Albert Is Not Worth Overpaying For

We are smack in the middle of the offseason dead zone and I know we’re all going to be writing a lot of sentences like: “the complex LT Branden Albert situation” or “the team’s dealings with Albert have yet to play out” etc., etc.

Sam Mellinger summed it up pretty well:

This is an inherently combustible situation — a good player who wants to be paid like a great one, working on a one-year contract on the other side of the line from a younger and better player who was just the first overall draft pick. If Albert was uneasy before, now he will be playing with his obvious replacement. If nothing changes, a season like this will be one filled with land mines.

I’m going to make this much easier.

Albert, take $6 million a year or we’re letting you walk.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, I think Albert is a good player and I’m also not as offended as most fans by his “attitude” – i.e. negotiating hard by sitting out of one voluntary camp. I also think that we may have the best set of bookend tackles in the league this year.

Even so, unless the Chiefs have far and away the world’s best offensive line in 2013 and it’s clear that it will be seriously harmed if Albert is not a part of it in 2014, it is simply not worth it to overpay for him.

Let’s be clear about what Albert is for us long-term – a right tackle. It’s a luxury that we have both Albert, an experienced above average left tackle, and 1st-round pick Eric Fisher, a versatile, team-first guy that is willing to play right tackle this year. But, beyond this season, we really need to put guys in the positions where they can fully realize their potential. Fisher is a left tackle; that’s what he excelled at in college, that’s what we drafted him to be.

So far, Albert has shown no particular interest in being a right tackle, and I imagine that if push came to shove he would prefer to make left tackle money somewhere else than play for the Chiefs. Left tackles get paid significantly more in this league and that’s the position he wants to play. I don’t blame him for wanting out after this season.

Another variable in all of this is that we’re not entirely sure Albert would play right tackle well once Fisher takes over on the left side. Still, if we want to keep him, we have to offer him a right tackle contract – a generous one, granted – and call it good.

In the thick of the haggling between the Chiefs and the Dolphins over possibly trading Albert came a report that Miami was willing to offer Albert the contract he wanted as a part of the deal – a six-year, $53.4 million extension similar to what Texans LT Duane Brown got. That averages to $8.9 million a year, just a bit less than the franchise tag number and would make him the fourth-highest paid player on the team after OLB Tamba Hali, WR Dwayne Bowe and DE Tyson Jackson (if he comes back with that salary in 2014, a questionable prospect).

Simply put, a smart organization doesn’t lock up that kind of money in an RT. With that kind of contract, the Chiefs would be paying out $13 million to $14 million a year on our three tackles. To put that number in perspective, the Chiefs spent $5,873,835 on the contacts of all six of the team’s interior offensive linemen. Only six teams spent more than $12 million on their tackles last year – Carolina, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Miami, Washington and Tennessee. Obviously this wasn’t the only factor, but you will notice that only two of those teams had a winning record last year. The two teams in the Super Bowl each had less than $7 million locked up in the tackle position.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

So, if Albert wants to stay and be the one of the best-paid right tackles in football, great. He made $4,192,500 last year, so $6 million is a 43% percent pay increase. Not too bad. But, the Chiefs should not offer a dollar more. This saves us more than$3 million this year and we can use that to bring in another good player or two at a different position. Our new #2 WR Donnie Avery is averaging less than $3 million a year. So is NT Dontari Poe, WR Dexter McCluster and OLB Justin Houston

If Albert thinks he can get more on the open market, the Chiefs should allow him to give it a shot. If he does get more, then that contract offer will guarantee that the Chiefs will get at least a 4th-round, but probably a 3rd-round compensatory pick for him, which is essentially all the team would have gotten for him in the trade to Miami.

Either way, everyone wins.

Topics: Branden Albert, Salaries, Salary Cap

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    I’ve never been a proponent of overpaying a player. Albert can fly a kite if he isn’t willing to take a fair market deal to stay in Kansas City. Fisher can slide over to left tackle next season and we’ll get a compensatory 3rd for our trouble.

    • byebyealbert1moreyear

      and Stephenson, who reid seems to love, can hold down RT

  • P Heitman

    I agree. Having the bookends we will (presumably) have this year is a luxury, not an absolute necessity.

    • shayaan

      the 49ers have arguably the best line in the league, and invested heavily in their bookends, including a #11 pick on their RT anthony davis. to be the best, it is a necessity, and we shouldn’t shoot for anything less.

      • NicholasAlanClayton

        But, both of their bookends are still playing on their rookie contracts. I don’t know what their plan is for when those contracts are up, but right now they’re paying both of them about $3 million a year. Albert wants three times that and isn’t as good.

        • P Heitman

          Isn’t as good as who?

          • Lenny Lieurance

            What Heitman said. You only give up one sack protecting Cassel and Quinn, your as good as any tackle in the league.

