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Branden Albert Contract Deadline Is Coming: Why You Shouldn't Worry

Kansas City Chiefs LT Branden Albert is running out of time to ink a long-term deal with the team.

The Chiefs used the franchise tag on Albert and will have to pay him a hefty sum this season on a one-year deal unless the two sides can reach a deal for a long-term agreement. The deadline to do so is July 15th.

If the Chiefs and Albert can’t reach a deal by the deadline, Albert will play under the franchise tag for the duration of the season and the Chiefs will not be able to strike a new deal with the LT until after the season.

While it would be terrific if the Chiefs could lock up Albert now, there is absolutely no reason for them to overpay him. The team has the advantage on a number of fronts.

1. They still hold Albert’s rights next year

That’s right. Though it is unlikely the Chiefs will want to pay Albert two huge one-year deals in a row, the team can still use the franchise tag on him one more time if they wish. That gives the Chiefs enough leverage to not panic.

2. Eric Fisher

The Chiefs just selected Eric Fisher at the top of the 2013 draft. KC knows pretty much what it has in Albert. A good, if not unspectacular, LT.

Fisher is still a bit of a question mark. The Chiefs will have him on a rookie deal for a few years but if he turns into a top player, KC is going to eventually need cap space to pay him. GM John Dorsey may want to see what he has in Fisher before he commits a massive amount of money to Albert.

3. Donald Stephenson

Andy Reid seemed pretty high on Donald Stephenson during OTAs. Keeping Albert under the franchise tag for 2013 enables the coaching staff to evaluate their other offensive tackles during the season. Remember, the Chiefs are switching to a whole new offense and the blocking schemes so we have no idea how Stephenson will perform under Reid.

4. Long-term cap security

We like to go on and on about how talented the Chiefs are and how many Pro Bowlers the team has. Well, all that talent comes with a price. Also, if the Chiefs turn things around and start winning, it will because other players step up. While it is not impossible for a team to be a Super Bowl contender with a low payroll, it is hard to stay that way for very long. Top teams have stars and stars are expensive.

Reid and Dorsey did a good job of locking in KC’s core players. Thanks to some bargain contracts designed by former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, players like Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers and Jamaal Charles are locked up as bargains.

But players like Fisher, Eric Berry and Justin Houston are eventually going very expensive (though to be fair, Berry isn’t exactly cheap) so Dorsey needs to be very careful how he spends the team’s future money.

Some moves, like locking up Dwayne Bowe, were no-brainers. KC has no depth at WR. But the offensive line is young and talented. Dorsey can afford to wait a year to see what he has.

5. Albert’s stock could drop

Nobody wants Albert to play poorly, but the LTs stock could drop in 2013 for a number of reasons. Say Albert gets injured and only plays half the season. The Chiefs might move Eric Fisher over to LT or inser Donald Stephenson. If Stephenson plays well, close to the level of Albert, the Chiefs could feel good about letting Albert test free agency.

An injury could also lower Albert’s asking price, giving the Chiefs the chance to sign him at a team-friendly deal.

I want Branden Albert back as much as anyone. But what I also want is for the Chiefs to become a long-term NFL powerhouse. Signing Albert, who has never played at a Pro Bowl level, to a long-term, big-money contract, could be dangerous for the Chiefs. Keeping Albert on the franchise tag this season ensures he will continue to play hard because he’ll want to keep his value high for next offseason. It also affords the Chiefs great flexibility, leverage and time to develop and evaluate their other young offensive lineman.

The Chiefs may get a deal done with Albert before the deadline, but if they don’t, it won’t be the end of the world.

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    You can’t franchise him again. That means they’ll have paid $20 million in guaranteed money without long-term rights. To put that into perspective, Duane Brown got $22m from the Texans on his extension. If you’re going to guarantee him that kind of jack, sign him.

    I hope they get the deal done over the weekend. It will be really disappointing if they have to go into the season without a deal on the table. We have several other players with contracts expiring this season.

    • Patrick Allen

      I agree that they will likely never do it…but they CAN if they need to and that gives them a bit a of leverage.

