Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Trading Albert Makes The Chiefs Richer, Younger, More Flexible

I spent the first couple of months of the offseason screaming for LT Branden Albert to be re-signed and bashing the idea of using the team’s first overall pick to replace him. But, now that free agency has run its course for this team, I can see how trading a now-franchise-tagged Albert increases the team’s purse, longevity and flexibility going into the Draft.

Here’s how:

It saves money.

While the new rookie wage scale makes it cheaper and easier to sign top picks, the salaries are also determined by a formula so complicated that I won’t bore you with here. But, basically the contract for the 1st overall pick this year will be something like 4-years for $21 million in guaranteed money or an average of a bit over $5 million a year. If the Chiefs want to keep the player (Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher in this scenario), then they can invoke what is essentially the “rookie tag” which works like a franchise tag except that it is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position rather than the top 5.

Albert’s franchise tag salary this year will make him $9.828 million in guaranteed money – that’s nearly 10 percent of the Chiefs total player payroll. It’s also reported that he wants something in that neighborhood as a yearly salary as a part of a long-term deal.

In other words, Joeckel will cost roughly half of what Albert will next season, and we get him for that cheap price for four full years. With Albert, there’s no guarantee that the Chiefs will be able to come to a long-term agreement, and even if they do, it’s going to be pricey.

In the end, it all depends on how Dorsey and Reid feel about Joeckel and Fisher. If they think that either of those two prospects have brighter futures than Albert – and they may even think that one or both of them are better than Albert right now – then why pay Albert double what you can get these guys for?

It makes the team younger.

I know that saying this may give fans PTSD flashbacks to the Herm Edwards “youth movement” experiment, but a lot of talent that is still driving this team came out of that 2008 draft class.

The Chiefs have had a great run of free agency, methodically filling nearly every hole on the roster with solid starters. Moves like the trade for QB Alex Smith show that the new regime believes it can win now with this improved squad. But, we can’t turn our back on the future in order to try and win this season. Giving up what could be two 2nd-rounders is a heavy price to pay for our quarterback of today.

Last year, all the free agency chatter was about Mario Williams and Matt Flynn – the most sought after defensive and offensive free agents respectively. Did they lead their teams on a quick run to the promised land? The Bills went 6-10 and the Seahawks ended up starting a 3rd-round pick over their free agency prize.

This is a story we’ve seen time and time again. The team that wins free agency frequently wins very little thereafter. We’ve made some smart additions, now we need to draft smart, and for that we need ammunition.

According to reports, the Chiefs are looking for a 2013 2nd-rounder and a 2014 pick as well. We just signed a truckload of veterans. If we can translate Albert and his $10-million price tag into two young starters, then we can help balance out this team with youthful bodies for the future.

It gives us flexibility in the draft.

Mike Mayock has been saying for a month now that in this draft, you’re just as well off picking 25th as if you are picking 5th. This draft is also deep in areas of overall need for the Chiefs. We can easily pick up rotational D-linemen, a right tackle or a good ILB in the 2nd round. The problem is that we (technically) don’t have a pick there. Although our 3rd round pick would really be a 2nd most years because two picks ahead of it were eliminated, picking up a real 2nd-rounder will give us the ability to move around and target the guys we want. With a second and that high third we could likely even move back into the 1st round if we saw a great talent falling.

In some ways, the 2nd round is a better place to be picking than 1st overall. It will be very difficult to trade out of the top spot and get decent compensation and there are only a few players worthy of that top pick. In the second round, not only will there be good players dropping and available, but the trade market is always much more lively there to both move up and down.


Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Again, all of this depends on what Dorsey and Reid think of Albert and Joeckel. If they don’t think he’s worthy of the money he is demanding, then we are just renting him this year and will see him depart in 2014 for nothing. Right now, we can potentially get good value in a trade and make his contract someone else’s problem. With another $9.8 million to spend, we can pick up another free agent or two now that feeding frenzy is over and there are bargains to be had.

