The Branden Albert reports and rumors will not go away even after the end of the 2013 NFL draft.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports Albert is still on the trading block and Kansas City is looking for 2014 draft picks. Cole says that the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, San Diego Chargers, and Arizona Cardinals may have interest because they did not fill their left tackle needs in the draft.
Let’s break this down a little bit.
Cole notes the Dolphins were willing to meet Albert’s contract demands which fortifies previous reports saying the same thing. It also furthers the point that it is the Chiefs who prevented the Miami deal because of their compensation demands. From here we gather two things: John Dorsey is willing to roll with Albert for another year at left tackle and he is not going to trade Albert for less than what he is worth.
Cole also says teams trying to trade for Albert may try to leverage the Chiefs drafting of Eric Fisher as the number one overall pick to try to lower the price. It will be argued Dorsey cannot re-sign Albert now because Albert won’t play anywhere else but left tackle and playing the number one overall pick at right tackle for the next four or five years would be a huge reduction in value.
While the circumstances are admittedly different, Dorsey will point to Green Bay’s willingness to draft Aaron Rodgers in the first round and then sit him on the bench for three seasons. Remember, this was during the old collective bargaining agreement which means Rodgers was eating up a significant amount of salary cap space while riding the pine. Dorsey will point to the Rodgers story as a reason for why he would not care about starting Fisher at right tackle.
Dorsey may also add that if Albert gets paid left tackle money by the Chiefs then Albert may not care as much about a move to the right side. Let’s be honest, Albert made the stink he made on twitter about refusing to move to the right tackle because he knows it would have cost him millions of dollars in contract negotiations. That’s all the mini-rant was about: Money. He may very well be okay with playing right tackle if he is making $10 million per season.
Finally, some fans are pointing to salary cap figures as a reason why Kansas City must trade him or why their team cannot trade for Albert. There’s a few things to note about this argument.
According to the NFL’s salary cap numbers about a third of the league cannot afford to sign all of their draft picks right now. The Redskins have $29K – that’s right, thousand - in cap space to pay for all of their picks. The Dolphins would be left with about $2 million left in cap space after rookie signings yet they claim they’d be willing to meet Albert’s contract demands which they could not afford. This means there is still a lot of maneuvering to be done between cuts and contract restructuring around the league.
Also, anywhere Albert ends up – except for maybe Kansas City – he’s going to get a new contract which can be structured to fit any team’s salary cap situation. It is true that will be easier for some teams more than others but most teams who may be in on Albert can navigate the cap pretty easily if they wanted to acquire Albert.
Point: Most of the salary cap arguments are silly as there are plenty of ways for a team to get around it without hurting the franchise.
Still, there are definitely some teams that have a very low chance to land Albert, starting with San Diego. It would seem like the longest of shots that Kansas City would allow Albert to go to San Diego without some kind of crippling trade haul. The last thing Dorsey needs is to trade a player to a division rival and see that player succeed at a high level. Unless San Diego is offering a first round pick plus another pick or two (which will never happen) I doubt we’ll see Albert in a Chargers uniform.
There may be too many dominoes that would have to fall for the Lions to land Albert. Detroit has a need at left tackle and could clear some costs to fit in Albert in the short-term, so in that respect a deal makes sense. However, they probably could not meet Albert’s contract demands because of all the long-term money Detroit gave Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, and Calvin Johnson. It is certainly possible Detroit could make the deal, clear some cap space, and negotiate Albert’s price down from his current demands, but that’s too many moving parts to think a Detroit deal could happen.
This leaves Arizona and Miami as the two best options. Both teams have salary cap flexibility and extreme needs at left tackle. Arizona does have some uncertainty with their 2014 draft picks because they sent a conditional pick to Oakland for Carson Palmer so that could come into play. Miami still has all of their picks as of now.
One would think Miami is still the leader to land Albert based on the status of general manager Jeff Ireland’s job, but it would not be surprising to see Arizona pulling the trigger on a deal. Any deal should net Kansas City at least a second round pick and maybe more depending on if there is a bidding war. Do not expect the Chiefs to end up with a first round pick or expect a potential second pick to be anything higher than a sixth rounder.
The biggest downside for Kansas City is if Albert plays another year for the Chiefs and then leaves via free agency in 2014. In that case the Chiefs may end up with only a third round compensation pick in the 2015 draft, which isn’t optimal but better than nothing.
A disaster scenario would involve Albert getting injured which would net Kansas City nothing.