Reports have surfaced in the past few days that both the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins — both left tackle-needy teams — could be prime landing spots for free agent Branden Albert.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Albert's representatives spoke at length in Indianapolis over the weekend, the Shutdown Corner has learned, and it's no certainty that he'll leave. But the Chiefs will face serious competition if Albert hits the open market on March 11, the start of free agency.
And you can add another team to the list that will consider Albert: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New Buccaneers GM Jason Licht was in the Arizona front office last season when the talk of making a run at Albert was entertained before he was shackled by the franchise tag in 2013. The Bucs now have Donald Penn at left tackle, but he grades as a lower-end player at his position, and the team is believed to be looking to upgrade the offensive line at a few spots. The Buccaneers have more than $15 million in cap space and could clear more if they cut expensive and ineffective guard Davin Joseph, and possibly Penn with if a new left tackle made his way on the roster.
Albert played last season on the one-year franchise tender and there has been little actual movement toward a long-term deal with the Chiefs. He was believed to be seeking a deal last season in the $8-10 million range annually, although it's not clear what his value might be a year leader.
Albert had a strong season for the Chiefs, keeping No. 1 pick Eric Fisher at right tackle, but suffered a knee injury late in the season, causing him to miss final four games. Thankfully, it was not considered serious and he's 100 percent healthy. For what it's worth, Chiefs GM John Dorsey said at the NFL scouting combine this past weekend that, as of now, he viewed Fisher at the team's right tackle next season, and there's no likely incumbent for Albert on the left side if he signed elsewhere.
A long-term deal still could happen with the Chiefs, but the clock is ticking and pressure — and likely the price — is rising with more teams believed to be interested in his services than initially reported.
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