          • KCMikeG

            How much more can the guy do to get some respect? He was a LG moved to one of the toughest positions to play especially with the below average QB’s we have had and all he has done is get better every year helped Charles have great years while never complaining about all the crap about moving him to RT or back to guard. Give the man some respect this year.

          • NicholasAlanClayton

            I respect him. I want him to get slightly above market rate and play him where we need him.

          • NicholasAlanClayton

            Their LT Joe Staley is PFF’s top overall rated tackle.

            https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/05/03/pffs-top-101-of-2012-20-to-11/

          • P Heitman

            Ha well they were smart and didn’t let this situation occur. Both Staley or Davis had their rookie contracts extended at reasonable rates. Staley in 2009 and Davis just this past April. So I really don’t know if comparing the 9ers tackle situation with KC’s is apples to apples, is it? They locked their guys up early which we should have done long ago to avoid this situation entirely. Tell me where PFF ranks Staley in 2017 when it even matters.

          • P Heitman

            PS, that list is bogus. Can’t find a spot for JC in their top 100? C’mon now.

  • byebyealbert1moreyear

    If I was KC, I would use albert for the year, then just let him walk. you were only getting offers of a 3rd anyway. you also have Stephenson who reid has mentioned a good 10 times in the past few weeks. So let albert play the season at LT, fisher at RT, then next year, KC signs less FA’s obviously due to the big class this year, and we get a comp the following year(3rd) for albert, and then LT fisher RT Stephenson
    just my opinion. I think KC should save their money to sign guys like Justin Houston when his deal is up. Id rather keep Houston and start Stephenson, or keep asamoah and start Stephenson, than overpay albert

  • Jim Harper

    Normally I agree with you and your take on the team. Not this time though. $6 mil is not going to fly, but neither is $9 mil. I think the offer should be somewhere in the $7 to $7.5 mil. That may not fly with Albert’s camp either, but is a much more reasonable offer. If we lose him they would likely get a 3rd round compensatory pick, but not until 2015. That is what the Chiefs would not do with Miami. They wanted a 2nd rounder. The good news is if Albert does want to leave then he will have to play his ass off and stay healthy if he wants another team to step up and pay him. Then the worst case scenario is we draft a RT next year and move Fisher back over to the left side. Then we will have two young tackles for years to come.

    • KCMikeG

      True Jim. He will want to work his butt off to get closer to the pay day he wants. It is foolish to think he would be a problem. He is playing where he wants, he is making $9.8M and if he has a great year then he will get an even bigger pay day. I think we will sign him yet. Even your worst scenario isn’t bad. I heard the Fins wouldn’t even give us a 3rd round pick which ended the negotiations. No way do you let a 1st round pick that has improved every year for a 4th or later round pick. Keep on making great decisions R&D!

  • KCMikeG

    “This is an inherently combustible situation” Really? Mellinger is just trying to stoke the fires of a controversy that doesn’t exist. This is an inherently desperate attempt to create a controversy. In case you, like Sam, missed the memo Albert is NOT a RT. He is our LT and Fisher is our RT per Coach Reid. I know things are slow this time of year but there is NO controversy in KC.

    Fisher is ALREADY a better LT than Albert even though he hasn’t played a single down in the NFL. Really? Big assumption on your part. Before the Senior Bowl, Eric Fisher was considered the draft’s second-best offensive tackle by default. The other top options had opted to return to school, and Fisher was simply the next-best option. He has not played against NFL caliber pass rushers like Albert has – only yielding ONE sack last year.

    You said “Let’s be clear about what Albert is for us long-term – a right tackle.” Based on what? The fact that he has NEVER played the position? You even state that we don’t know if he would play it well. Yet you suggest let’s pay him a generous RT $6M salary and put him in a position he has never played just because you are assuming Fisher is better? Bad idea.

    As far as Albert true market value. Albert ALREADY tested the market and found the Fins willing to pay him over $9M while they let Jake Long go when they could have had him for the $8.5M (or less) the Rams are paying him. Don’t be ridiculous – Albert is worth more than $6M. Jason Peters is making $12 AVG/PY with $6.1M Guaranteed. Followed by 16 other LT’s making more than $6M AVG/PY including Jared Gaither & Levi Brown. Certainly you believe Albert is worth more than those two.

    I say we pay Albert in the $8M range which would save us nearly $2M this year. This would solidify our OL for years and it will be one of the best in the NFL for years to come. Fisher will get $5M for each of the next 4 years which is reasonable for the position. The importance of the LT vs the Rt is diminishing with the evolution of the spread/pistol type of offensive attacks and is also being effected by the changes defenses are making in the way they attack through their blitzes. We are seeing the outside pass rushing stars moving around on both sides of the line and there are more inside blitzes being run. Look at where our #1 sack leader came from last year – the beating RT. Here is an article that goes into more detail.

    http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/24/n-f-l-evolution-the-eminence-of-the-left-tackle-and-other-myths/

    • P Heitman

      Solid counterpoints. Fantastic post.

