With the NFL offseason gearing up for the draft later this month, the biggest decision for most teams will be who they take in the first round. While the Kansas City Chiefs sit with the No. 1 overall pick, there is still an in-house item that needs to be addressed: the future of left tackle Branden Albert.
Albert, drafted No. 15 overall, was one of the team’s two first-round picks back in 2008. Five years and 71 starts later, and Kansas City appears to be in flux about his status as a Chief moving forward—which coincidentally holds plenty of weight with their decision at the top of this year’s draft.
After not agreeing on a long-term contract, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Albert—which is worth roughly $9.83 million next season. He quickly signed the tender, raising speculation as to whether or not a trade was imminent.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported that the Chiefs will indeed entertain offers for Albert.
ESPN's Adam Schefter outlines what exactly Kansas City is seeking in return.
To further cloud the Chiefs' plans to protect new quarterback Alex Smith, they released right tackle Eric Winston after signing him to a five-year deal last offseason.
Instead of entering the 2013 season with two dependable bookends, Kansas City could find itself replacing both spots. A throng of top-end tackle prospects, however, would help to alleviate this gamble should the Chiefs choose to go that route.
While this roster still has a handful of needs, it is apparent that the Chiefs will either be replacing Albert or grooming his replacement at right tackle next season. It is this uncertainty that has the five-year veteran wavering on his immediate commitment to the team.
In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Albert admitted that he is selfish but says "you've got to be somewhat selfish in this situation."
"I'm not disgruntled at all. I just want a commitment. I want to know where I'm going, when I'm going and I want some security," Albert said.
With this more than likely being Albert's final chance to cash in on a long-term deal, it is not a surprise how guardedly he is now handling these circumstances—and though his tweets have since been removed, he also made it very clear that left tackle is his preferred position (via Pro Football Talk).
New head coach Andy Reid said Albert was the only player not present at the team's voluntary workouts last Monday.
Albert said on NFL AM that he will stay away until there is more certainty surrounding his situation with the Chiefs (via Pro Football Talk).
Though obviously very frustrating for Albert, the Chiefs plan to be very patient here.
If Kansas City is able to trade Albert, the team will likely receive plenty of compensation to find a suitable replacement—or at least a complement to who they decide to draft with the top pick. And if the Chiefs keep Albert around, he provides stability at a key position to help usher in a new era for the franchise.
The direction things seem to be going, however, is that Albert will not be in Kansas City past the 2013 season regardless of how this situation unfolds in the short term. Either the Chiefs get what they want out of a trade now or they use his services to buy time for what is to come next offseason.
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