COMMENTARY | According to a report from ESPN's Bill Williamson, the Kansas City Chiefs and Branden Albert will pick up negotiations next week on a long-term contract. As a player under the franchise-tag designation, the left tackle has until July 15 to sign a deal or discussions will have to be curbed until after the season.
If no agreement is made by the deadline, Albert will make just shy of $10 million this season under the tag.
After a tumultuous offseason that saw Albert tagged, almost traded and tugged in every possible direction -- which culminated in a Twitter tirade and his subsequent exit from the social media site -- it will be interesting to see whether the two sides can actually hammer out a deal.
With this decision looming, Kansas City's insurance policy included using the No. 1 overall pick on a guy who could be considered the team's left tackle of the future. The Chiefs did so by drafting Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan, though he is expected to play right tackle for at least the 2013 season.
While Fisher may eventually slide over to the left side, the Chiefs seem interested in retaining both for now. This would force Kansas City to invest heavily in its offensive line, but the organization would have to get creative with the structure of both contracts.
The Chiefs currently have less than $4 million in cap space to work with. With Fisher still unsigned (and all sources indicate that he will) Kansas City could leverage a long-term deal with Albert to free up some money to ink the rookie -- though this could require the team upping the ante on previous offers to Albert.
But if the plan is to have them both anchor the offensive line for the foreseeable future, the investment would be significant regardless. If Albert is eventually signed, however, the issue then becomes who plays where long-term; and Albert has already made it known that he is against a position switch -- though that hesitation could be geared more towards maximizing his value on the open market.
If it is the Chiefs who eventually pony up, Albert may be more open to the idea of moving to the right side or to the interior of the offensive line where he played at the University of Virginia. If no deal is done, however, it is not necessarily a bad thing for either side.
Albert would be paid handsomely and have a full season to prove he is one of the best left tackles in the NFL, and Kansas City would have a guy who seems focused on doing just that.
And besides, next offseason is set up for the sequel should the July 15 deadline pass with no contract news.
Jeremy Sickel has successfully created and operated numerous websites, including Podcast to Be Named Later--where he is the co-host of the site's up-and-coming podcast. Jeremy's work can be read on Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, and he has also appeared on various sports talk shows around the country.
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