs are certainly a much better team with Albert in the fold. And if keeping Albert on the left side for now maximizes his internal value to the organization, creating unnecessary controversy would detract from a very productive offseason.
With much of the roster in place and the impact that this particular situation would entail, providing a sense of direction now thwarts many of the questions that will be thrown at the Chiefs at training camp and, ultimately, the regular season.
I’m gonna play the five best guys. You saw me do that with Shawn Andrews in Philadelphia. Shawn Andrews was as good an offensive lineman as I’ve ever seen at the college level and then he came to the pros and he was the same thing. He was one of the best I’ve ever coached, now, as far as being athletic and being a football player. Well, we had two veteran tackles who were two pretty stinking good players and so we put Shawn at guard and he ended up being a Pro Bowler there.
It is well documented that the Chiefs’ full intent was to trade Albert for a second-round pick in this year's draft.
When they failed—having hitched their entire wagon to talks with the Miami Dolphins—that possibility shrunk; though Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole predicts that he will still be moved for a 2014 second-round pick instead—citing the Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals as possible destinations.
We allowed Albert’s people to talk and look and do that whole thing and it didn’t work out one way or the other. And so, you never know, I mean, in this business you’d love to say that he’d be here or not be here, one of the two, but I know he’s a good kid, I know he’s a hard worker and I know he’s a good left tackle. So that gives us a whole lot of flexibility and if he was here today he would be the left tackle. And then we go from there and we just see what happens down the road.
Albert has been upfront all offseason about just wanting stability with this situation. It is also well-known of his unwillingness to play any position other than left tackle at the moment—which could have been the deciding factor for the Chiefs when opting for Fisher over Luke Joeckel with the top pick.
Fisher told Danny Parkins—local Kansas City sports radio talk host—that he would have no problem playing right tackle as a rookie.
I played left tackle in college and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to play it again, but I know there’s some great tackles in the league right now, and as a rookie if I had to come in and play right tackle I’d have no problem with that.
Though unlikely—seeming that the Fisher pick would be scrutinized and with what has transpired between the two sides this offseason—a long-term deal between Kansas City and Albert is still apparently on the table (via NFL.com).
Albert has no leverage, however, having signed his franchise tag early in the process to help facilitate trade talks.
He has yet to show up for volunteer workouts with the team, but his attendance is required once mandatory sessions begin; not doing so would jeopardize his free-agent sway next offseason.
Status quo for the Chiefs is not such a bad thing here, however. They get a still-hungry Albert in an extension of his contract year and have Fisher, who enters the NFL with a seemingly do-anything-for-the-team attitude.
With training camp on the horizon, the Chiefs need to now put their collective heads down and work toward improving on their 2-14 mark from a year ago. It is Reid’s responsibility to work with the players currently on the roster, and it is general manager John Dorsey’s job to continue exploring any trade possibilities that may still be out there for Albert—or that long shot of a contract extension.
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