Meanwhile, the team overall gets younger and more stable. “Draft and develop” is what makes good teams into dynasties, and I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see this new staff turn in more than one exciting and short playoff run like the last four before them.

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Tags: 2013 NFL Draft Branden Albert Draft Eric Fisher Luke Joeckel

  • shayaan

    if we trade albert, we must draft an LT prospect, and the only ones who can come in and succeed immediately are at the top of the draft. flexibility my ass.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Well, getting decent value for trading down from #1 is going to be next to impossible this year. There are no big-time stars at the top and sounds like by all estimations that the only prospects this year that are going to be perennial pro-bowlers and stars are the offensive tackles. If we can’t trade down — and we probably won’t be able to — then we have to take the player that’s worth it. Albert is a good starter, but not a perennial pro bowler. By drafting a tackle there, it seems like (by Dorsey’s estimation) that we get a better, cheaper player. By getting Albert’s 2013 salary off our books, we quadruple our current cap space and get more high picks. That’s flexibility. Otherwise we take someone at #1 who is either a RT for a year or is overdrafted and at a position we don’t really need him. Then we wait until the 3rd round to move again.

  • toperspective

    If he wants 9M a year in this new environment…then I hope they can find a patsy to take him. Otherwise he is either franchised again next year or you lose him for nothing.

  • Zachary Barry

    Here is the problem if Albert wants 9 mil….ish per year he had better not miss a game for back issues, start playing like a top 5. 9 mil to a guy who has yet to make an appearance at the Pro Bowl. Albert has been showing improvement but not 9 mil money improvement. He wants a top dollar long term deal…….well then play like you deserve it or suck it up and take what they offer so far the deals we have seen have been very fair.

    • KCMikeG

      All the more reason to get something for him now. If he plays and his back causes he more issues who would want him then – and at what reduced price – or if at all. T’ve come around on this and say let’s move Albert now. I really want Fisher or Johnson over Joeckel. I think Manziel made him look better than he really is. Fisher is an all around beast and Johnson is ascending in his play. With the draft being as deep as it is I woud rather see us get a 2nd & a 3rd or 4th for Albert this year. I just know – kind of like the little voice who keeps saying no about Joeckel – that R&D will get a trade down down adding a similar bounty of a 2nd and a 3rd or 4th. That would give us one of the top LT’s with our traded down #1 pick. Then we would have SEVEN more picks over the next 120 or so picks. We will be big and fast and well coached. Pu met in coach, I’m ready to cheer!

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Only two options here: Trade him or sign him. Franchising him again next year would give him a two year total of $21.5m guaranteed. That’s basically what he would’ve gotten on a long-term deal. You can’t give him a contract type guarantee and not have future rights to him. Whatever they do, it needs to happen before the draft.

    • Donkeyhater

      I think if they trade him they should do it after the first round. Keep all our options open in case we get a good trade down offer. If we can pick up a 2nd by trading back we can keep Albert and take BPA, such as a D-lineman, or maybe Warmack or the WR Patterson. If we can’t get a decent trade offer then they can take Joeckel or Fisher at 1 and trade BA for the 2nd. Trading him beforehand takes away all our leverage though.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I don’t think they need to play cat & mouse anymore. At this point, there are enough teams in the hunt for a new QB that they can handle their business before the draft.

        • Donkeyhater

          Yes, but if we traded down we don’t know which tackles would be available at that pick, so keeping Albert is important in case the top 3 are off the board.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Well, we’ve got him for the season. We can always draft one next year. It’d be no different than having a rookie in that role this year.

  • cyberry

    There is something I wonder about..(kinda conspiracy)..Albert trainers said he could play last year…But I wonder if Pioli/Romeo (thinking think he would be back)..knew the season was over. Told Albert there is no reason for you to risk making your injury worst so he was sidelined when if we were in the play-off hunt he would have played..BUT.Pioli, intentions were to look at Stephenson and Albert missing 4 games would have a negative effect on teams looking for a free agent lineman.. I’m NOT implying that this happened but Pioli does seem to have a little dark side to him…

    • berttheclock

      Machiavellian, perhaps? But, an aside. You responded to a post of mine by mentioning how Schneider of the Seahawks overruled PC about taking Taylor Mays, the safety from USC. JS told PC he thought Earl Thomas was better, so, Thomas was drafted, instead. About a year ago, I read a thread from a Bay blogger who had rated the drafts of Trent Baalke of the Niners. The one true miss, he wrote, was taking Taylor Mays. The blogger said TB had a blind spot for USC players. Mays ended up not playing well for SF and is now with the Bengals. Oh, he, also, mentioned he thought passing on Arenas had been a mistake.

