From the FanPosts. I like these theories. -Joel
Branden Albert signed his franchise tender today, and the rumors started flying hot and heavy. And the crowd is predictably going wild because it is the season of smoke and mirrors in the NFL: draft time. Let's look at what this all really means.
There are two issues at play here: 1) the Chiefs want desperately to recoup the second round pick they sent to the 49ers in the Alex Smith trade, and, 2) they have to fill the holes at LT and RT. Neither of those things are insignificant. It is accepted as near-Biblical truth that you build a football team from the inside out. That is, you start on the offensive and defensive lines and build from there. (But the QB is the most important position in sports. Just go with it.)
The Chiefs, as of right this moment, are looking at starting Albert and Donald Sephenson at LT and RT, respectively (Geoff Schwartz is a dark horse for the RT job.) There's nothing particularly wrong with that, Albert is a top-10 or 15 LT and Stephenson filled in admirably when Albert was injured last year. However, if they trade Albert the Chiefs are looking at a starting OL of (from left to right): Stephenson, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. That's significantly worse than Albert-Allen-Hudson-Asamoah-Stephenson. So how do the Chiefs fill those holes?
Albert signed his franchise tender so that is one hole filled, at least for this year. There are free agents to fill the RT job, but the Chiefs are running out of cap space this offseason. They also have the first overall pick, and the general consensus around the league seems to be the two best players are both franchise-caliber left tackles: Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan). So the question facing the Chiefs is if they want to fill the hole at RT with the first overall pick. I know a lot of you hate this word, but the Chiefs could get better "value" out of it (in my opinion) by taking Star Lotulelei (who seems to be healthy) as a potentially game-changing DE who could be great against the run and blow up opposing backfields.
Let's table the OL discussion for a minute, and turn our attention to Reid and Dorsey's other desire: recouping the second round pick they sent to the 49ers. It seems right now the Chiefs would like to recoup that second round pick one of two ways: either by trading Albert or trading out of the first overall spot.
Recently, a seemingly random rumor was floated last week by ESPN's John Clayton that the Chiefs could trade Albert to the Dolphins (who just lost Jake Long) for one of their two second round picks. This accomplished two things: first, it let the NFL know they are open to trading Albert, and two, it set the asking price for him: at least a second round pick. If some team ponies up more (say a second and a sixth, or a mid-to-late first) I think Albert is gone. However, the team that trades for him has to be assured that he is going to be there long-term and sign an extension, so the late first round pick may be a pipe dream.
However, what I think Reid and Dorsey are really trying to do is drum up interest in the first overall pick. If the Chiefs trade Albert then it is a virtual lock they will take Fisher or Joeckel with the first overall pick. Reid and Dorsey want the teams at the top of the draft who need a LT (Chargers, Cardinals, Jaguars, et. al.) to think that if they want to be assured of getting one of the two best ones in this draft they need to trade alllll the way up to number one to get him.
Ultimately, I see the Albert trade rumors as a strategy to trade out of the first overall pick. You can pretty much take to the bank that Albert will not be traded until the day of the draft, if he is even traded at all. Teams can get panicky in war room, and I think Reid and Dorsey are content to sit back and take the best deal on the table. Whether that is for the first overall pick or for Albert. I think their first choice is to trade out of the number one pick and go into the season with Albert at LT, and let Schwartz and Stephenson compete for the RT job. And I think on draft day we are going to see the Chiefs trade out of the first overall pick. So everybody sit back, grab a beer (or root beer if you're under 21) and enjoy the show.