Free-agent report: OT Branden Albert

The Kansas City Chiefs’ long-time left tackle is next on our list of potential free agents.

OT Branden Albert

Six NFL seasons, six with the Chiefs. Will be 29 when next season begins.

Chiefs career: After a rough beginning, Albert has bloomed into a solid left tackle. He was a guard in college at Virginia but the Chiefs drafted him in the first round in 2008 anyway and it took Albert a few seasons before he truly appeared comfortable at his new position. He settled in nicely the past three seasons. He can now be trusted to handle the game’s better pass-rushers on a consistent basis. Albert is a better pass protector than run-blocker but that’s OK for a left tackle. He missed five starts in 2012 because of back spasms and four in 2013 because of a hyperextended knee.

Argument for keeping Albert: He’s one of the best players in the NFL at an important position. The Chiefs need to be adding and not subtracting good players from their offense. They are taking a chance with Eric Fisher, whose NFL career started much like Albert’s, at left tackle. Fisher may eventually develop into Albert’s equal or better but there’s no guarantee that will happen.

Argument for letting Albert go: He’s going to be expensive and the Chiefs may have trouble reaching agreement on a long-term contract with Albert. The sides were nowhere close to an agreement on a new deal last season and Albert stayed in Kansas City only as the franchise player. Making Albert the franchise player again would cost the Chiefs more than $11 million and they have more pressing things to do with that money. As for a long-term agreement, Albert has more value to other teams than the Chiefs because they have Fisher. He would be smart to realize that and get ready to hit the market. The Chiefs drafted Fisher last season with this eventuality in mind and though he didn’t often play well as a rookie, he should still become the player the Chiefs envisioned last year when they drafted him.

What should happen: It’s time for both sides to move on. The Chiefs have Fisher and Donald Stephenson at tackle and while neither is yet as polished a player as Albert, they should be good enough next season to help the Chiefs win some games. Albert was unhappy last year at being named the franchise player. He wants a lucrative, long-term contract and this is the time of his career when he could get it. He’ll need to move on to make it happen.