The Kansas City Chiefs are going into the 2013 season with a whole lot to be excited about. They have a new head coach in Andy Reid, a new general manager in John Dorsey, and fans, players and everyone in the community is excited about a new beginning. But with that excitement still comes some aprehension and concern because now that these new powers are in control, one of the big questions that must be answered is, “What to do with free agent left tackle Branden Albert?”. Let’s look at some of the options.
Obviously their first choice is to re-sign Albert to an extension. Albert was a very good tackle in 2012, ranking by most experts somewhere between the 10th and 15th best tackle in the league in terms of sacks allowed, penalties, etc. But the challenge is in determining what is the value of Albert over the course of the next five years.
Regardless of what his agent might say, Albert will not command a salary to put him among the highest paid tackles in the league, and give him a base salary up near $10 million per year. There are really two players I would look at before determining a figure. First is Albert’s teammate, tackle Eric Winston. He was signed by the chiefs last season as a free agent and was almost universally considered one of the top right tackles in the league.
If we use the figured from 2012 adjusted up slightly, the number one pick in the 2013 draft is going to sign a contact very close to four years and $30 million. The reason Joeckel is included in this is because should the Chiefs choose not to re-sign Albert their first round pick will almost certainly be Joeckel. So, if I am the Chiefs front office, I go to Albert with a figure somewhere in between those 2, and hope that he understands that he’s not going to command much more than that on the open market.
Their other option is to let Albert walk and replace him via either a free agent or the draft. The choice between the 2 will depend in large part about how much they want to spend. If they aren’t willing to spend $40 million on Albert, it would be silly to instead spend it on a player like Jake Long instead. So sticking with the tenant of staying reasonable with their spending there is a nice list of potential mid-level offensive free agent tackles out there they could replace Albert with.
Or, they could lean to the draft and spend that number-one pick on Joeckel. In terms of potential and talent, Joeckel makes the most sense in this scenario. He’s an amazing tackle prospect, much better than any free agent the Chiefs could sign for 4 years and $30 million. The obvious concern with this scenario is that this team still needs a new quarterback and using that top pick for a position other than that would force them to most likely dig into free agency for their new signal-caller.
What would you do Chiefs fans? Do you pay big bucks to Albert to protect your new quarterback, or do you let him walk? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know what you want to do.