Oct. 09, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney (93) tries to get around Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert (76) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

The Answer Is Albert

When last we spoke, Chiefs brass were headed for Indianapolis to attend the 2013 NFL Combine. It was precisely there, in Lucas Oil Stadium, where I believed the team could find answers about their future at quarterback. Seven days later, Kansas City is covered in snow and shrouded in speculation about Alex Smith. There have been rampant rumors that the Chiefs may already have a trade deal in place with San Francisco. It’s often said that where there is smoke there is fire, but the reports are far too conflicting to provide any real answers for the inquiring minds of Chiefs Kingdom.

It’s hard to make sense of all of the information available, but I’m not sure we have to. I think there’s one primary factor that will ultimately decide the course the Chiefs will take at quarterback. That factor is Kansas City’s left offensive tackle Branden Albert. It’s his fate with (or without) the organization that will determine who calls the signals at One Arrowhead Drive next season.

According to a report by USA Today, Albert did his part by passing a team physical a few weeks ago. It’s now up to John Dorsey and Andy Reid to decide if Albert is healthy enough to warrant a new contract. I suspect that successfully re-signing Branden Albert would require a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $54 million (think Duane Brown). That’s a big commitment for the front office to make and if there’s any concern about Albert’s back holding up, the Chiefs won’t pull that trigger.

Several national reports suggest that the Chiefs are quite fond of Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel. Draft experts believe he’s the best option for the Chiefs’ #1 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. It may seem to be counter-intuitive to let a proven player walk for one who hasn’t played an NFL down, but he’s widely considered to be one of the best prospects at any position in this draft class. He’s certainly a safer alternative for the franchise if there are doubts about Albert’s durability.

If the Chiefs are unable to reach an agreement with Albert, they still have until March 4th to retain him by applying the franchise tag. That’s the last day a team can designate either the franchise or transition tags to retain a player. Using the tag would guarantee Branden Albert roughly $9.6 million for 2013 and give the team additional time to get him locked up to a long-term contract. Bear in mind, the tag could also be applied to retain the services of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. That seems like a less likely scenario, since Bowe was tagged in 2012. The rule requires NFL teams to pay either the 2013 number ($10.3 million for wide receivers) or 120% of the previous year’s salary. Dwayne Bowe made $9.5 million in 2012 and would be due approximately $11 million next season.

I expect Albert to be tagged if the Chiefs sign Dwayne Bowe to a new contract prior to March 4th. If the two remain untagged when the designation period ends, Albert will mostly likely hit the open market. There’s some thought that the presence of Ryan Clady, Jake Long, and three NFL-ready left tackles in the draft (Luke Joeckel, Lane Johnson, and Eric Fisher) will keep the market for left tackles modest. The Chiefs will have a chance to make a fair market offer to keep Albert, but he’ll be unrestricted and free to sign with another team. If Albert defects for another NFL city, it all but guarantees that they’ll take Luke Joeckel with their top draft choice.

If the Chiefs tag or re-sign Branden Albert, Joeckel won’t be an option for the Chiefs’ #1 pick. The announcement of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei’s heart condition is expected to lower his draft stock, effectively removing him from the conversation as well. By the process of elimination, Geno Smith would quickly become the favorite to land the top spot in Kansas City’s 2013 draft class. It’s been rumored that the Chiefs are shopping the #1 pick, but a trade-down scenario seems improbable given the top talent available this year. There isn’t much of consensus about who the top five players in this draft are.

So there you have it, Addicts. Branden Albert is either the gift or the curse. The next six days are crucial to the future of the quarterback position in Kansas City. If you’re on the Geno Smith bandwagon (you should be), root for Albert to be re-signed or tagged. If you prefer another San Francisco backup or one of the alternatives in a weak quarterback class, root for the front office to let him walk. Just remember that Oakland also needs help at the quarterback position. Do you really want to see Geno Smith lighting us up for the next decade in the silver and blech? I didn’t think so.

Until next time, Addicts!

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  • Ben

    I think the chiefs need to let Albert go. I think he is amazing but I feel like we can fill his spot in the FA. I dont want them to draft a LT first either. I dont know anymore… IM SO CONFUSED JUST GIVE US ANSWERS!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      The only good reason to let Albert walk is a serious concern about his durability. If the Chiefs don’t think he can stay healthy, I’ll understand it when they take Joeckel. I’ll also have no issue with Alex Smith (and EJ Manuel) as their answers to the quarterback problem. If they believe Albert to be healthy, pay him and draft Geno Smith.

    • Michael Shaw

      Answers are something this team never gives. They like “surprising” us!!

  • Priest4Prez

    For the love of all the Chiefs nation keep Albert; the man has put in so much work and beat himself up for QB’s who couldn’t tell a wide reciever from a cornerback…pay the man!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      It’s a thankless job protecting the turds we’ve had at quarterback. Add in countless fan references to him being moved to Guard and he definitely deserves that contract.

