The deadline for franchising or transitioning players has come and gone, and as expected, the Chiefs did not use either tag on longtime left tackle Branden Albert.
The news is hardly a surprise. NFL teams had until 3 p.m. Monday to make use of either designation.
The Chiefs prevented Albert, 29, from hitting free-agency last year by using the franchise tag at a cost of $9.8 million. But doing so again would have cost the Chiefs even more this year (roughly $11.8 million), and general manager John Dorsey said at last week’s NFL scouting combine that the club probably wouldn’t tag any player this year.
That said, while Dorsey also reiterated that the Chiefs have continued to talk with Albert’s representatives regarding an extension, they now stand to lose him when free-agency starts March 11.
The Chiefs are currently expected to be about $9.62 million under the cap — barring any unforeseen contract extensions or restructuring — but several teams have more money to spend. It’s not hard to imagine Albert aiming for something in the neighborhood of the five-year, $51.3 million deal that 32-year-old left tackle Jason Peters just received from Philadelphia.
Miami and Arizona are among the teams thathave been publicly linked
to Albert, and the numbers bear out why. Bradley Sowell, Arizona’s starting left tackle, struggled mightily in 2013 — his grade of negative-38.4 ranked dead last among eligible players — while Miami’s Jonathan Martin graded out at negative-6.9 (ranked 60th) and is not expected to return after the Dolphins’ bullying scandal.
Albert battled through an assortment of injuries last season and missed four games (as well as parts of several more), but he still would represent a massive upgrade at the position for many teams. Albert posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 10.0 in 2013, which ranked 28th among all 76 tackles who played at least 25 percent of their teams’ offensive snaps.
Albert’s grade is also significantly higher than the Chiefs’ other tackles, Donald Stephenson and Eric Fisher, who ranked 64th (negative-8.7) and 70th (negative-17.8) but would presumably be the starting tackles in 2014 if Albert, a seven-year pro, walks.
Albert, who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 316 pounds, will turn 30 this season. He’s started 83 of 96 possible regular-season games in Kansas City after being taken with the 15th overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft.