Alex Smith Trade Could Force Kansas City Chiefs to Re-Sign Tackle Branden Albert
The Kansas City Chiefs made a big splash this week when they worked a big trade and acquired former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith for a 2nd round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, and the potential for up to an additional 2nd round pick in 2014 depending on Smith’s play.
The Chiefs fan community is very much divided by this decision and over the course of the last 12 hours or so social media has been adamant in either their support or vilification of this move.
While I am not going to sit in judgment of the trade on it’s surface, there are potentially some significant repercussions from this move. The Chiefs have two key free agents that are at positions of key importance to the future of this franchise. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert. Both are starters and both are excellent players, however most wouldn’t put them among the top 10 for either of them at their respective position.
Whether or not Bowe stays at this point is really secondary. This team has weapons on offense with or without Bowe. What Smith likes to do on offense, and what head coach Andy Reid likes to do on offense does not require a big physical boundary receiver like Bowe. So Bowe moving on to a greener pastures doesn’t impact this team on nearly the level that Albert leaving would hit them.
Many pundits, myself included, assume that with this trade the Chiefs will now turn their attention to using their No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft on Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel, and allow Albert to leave via free agency. On the surface this plan seems to be both reasonable and practical. Joeckel is an amazing tackle prospect, much better than Albert and would likely be signed at a discount compared to what Albert would command on the open market. Obviously the Chiefs have multiple options at No.1 overall, so nothing is set in stone as this team needs multiple positions on both sides of the football.
The only wrinkle in this little plan has to do with the pick the Chiefs gave up to get Smith. Originally it was speculated that the Chiefs would offer the 49ers a third this year, and possibly a third next in the deal. But when the stakes were upped to a second, it put an entirely different spin on the rebuilding.
I realize that many like to point to the six Pro Bowl players on this two-win team last year, but the fact remains this team isn’t very good. On defense in particular there are some huge holes along the defensive line and in the secondary, along with inside linebacker. In a draft like this, that 2nd round pick would be invaluable to filling one of those needs. An immediate starter who could impact this team.
And so without that pick, the Chiefs should entertain the possibility of re-signing Albert to a new contract, and then regain leverage with that first round pick. They would no longer be chained to the idea of drafting a replacement tackle, and could then parlay that pick into a trade back and re-build their draft picks that way. With players like Joeckel, Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and a litany of others, that pick could certainly have significant value.
So with all this, I started to put together a hypothetical. If the Chiefs were able to keep Albert, and work a trade with a team starved for an offensive tackle, for example the St. Louis Rams at no.16. They already hold two first round picks, so they can afford to gamble and offensive tackle is far and away their greatest need.
In this draft that #1 overall pick won’t be as pricey as in the past, but they should be able to turn it back into a 2nd round pick this year and in the middle of 1st still get a player who can really help them win.
The Chiefs have started making some real moves this offseason and they have an opportunity to continue the momentum into the draft. They were aggressive in their move to get Smith and so I don’t expect them to take the foot of the pedal leading into the draft.