A Branden Albert Trade Wouldn’t Make Sense

The word has been hanging in the NFL air for the last week or so. It comes not from Andy Reid or John Dorsey, but those unnamed sources and other league personnel that are always popping up at this time of the year.

The plot is that the Chiefs are not only listening to offers of trade involving Branden Albert, but they are actively pursuing such a deal.

The general manager has not publicly said that. When lasted quoted, Dorsey said talks were continuing with Albert and his agent on a long-term deal. He also has talked about how the new regime wants to reward its own players first. By doing that it sends a message throughout the roster about management backing up the stated goal of retaining and rewarding their own.

Reid hasn’t said that Albert is trade bait; he indicated this past week at the league meetings in Phoenix that he considers Albert one of the best left tackles in the league.

So what the heck is going on here?

More than 35 years in the media whirl around the NFL allows me to say this with some certainty: somebody with the Chiefs is talking about trading Albert, and they are talking about it with certain national media types in hopes of getting the idea out there with as much coverage as possible.

It’s like the deep sea fisherman that goes out for the afternoon in hopes of hooking a shark or two or ten. So he dumps a load of chum in the water, hoping it attracts the sharks. If the Chiefs are trying to find out what type of deal they could score for any one of their players, they should do that. Maybe it shouldn’t be done so publicly, but that can be the nature of the business.

It’s just hard to believe that Reid and Dorsey would deal away a better than average left tackle that is just 28 years old and should have his best football ahead of him. They are such smart football minds that it’s near impossible to believe they would contemplate such a move.

But somebody that the media trusts is telling them that the Chiefs are indeed considering trading their left tackle if they can get something attractive in return.

OK, let’s slide on the Florsheims of Reid and Dorsey and try to figure out what they are thinking and why it makes sense to them.

It may simply be that they do not want to carry the $9.828 million franchise number on their books and under the cap for the 2013 season. So why make him the franchise player? Why not just let him walk away and not be on the hook for nearly $10 million for this season? That’s an easy one to answer – they didn’t want Albert to get away without bringing something back. Unlike the previous GM who let a lot of good players walk away from the Chiefs without getting anything in return (Bernard Pollard, Wade Smith, Brian de la Puente, Brandon Carr, Kyle Orton, etc.) Reid and Dorsey wanted to protect their interest in Albert. The franchise tag may have been simply a hold card on Albert, allowing them to shop him without the deadline of the start of free agency hanging over the situation.

It’s not like the Chiefs do not have room under the salary cap to keep Albert and that franchise tender number. But like a lot of teams, they are developing a lopsided cap right now. The top 5 salary cap numbers for the 2013 season account for more than 40 percent of the entire cap space – OLB Tamba Hali ($15.5 million), SS Eric Berry ($10.2 million), Albert ($9.8 million), CB Brandon Flowers ($9.6 million) and QB Alex Smith ($8.5 million). That means the other 46 highest paid players will have to fight over the other 60 percent of the salary cap space. Whether it happens this year or next, at some point Reid and Dorsey must start jumping through those salary cap hoops to make room like other teams do on a yearly basis.

It seems doubtful that the salary cap is the problem at this moment. Maybe it’s the inability to get a long-term contract that rankles the Chiefs. It’s not too hard to figure out the problem – Albert and his agent have a view that he should get more money than the Chiefs think he’s worth; that’s the heart of any financial dispute between an employee and employer.

But the way contracts work today, using the franchise tag can sometimes be a financial advantage for a team in cash dollars. Deals are paying out all the money early in the contracts; how many times have we seen a 5-year deal for say $50 million where $36 million gets paid out in the first 3 years.

Let’s say the Chiefs keep Albert under the $9.828 number. They can turn around and franchise him again in 2014, as he’ll be due 120 percent of the previous year’s salary, or right at $11.7 million. So for two years, that’s basically a 2-year $21.6 million deal. The only problem for the Chiefs is no cap relief, since the money counts under each season and can’t be prorated.

That may not be the best plan, but it also would give them another season with Albert at left tackle. It would also give them two full seasons for their No. 1 pick (Luke Joeckel/Eric Fisher/Lane Johnson) to get his feet wet in the NFL. It would give Donald Stephenson two more years to show he’s capable of being a full-time starter at right tackle. All that is possible thanks to the new rookie pay system; the No. 1 pick will not be making the same type of money as Albert’s $9.828 million under the cap.

Albert and his contract are not at the point where something needs to be done and done quickly. If they can find a team that will give them a 1st and 2nd-round choices in the next NFL Draft then I understand. Not a pair of picks in the next two years, but two big picks in this year’s selection meeting.

Otherwise, they should get off this notion of dealing Branden Albert. The Chiefs went 2-14 last year because they didn’t have enough talent. To improve, they can’t afford to get rid of one of the few good players that they have in return for someone that might be as good.

And it’s folly to trade a good 28-year old left tackle, especially when the head coach wants an offense that’s going to throw the ball 60 to 65 percent of the time.

Keep Albert and use the draft pick to fill another hole on the roster – there are plenty that need filled.


8 Responses to “A Branden Albert Trade Wouldn’t Make Sense”

  • March 22, 2013  - txchief says:

    At last! A voice of reason! The very idea of trading Branden Albert for a second round pick and drafting Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher is lunacy! The net gain for the Chiefs would be in essence trading away the 1-1 pick for a second round draft pick and coming out cheaper on the payroll for an unproven LT.

