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Despite all of the talk about the quarterback position for the Kansas City Chiefs there is one player the team should be focused on right now, and that's left tackle Branden Albert.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Kansas City Chiefs front office and any and all decisions they've made since Scott Pioli took over as general manager prior to the 2009 season. Local radio, television, newspapers and anyone with a platform has picked and prodded all of those decisions because of the teams' struggles to start this 2012 season.
The criticism is justified because the team hasn't played up to expectations and so it should be expected. But as long as the people in charge are still in fact, in charge of this team. They should do what's best for this team whether it be short-term or long-term.
The talk of the town has been the quarterback position for the Chiefs and it almost seems inevitable now that a first-round pick at quarterback is going to happen next April. So while it might be the position of the utmost importance for the team to upgrade when looking at the big picture, when looking at the 'right now' it takes a backseat to the left tackle spot for the Chiefs.
Branden Albert is quietly having himself a fantastic season for the Kansas City Chiefs. He's currently ranked as the third best left tackle in all of football according to Pro Football Focus, trailing just the Houston Texans' Duane Brown and the Denver Broncos' Ryan Clady, That's pretty good company for a player who's in a contract year.
The Chiefs are currently built upon the ability to run the football. That's obvious as Jamaal Charles is currently second in the NFL in rushing with 415 yards rushing through the first four games. The left tackle would be a pretty big piece to an offensive line's ability to run the football. There are two scenario's that could play out for the Kansas City Chiefs next season in regards to left tackle and quarterback.
The first scenario for next season is the Chiefs don't draft a quarterback of the future next April and roll with either Matt Cassel or some other veteran castoff next season. If it's a veteran or Matt Cassel it doesn't really matter because contrary to this past off-season and Peyton Manning, you don't see Hall of Famers just hitting free agency and becoming available like that. Cassel or some other veteran, the Chiefs will still need to be a dominant rushing team to be successful on the offensive side of the ball. The Chiefs need Branden Albert.
If the Chiefs draft a quarterback of the future next April (GENO!!) who's going to protect his blindside? A second-year player in Donald Stephenson who, barring an injury, wouldn't have played yet at all? That's not really a great situation for a young quarterback. The Chiefs need Branden Albert.
The Chiefs have no reason to not get Albert signed to a long-term deal at some point this season. They've been very good in the past at extending guys' contracts during the season and using 'roster' bonuses as signing bonuses, which protect the teams' future cap situation and gives the players the 'up-front' cash they want when signing these big deals.
Amidst all of the turmoil that has gone on surrounding this team it wouldn't be a bad public relations move to reward one of your key players with the long-term deal they deserve. Branden Albert deserves a long-term deal and the Chiefs need him moving forward.
Some of the other deals around the league for left tackles should give some kind of insight into what type of deal Albert may be looking at when he gets his pay day. Duane Brown of the Houston Texans signed a 6-year, $53.4 million deal back in August. Joe Thomas, who's widely considered one of the best left tackles in all of football signed a 7-year, $84 million deal in August 2011. Ryan Clady of the Denver Broncos reportedly turned down a 5-year deal worth $50 million just this past off-season.
The ball park for Albert's deal will range between $9 - $12 million a year with whomever he signs an extension based on these other deals, and hopefully that's the Kansas City Chiefs. We don't want another Dwayne Bowe/Brandon Carr situation where we have to franchise tag one guy and let the other guy walk away. Maybe that was the plan all along but we KNOW how important Dwayne Bowe is to this offense and signing Albert to an extension during the season gives us options on how to proceed with Bowe this off-season.
The Chiefs are sitting with around $26 million in cap room for this season and signing Albert to a long-term deal with a nice big roster bonus would go a long ways in showing fans they have a plan for that money. The Chiefs have used this tactic in the past with other players and maybe we'll see at some point this season that they do the same thing with Albert.