Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Branden Albert (76) during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
How likely is a Branden Albert-Scott Pioli reunion this offseason? The initial thought would seem to be “doubtful” but Vaughn McClure of ESPN says Alberts’ name did come up at last week’s Senior Bowl.
"The Falcons sorely need help along the offensive and defensive lines.…It was only natural for someone to link Albert and the Falcons immediately after Scott Pioli was hired as the assistant general manager under Dimitroff. Pioli was the general manager in Kansas City for four years with Albert, although he didn’t draft the offensive tackle."
Albert has a few things going for him should he hit free agency: He’ll likely be the best offensive tackle on the market and there are a lot of teams that need to upgrade at left tackle. This combination means he’s due for a sizable contract beyond his actual worth. Consider PFF (Pro Football Focus) rated Albert as the 28th best tackle in the NFL this season. This reality may be enough to scare the frugal Pioli away.
Then there is this from McClure:
"It seems unlikely that the Falcons will try to make a big-splash in free agency with an offensive tackle. If they’re going to spend the money, they might as well spend it on a pass-rusher."
We can probably go ahead and say Albert is going to end up with the Falcons, but it does speak to the market Albert may be entering. It is no longer a two-team market consisting of Miami and Arizona. In addition to those teams, Atlanta, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tennessee Titans could/should be in the market for offensive tackle help this offseason. Most of those teams could have tackle as their number one priority.
Watching what happens with Albert over the next few months is going to be very interesting.