    This time of year is truly BS season where the coaches and GMs are sending up smoke screens and the sports writers are inventing trade and draft scenarios to spur readership. I just hope that the new regime doesn’t get too cute and outsmart themselves.

    You are absolutely correct Bob. Use the 1-1 pick to select a player who can fill a need and improve the overall talent level of the Chiefs. I say QB, but most disagree with me. Otherwise, draft some type of impact player like Star Lotulelei or or Shariff Floyd and pray that the Chiefs DL curse doesn’t repeat itself. This “select the best player regardless of need” crap might be valid in the later rounds of the draft, but not with the first selection of the first round. The chance of KC really getting a windfall with a trade of the first pick seems remote.


  • March 22, 2013  - pharmer says:

    except for if Albert isn’t willing to do what is best for the team. If that is the case, and he isn’t willing to switch positions or whatever is asked of him, then get him the heck out of there while they can get something in return and have the opportunity to draft his replacement.


  • March 23, 2013  - COCHIEF says:

    Could this be a ploy to get Albert to sign a longer term contract at a reasonable price?

    Or, are they unsure of Alberts physical condition and are afraid he may now be injury prone?

    Or, is it possible that there is nothing to the rumors in the first place?

    Certainly there is no reason to trade him if he is healthy and willing to sign at a reasonable price.


  • March 23, 2013  - milkman says:

    COCHIEF brings up a good point. Over the years I’ve noticed that any time you start hearing about an offensive lineman who has back problems it seems those problems hang around or continually keep coming back throughout the rest of that player’s career.

    I’m not saying Albert won’t go on from here and be a productive player. I’m just saying that there’s a good chance this nagging problem will keep coming back from time to time. This is coming from someone who unfortunately knows from experience.

    Problem is though that if the Chiefs are thinking this, then I’m sure other teams are also. This would also explain the Chief’s reluctance to commit to Albert long term, along with their obvious interest in a younger player at this position.

    If Reid and Dorsey are truly convinced Albert’s back problems are behind him, then they’ll no doubt sign him long term. If they are not convinced however, then i’d say it’s safe to assume their comments that his health is not an issue is just part of a smoke screen.


  • March 23, 2013  - el cid says:

    You have to give the HC the tools he feels he needs to succeed.

    If Albert is the guy for Reid, get a long term contract as soon as possible. If not, get something for him.

    My only concern is Albert’s back. Backs are never fixed, players play thru them for their career’s sake.

    Wait and see, long term contract or may be last year here. Then he may have no value and we do not have a young’en to follow him. Catch 22, maybe but some posters seem a little over the top about this. Change is the only constant.


  • March 23, 2013  - johnfromfairfax says:

    It all depends on the issue with a back injury. If it’s a muscle issue it can heal without chronic problems. If you’ve ever had back spasms you know how incapacitating they can be in the short term. these types of injuries are also more of a problem with an older player (read 30′s in the NFL) because they start taking longer to heal.

    If it’s discs or bone (vertebrae) and nerves then it is probably more of a problem. I doubt the Chiefs would commit almost 10 million in cap space if they thought he couldn’t play for them, let alone another team. Remember any other team is going to give him a full physical with batteries of tests before they’ll sign off on him. How probable is it the Chiefs would pay Albert franchise money because they feel they could okey doke another team into taking him or if they thought he couldn’t play for them this year if they can’t convince somebody else into taking him injured.

    I haven’t heard Reid or Dorsey talk about Albert switching positions. Perhaps they put the trade talk out to see what the reaction was and hopefully tamp down Albert’s push for bigger money based on what his value would be to other teams at this point as a left tackle. If they can lock him up to a long term deal for less this year then they can move on and not have to deal with this all over again next year. The alternative is completely rebuilding their line this year probably with at least one rookie and other inexperienced players stepping in.


  • March 23, 2013  - cychief24 says:

    Bob’s words, “a better than average left tackle.”

    If Albert won’t be a team player and move to guard or RT where he would be “better than average” along with his back issues then why not move him when he has value? Remember we have Stephenson and just got Schmitt.

    What if we got a 2nd and maybe another conditional for Albert? We draft Joeckel as a potential Pro Bowler (something BA will never be)for less than half the cap space and have the 2nd pick to improve another position.

    It looks like to me that Reid/Dorsey like to put feelers out and are willing to make smart moves out of the box. I think some of us are still burned by Pioli reaching for guys he could have drafted a round or 2 later that some are gun-shy.

    I’ll almost be surprised if KC stands pat and just drafts as is. Either Reid/Dorsey trade Albert for a 2nd +, or they trade out of #1-1 for their #1, #2 and a conditional +

    It will be fun watching proven winners make these decisions!


  • March 23, 2013  - brainsmasher66 says:

    Branden Albert has proven he can play left tackle in the NFL at a high level. Dorsey and Reid are not fools. They aren’t going to draft a left tackle and hope he can play (Tony Mandarich)and move a guy who has proven he can play the position to another position. This isn’t fantasy football.

    If they take a tackle with the first pick they will play him at right tackle unless they trade Albert. The ONLY reason to trade Albert is the concerns about his back problem.




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