      • KCMikeG

        Thanks!

        • NicholasAlanClayton

          Also the article you cite that talks about the diminishing importance of the left tackle position is really making the point that teams overvalue BOTH tackles, which more or less conforms to my point.

          • KCMikeG

            Yes and it supports the growing need for better (higher paid) interior OL. As we have seen since the faider game in 2010 and the playoff game vs the Ravens and many times last year our opponents attacked us with crushing blitzes up the middle.
            IMO the focus on a “Super Star” player who will “carry the team on his back” is diminishing. The RB position has become a platoon approach on most every team except the Vikes (AP All Day). Teams are using multiple TE sets. The pass heavy attacks are driving the increased use of nickel & dime packages increasing the need for 6 starting caliber DB’s. The only constant is change.

          • NicholasAlanClayton

            I don’t disagree. That’s why I’m not a fan of giving Albert like 8% of the total salary cap every year.

    • Chief Hokie

      Agreed. 8 mil is reasonable for Albert and the Chiefs and is worth the investment.

    • ArrowFan

      I agree and we should only guarantee the first three years or so. If Fisher becomes who we think he can Albert can be cut if need be to clear up cap room. If Fisher busts then we still have Albert. After all Fisher isn’t going to hurt the cap that much for the next five years anyway.

      • KCMikeG

        I really like the three year idea.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Decent counter argument, but, setting aside whether it makes sense to use a 1st overall pick on a long-term RT, the fact is that that Chiefs currently have about $3 million in cap room and the $7 million or so in 2013 rookie contracts that didn’t count against the cap this year will put us over the cap next year. Plus, a bunch of players will be free agents in 2014: WR Dexter McCluster, TE Tony Moeaki, S Kendrick Lewis, G Jon Asamoah, G Geoff Schwartz just to name a few. Those are all starters at the moment. McCluster’s rookie contract is ending that averaged him $1.3 million a year. He’s going to want more than that. Now is also the smart time to sign an extension for OLB Justin Houston, who is currently making about $700k. His value is only going to increase as he develops. With a league this competitive, you just cannot overpay a player and maintain your edge.

      • chiefridgy

        Unless Mccluster shows up this year he can walk next year

        • KCMikeG

          Agreed. If it is going to happen then Reid is the right guy and this will be the right system for him. I think he will explode – if not then on to the next option.

      • KCMikeG

        #2 pick Luke Joeckel is playing RT for the Jags and #4 pick Lane Johnson is playing with the 2nd team. I’ll take a beast man starting RT all day long. I checked Sportrac who has us at 4.275M under the cap and I am confident that Dorsey has a plan to make it happen. I am in total agreement on extending Houston sooner rather than later. Funny even having the conversation about being close to the cap after all the complaining about how cheap we were last year. The $14M in carry over turns out to be critical this year.

    • Darkwolf1414

      I guess I don’t need to post, as you said everything I was going to! Great post!

      • KCMikeG

        Sorry and thanks! So do you think Albert will get a contract or will he be our franchise player this year and be gone next?

    • Lenny Lieurance

      Took the words right out of my mouth sir, well said.

  • redchiefs

    Why stir up this stink pile again. A big ole cow chip pretty much stops stinking until you pick it up, or step in it.
    Coach spoke with BA. Coach is happy. BA is happy and is home. BA is at voluntary workouts, sitting in classrooms, and working out. If PFF can grade players on a set scale, you can sure bet all the 32 NFL teams do the same. BA has improved every year he’s been here, who’s to say that won’t continue.
    John Dorsey gets his guys for fair value, I can’t imagine BA wont end up getting fair value. I’d start with 6.5mil, and add performance clauses up to the 8.5m BA wants. But that’s just me, I’m not the Head Coach, the GM or CEO of the Hunt Family ownership group. I’ve seen John Dorsey bring in talent, at fair value so far and I believe it will continue.
    BUT, let’s review, Andy Reid and BA talked. Coach is happy, BA is happy, Eric Fisher is happy, heck, right now the whole team is happy. GO CHIEFS!

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Slow news time of the year.

    • KCMikeG

      Exactly. Nothing to see folks. Move along.

  • Bigtexjayhawk

    The Chiefs are in a fabulous position in this Albert fiasco. One, Albert HAS to play well this year in order to cash in his winning lottery ticket. Two, KC does not have to overpay for him. If Reid can get Stephenson ready to play the year after plus we pick up a comp pick it will be arreviderci Albert. Hope Albert comes to his senses and realizes KC is the reason he is a LT in the NFL after plying G in college. Would like to resign and lower cap for a vet ILB Dansby, another WR or grab Woodson to play S alongside Berry.

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