Back in March when asked via twitter if he would be willing to move to right tackle, Branden Albert simply responded, “Nope.” Then, after being asked if he was strictly a left tackle his response was, “You damn right.” Head coach Andy Reid responded to Albert’s demands by giving him exactly what he wants in spite of what’s best for the team.
On Friday, the Kansas City Chiefs signed offensive tackle Eric Fisher to a five-year contract worth $22.2 million with a $14.5 million signing bonus. It’s very strange that it took the No. 1 overall pick this long to sign with the NFL‘s last collective bargaining agreement instituting a rookie wage scale. Considering how they have handled Albert, it’s possible Fisher thought the Chiefs are in the habit of giving a baby its bottle and he wanted to see what he could get.
After selecting a left tackle No. 1 overall in April’s draft, Reid decided to move Fisher and not Albert. Fisher is clearly the left tackle of the future for the Chiefs, and catering to Albert in what is almost definitely his last season in Kansas City makes no sense. Albert and the Chiefs are miles apart on what they believe he is worth, and he will likely play out his franchise tag and test the free-agent market when the season is done — of course, he could be tagged one more time if the Chiefs wanted to.
The Chiefs are coming off of an atrocious season and a lack of discipline was a big factor to their failure in 2012. The last thing Kansas City needs is another “player’s coach.” The offensive tackle situation would have been a perfect opportunity for Reid to make an example out of a player and show everyone who’s in charge, but instead he gave the squeaky wheel the grease. Now Fisher will likely spend his rookie season at right tackle and immediately move to left tackle next season.
It would be the right move for Reid to allow Fisher to learn his position at the professional level, and at the same time, set a tone of discipline for the team. It may be embarrassing for Reid to switch them back at this point but it should be done. The worst case scenario is Albert refuses to play and gets suspended without pay. That would be a definite blow to the offense but at least Reid would establish some much needed control over the team.
In all likelihood, Albert wouldn’t refuse to play. It makes no sense for him to sit on the shelf and let the $9.3 million he is owed for the season go down the drain when he has no other options. It would also be a major blow to his value in free agency if he sits out for an entire season. Reid needs to put his foot down and show the team that divas will not be tolerated.