On trading Branden Albert and drafting his replacement
The Kansas City Star
NEW YORK — There is a frustrating thought among some Chiefs fans that goes beyond this merely being a rotten year to have the first pick in the NFL Draft.
The way things look at the moment — with Branden Albert unhappy over his contract and the Chiefs going far enough into trade talks with the the Dolphins to allow talk with Albert’s agent about an extension — the Chiefs appear set to use the first pick on an unproven left tackle and trade their proven left tackle for a second-round pick.
So what the hell?
This has been translated by many as the Chiefs essentially giving up the first pick, of creating a new problem to solve instead of focusing on the ones already here.
I’ve had this same thought at times. You don’t get better by letting your best players go, and that’s what the Chiefs would be doing by giving up Albert.
But I’m starting to see this differently. Three personnel folks I’ve talked to in recent days — none employed by the Chiefs — have said Albert is asking for more money than he’s worth. He’s essentially viewed as a good player demanding great money. Pro Football Focus, if you’re into such things, had Albert as the 25th best tackle last year and the 17th best left tackle. I think that’s a little low, but whatever, he’s asking for top-five money.
Unhappy players can spoil a locker room, so instead of keeping him these men say the best thing might be a trade. Actually, instead of paraphrasing the folks who spoke on condition of anonymity, let’s just quote the one who said it on the record. Take it away, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock:
“Branden Albert’s a good, solid NFL left tackle. From my perspective, he’s asking for an awful lot of money for a long term deal. The NFL’s all about kind of churning veterans, and trying to bring rookies in who can do the same thing for less money. When I talk about Joeckel, Fisher and Johnson, I’m talking about three tackels I think can be Joe Thomas type players in one draft. So whichever one (the Chiefs) take, I think he’s going to be a premier left tackle at an All-Pro level. So I think he’s going to be a better football player than Branden Albert.”
It would be convenient if this draft had a likely franchise quarterback, an obvious monster defensive lineman, or even a Calvin Johnson-type receiver. Then the Chiefs could take a position of need (this assumes a top QB prospect would’ve kept them from trading for Alex Smith, of course) and avoid this other stuff.
But that is not the world we live in. The world we live in is one in which the Chiefs may very well upgrade a premiere position for the long-term, and get an extra pick or two.