We're going through some of the big questions facing the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. Yesterday was the return of the injured guys, like Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki. And today we'll be looking at the offensive tackle situation.
The Chiefs have just three offensive tackles under contract next season -- Branden Albert, Steve Maneri and David Mims. Albert, of course, is the starting left tackle and the other two are reserves. OTs Barry Richardson and Ryan O'Callaghan are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents.
Left tackle and right tackle are really two different issues but we'll combine them here, starting with left tackle. Does Branden Albert need to be replaced?
You can always upgrade at a position but Albert probably shouldn't be a priority at this point. 2012 will be the final year of his contract so he should get the opportunity to play next season out before the Chiefs determine what they'll do with him longterm. And if 2011 is any indication, Albert may very well return to KC for the foreseeable future.
Here's what Pro Football Focus said about the guy they called the most improved Chief:
In some respects, Albert looked like a guard playing tackle his first three years in the league. You can't say that anymore after a drastic turnaround in performance that saw the Chiefs' left tackle finish the year in fifth position in our Offensive Tackle Pass Blocking Efficiency ranking, giving up just 24 combined sacks, hits, and hurries. A year earlier, that number was 40 (on 59 fewer pass blocks) - an indication of how far he has come.
So, yeah, there are probably bigger priorities than left tackle.
Moving onto the other side, right tackle is an area that everyone knows the Chiefs need to upgrade. GM Scott Pioli pointed out the offensive line specifically as an area that needs to be better and I think that starts at right tackle. Richardson, the starter last season, is scheduled to be a free agent and I think the Chiefs should let him walk. I also think the Chiefs should strongly consider drafting his replacement in the first round (yes, gasp, a first round right tackle). I get the feeling this season is about making Matt Cassel successful (as it is every year with every team and their quarterback) and the easiest way to do that, outside of adding receivers, which the Chiefs have done, is to upgrade the offensive line.
So, methinks the Chiefs are getting a new right tackle in 2012. Who that is...I don't know yet. But Pioli will have free agency and then the draft to figure that out.