  • Bigtexjayhawk

    What is the chance Reid grabs King Dunlap from Philly. He played on a one year deal for about $1M last year. Swap #1 in trade plus 2nd rounder. Trade BA another 2nd this yr. grab ba OT then grab Arthur Brown, TE/WR then Armstead 3rd round.

    • berttheclock

      King Dunlap signed a two year contract with the Bolts on March 12.

  • Danny W

    Good read NAC.
    I’m in full agreement here’s to hoping it gets done.

  • Jim Harper

    You must be living in my head. This is exactly what I have been saying all along. The only thing that can go wrong is that whoever we trade Albert to, need to be able to sign him long term before the trade can be finalized. That is the tough part. There are a limited number of team not only needing a LT, but also have the cap space to sign him long term. My guess is the Chiefs may have to come off of the extra pick in 2014 to get the deal done, and maybe that is why they threw it out there. Miami is the perfect storm. They have a need, available cap space, and Albert lives down there. Here is hoping they get that done. Albert says he is not a disgruntled player, but he could sure turn into one. As for trading down I think Buffalo is as far as you can go and still be able to get one of the top 3 LT’s. That should give us the 8th overall and a high 2nd round pick and we are off to the races! Go Chiefs!

    • ArrowFan

      I know I would be disgruntled over 9.8 million.

  • Ivan J Colon

    Two options here keep albert or trade him and then trade down in the draft and stockpile picks to fill all remaining needs and depth. Then you have true flexibility in the draft to move for players anywhere you want

  • berttheclock

    Excellent points, but, then, Nicholas, you do post threads from a city whose name means “Warm”. Have you seen the thread by Bill Williamson, yesterday, at ESPN AFC West where he wrote that Ireland, the GM of the Dolphins, may be going into Slo-Mo about trading for Albert? Williamson believes Ireland is trying to stall to the point he will only have to give up a 2nd. Perhaps his over spending on FAs has made him worried about giving away too much.

  • berttheclock

    Also, the Chiefs need more draft picks to pick up another big body for the defensive front. Dorsey went to the Niners and RP has just signed with the Titans.

  • ArrowFan

    One side of me says that trading him is to risky, do we really want a rookie at LT? In all likely hood said rookie will give up more than one sack, no matter how talented or future all pro he is going to possibly be, he will give up more than one sack. The other side says yea trade him free up the money plug the hole with a good player and see what else we can get out of it. But when you think about it, if the plan all along was to tag him and then trade him what a ballsy gamble that is. If it works out and you get a trade, brilliant you get something from virtually nothing, if it doesn’t work out then it costs you 9.8 mill.

  • Adrian Morales

    Cmon man make us younger dont we already have the 3rd or 4th youngest team in the league and albert is better yhan joeckel

  • jimfromkcj

    It is always nice when others come to your way of thinking. I have been saying the same things that you have quoted on this post. Now if I can convince you to take the leap and work out a trade for Hali it would be even nicer. He isn’t getting better and there are rumors about both his feet and his shoulders. And to top it off, I was just listening to Keitsman on 810 radio who was interviewing Holtzman who is the voice of the Chiefs and he was quoteing stats of the Chief’s defence last year and it was brutal. The chiefs had 7 interceptions and the league average is 15, and the super bowl contenders had 40. Thje sack totals for the Chiefs were about half of the league total too. If we go 8 and 8 this year I would consider it a great year. But to look for a play off or super bowl is not at all realistic and will only lead to more disappointment.