      I agree it makes more sense to sign him at that point but strange things happen in the NFL. Sign and trade is also possible, if they absolutely have to.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Sure they have an option to tag him again, but it just wouldn’t make much sense. Sign and trades almost never happen. If this deal isn’t done over the weekend, I’d put the chance at him playing another season for the Chiefs at 5%.

        • ArrowFan

          That is the same number I gave for Bowe last year if he did’t get a contract as well.

        • Scott Mahurin

          Like Bowe. Almost zero chance they’ll sign him next year…oh, wait.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Because year-over-year we’ll be in the exact same position we were in with Bowe going into 2013? Last year there were only three FA’s of note we needed to re-sign. After next season there will be four (not including Albert). There’s also the possibility that Albert’s 2013 performance drives his asking price up. There’s also Tamba’s $11.5m cap number. There’s also Brandon Flowers extension to think about.

            The idea that Albert will re-sign because Bowe did, is peculiar to me. With the rest of the traffic we’ll have come March, I just don’t see him being re-signed.

    • Steven Swaggerty

      Excuse me, but I believe they CAN Franchise him again! If he leaves as a Free Agent, is it really a MAJOR LOSS?

      • Stacy D. Smith

        It’s an option, but it’s not a wise decision. Why would you give him 90% of what he’d get on a new deal and still not have his long-term rights?

        He got $9.5m this year. Next year they’ll have to pay him 120% of what he gets in 2013 ($11.4m). That will bring his two-year total of guaranteed money to $20.9m. Duane Brown got $22m from his extension with the Texans. Difference is, we’ll only have Albert’s rights through 2014.

        They CAN’T do that.

      • calciomoti

        Dang, I can’t tell from your posts whether you don’t want BA, or are just hell bent on attacking Stacy’s opinions…I agree with Stacy here, you just can’t do two years in a row of franchise on the same player, it just makes zero sense.

  • scomstock55

    I agree with the “wait and see” approach. Our o-line is relatively young and deep…
    If we did lose him to FA next year, what, if any, compensation would we get?
    Maybe some other team will lose a LT to injury and we could trade him for a pick or a position of need…that would be harder to to if we had him in a long term arrangement…

    • Jim Harper

      Actually it is usually easier to trade a player while he has several years remaining on his contract. Trading for a guy on his final year of his contract is very risky. He could walk on you the following year. If Albert leaves via free agency next year then we would get a compensatory pick the following year (likely a 3rd rounder like we got from the Cowboys this year). Personally I would rather see him signed now and be done with the drama and allow Dorsey to move on to other business like restructuring other contracts to relieve cap space and get Fisher signed.

  • Steven Swaggerty

    WHO CARES? Is Albert really an integral part of the CHIEFS long term success?

    • Stacy D. Smith

      A Top 7 left tackle in the NFL? Um…Yeah!

      • Steven Swaggerty

        On WHAT Planet is Albert a Top 7 Left Tackle? I suggest you: 1) Put the pipe down. 2) Level Out 3) Try to make a Level headed coherent statement, OK?

        • Stacy D. Smith

          Only 9 left tackles had a lower pressure rate in 2013. He gave up just 1 sack in 13 games. I can only think of two other guys in the league that did that (Clady and Okung). Top 7 may be slightly overzealous though. Top 10… #finalanswer

  • tm1946

    All thoughtful comments but doesn’t Albert want to be here as badly as fans want him?? T Gonzales had enough and moved on. Just saying it is a two way street and we will probably never know the whys behind actions.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    No contract offer on the table. Sigh.

  • sidibeke

    Clady just got a big 33 M guaranteed, averages over 10/year.

    I assume Albert is our Rent a Tackle for the year; he has plenty of incentive to play well, and we shift Fisher to LT next year, free up some money for other FAs (unless Fisher flops and then we try to sign him L-T). Probably a little more than I’d like to pay him with the tag for this year (9M), but all in all, not a horrible turn of events. And Miami still sucks at LT. They should have given us a 2nd rounder.