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Kansas City Chiefs' Branden Albert expected to hit free agency

Starting left tackle Branden Albert is scheduled to be a free agent, and the Chiefs are not expected to re-sign him before free agency begins, according to a report.

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The Kansas City Chiefs are expected to allow Branden Albert to hit free agency, according to a report from Danny Parkins of 610 Sports. Parkins reports that the Chiefs have made the internal decision to allow Albert to hit free agency, which means they are not expected to sign him before March 11, the start of free agency.

RelatedSee all the Chiefs free agents here

We have been waiting on this news. Given the investment in Eric Fisher and the overall health of the Chiefs salary cap, it wasn't very feasible to give Albert a big contract or slap the franchise tag on him again to the tune of approximately $11.8 million.

As we talked about on 610 Sports shortly after Parkins broke the news, the question is not so much about total dollars as it is the value. Is Albert at nearly $12 million a better value than Donald Stephenson at $570,000? No, he is not. Stephenson is the better value even if he's not necessarily the better player.

I would love if the Chiefs could somehow bring Albert back but I believe the best decision is to let him hit free agency. Teams that are successful (see: Seahawks) have young, cheap players at positions that are usually really expensive (see: Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson). This drives the cost down, which allows teams to spend money elsewhere.

I see two major questions we're left with as we look to the future.

Who will the Chiefs swing tackle be?

Last year, Donald Stephenson started seven games as the Chiefs backup tackle. Next year, they won't have that. So who will the new third tackle be? Chiefs fans could learn how much of a luxury it was to have three capable tackles. That doesn't happen with every team. So the Chiefs will have to either draft someone (probably a mid-round pick) or sign a veteran in free agency in order to fill the third tackle. This is a backup position but based on 2013 it is a very, very important backup position. Some funds or draft picks will need to be poured into that spot.

If this guy is potentially starting multiple games, is it that crazy to think the Chiefs could use a third round pick to lock it up?

Who will play left tackle and who will play right?

Stephenson filled in at both spots last year; Eric Fisher played on the right side. Does Stephenson now move to the right and Fisher the left? Or vice versa? That's something we'll probably learn in OTAs. I would guess that Fisher goes to the left side because I would guess the Chiefs initial long-term plan with him included moving him to left tackle after Albert left.

UPDATE: Albert tweeted a few things after this report came out.

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