Four NFL teams kicked off their offseason programs on Monday, including the Kansas City Chiefs, who are beginning the first season of the Andy Reid era.
The Chiefs had 64 of 65 players under contract attend the start of the workout program, but were without left tackle Branden Albert, Randy Covitz of the Kansas City Star reports.
“You’ll find I don’t get caught up in that," Reid said when asked if he was disappointed by Albert's absence. "The guys that are here we’ll work with, and that gives the next man the opportunity to get better and get ready to play."
Albert has signed the $9.828 million franchise tender he received this offseason, but his status with the club remains up in the air. The Chiefs, who hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, could use the pick on left tackle prospects Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) or Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), which may result in Albert moving from his left tackle spot to right tackle or possibly inside to guard. Albert has been resistant to such a move as it would have a negative impact on the value of a multi-year contract and a trade to another team remains a possibility.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on "NFL AM" on the NFL Network, Albert said he's seeking clarity and a long-term commitment from the Chiefs.
"If it's something I have to do, I'll have to do it. But I'd rather not," Albert said about skipping mandatory workouts (via Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com). "I want that long-term commitment. But as you know in football, you don't have too much control of the situation. I want to play for the Chiefs, but I want that commitment long-term."
This portion of the Chiefs' workouts are voluntary, so while Albert is under contract, the club is not permitted to fine him for his absence. The only financial ramifications of Albert skipping the workouts is that he will miss out on the $175 per day players receive to attend the voluntary workout program. The only mandatory dates in the Chiefs' workout program is the mini-camp, which runs from June 4-6.
Furthermore, Albert is not missing any on-field workouts by skipping the start of the program.
The Chiefs are only in "Phase One" of the offseason workouts, which are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only for the first two weeks. These workouts are followed by three weeks of "Phase Two" workouts, which include individual instruction and drills, but no live contact or "offense vs. defense" drills. The time for the Chiefs to be concerned about Albert's participation in these workouts comes in "Phase Three", which include the ten organized team activity (OTAs) practices, which run from May 14-16, May 21-23 and conclude on May 28-31, and include full team drills (but without contact).
Those dates will come after the draft, by which time Albert's long-term status with the franchise will certainly have been clarified.