  • KCMikeG

    What is with the foolish comment by Dorsey that we could sign Albert and still draft Joeckel? If it is a smoke screen then it is about as lame as they come. We can’t tag or sign Albert paying him top 5 LT money and then move him anywhere else on the line as some have suggested. We already have Winston under contract for 3 more years.

    If this entire draft class is so weak then why is the #1 LT a wise pick, especially when you already have one, but a QB is a terrible pick? All I have heard is how deep the LT position is in the draft this year. So doesn’t that mean spending our #1 on one would be foolish if we can get similar talent with our #2 or #3? Look at Eric Fisher – he wasn’t even on the mock drafts – not even as an UDRFA! Now he is a top 10 pick?

    IF there is any concern with Albert’s durability then we should tag him and see while we continue to develop Stephenson. You can’t tell me there won’t be other LT’s available next year in the draft or FA.

    We need to draft the best player who can help us the most with our #1. That means QB followed by CB, then SS, TE and SILB. The BPA approach may have been the philosophy Dorsey learned in GB but they were an established playoff team. We are struggling with major holes that need filled – BPA is a luxury we can’t afford.

    • Michael Shaw

      While the depth at the OL position in this draft is very deep, if you cannot come to terms with your current LT, then drafting THE BEST one in this class is the smartest thing to do. I personally want Albert, Bowe and Colquitt signed and when that happens I am hoping they draft Milliner. The best way to beat Peyton, Phillip and Carson/Trevor or god forbid Geno is to get someone opposite of Flowers to shut down their receiving options!!! Just sayin!

      • KCMikeG

        IF we don’t keep Albert – although I don’t know why we wouldn’t as he is being very vocal about wanting to stay and that it’s not all about the money – I would agree LT would be worthy of our #1 pick.
        I really want Geno but if we are going to pass on him and sign/tag Albert then I am right there with you on Milliner as CB is our next biggest need. As the passing game continues to dominate the offense systems nothing is more important than CB.
        Also, depending on what happens with Jackson/Dorsey/Canty could change my top pick. If we end up w/o any of them then I would want Sharrif Floyd.

  • Richard Comstock

    What about this Idea.
    Sign Bowe, Franchise Albert(only to see if his back can hold up)
    Draft Dee Milliner who just ran a 4.37 in his 40(only knock was speed)
    Trade a 3rd for smith
    Draft Tyler Bray in the 2nd…If you watched the combine you know what im talking about.
    Trade back into either the late first or early second and snatch an elite MLB. (Ogeltree preferably)
    However if we did draft Geno I would be so happy becuase up untill today that has been my dream. That would allow us to get solid LB or DE at pick to like Margus Hunt (beast think watt 2.0)

    • Stacy D. Smith

      If we stand pat and make our top three picks, we’d have to trade a future pick to obtain another #2.

    • Troy Utt

      Have always been an Albert fan, but having been in the league 5 years with only one 16 game season worries me. Having been out the number of games he was end of last season, & knowing that Stephensen by account is in need of at least a year in the weight room to work on his upper body strength leaves me now thinking that dropping the “tag” is in our best interest! Milliner’s combine did him no favors…his ’40 may have been the best aspect, as while going thru drills he could not catch a ball in coverage simulation drills to save his life! I’m sure nerves has some to do with it… but you have to wonder about his shoulder? I am with you on Bray should they decide to bring in Alex Smith! I was impressed with his showing, and his raw skills! I think Coach could work with him…

  • Danny W

    Hey Hey Hey, Brandon Albert! I want Geno but I’ve convinced myself it’s not going to happen to save the heart ache.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Danny I think I’ve crossed too. I had been convinced he’d be the pick, but now I’m not feeling so good about that.

      • Danny W

        I think they’ve all but shown their hand. Talking about how they could keep both Albert and Joeckel, but no QB’s are worth it that high! The only reason they haven’t drafted the kid yet is that their hoping to get more picks through trade backs.

  • Jim Harper

    Nobody gives answers this time of year. They are all supplying misinformation to keep their intentions quiet. Even last year when everyone in the world that the Colts were going to take Luck, they did not commit to it until about a week before the draft. I know it is fun to speculate and play GM, but in the real world nobody has a clue what will happen and that is exactly the way the Chiefs want it.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Which is exactly what should happen. No reason to tip their hand. We’ll get a pretty good idea of how this will all play out over the next two weeks though.

  • ArrowFan

    The rummer I hurd tonight is that wecould trade with tthe eagles for Revis. I would bedown with that

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I will slit my wrists if that happens.

  • Scott Mahurin

    Seems pretty simple to me. BA stays. Stephenson gets more work and is heir apparent at LT. Draft a guard/center in the fourth/fifth for depth. If you hate Geno…Take BPA at DE/Corner. Then we can run the wildcat offense and have first pick again next year. I still can’t wrap my head around why they wouldn’t take Geno…but, I’m not the GM and I don’t have the pro scouts working for me.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      You’re pro-tag for Albert then?

  • family man

    sign Albert draft milliner