Chiefs' 2014 free-agent decisions further validated by compensatory picks

Shortly after the end of the season, I looked back at the Kansas City Chiefs decisions from last year to let many of their free agents sign with other teams. The Chiefs lost, among other players, offensive linemen Branden Albert (pictured), Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, slot receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, defensive lineman Tyson Jackson, and defensive backs Quintin Demps and Kendrick Lewis.

Though the Chiefs could have used the stability that just one of those offensive linemen could have provided, I thought the Chiefs were making the right decision in almost every case. The reality even before the NFL awarded compensatory picks was those players were of more value to their new teams than they were to the Chiefs. The Chiefs were smart not to mindlessly chase them at other teams’ prices.

Monday saw the Chiefs claim four draft picks this year to compensate for those losses. The Chiefs will get an extra choice in the third round, two additional picks in the fifth, and one more in the sixth.

That gives the Chiefs 10 total picks. They already had their own pick in each of the seven rounds except the fifth.

This further validates the Chiefs’ free-agent decisions from last year. It makes those choices in retrospect no-brainers.

The best player of last year’s bunch is Albert and the Chiefs, directly or indirectly, received that extra third-round pick for losing him. Let’s look at just his case.

All things being equal, Albert is worth more than a third-round pick. He’s one of the NFL’s best left tackles.

But there are factors involved that make Albert very much worth a third-round pick to the Chiefs. The first is they have Eric Fisher, the first player picked in the 2013 draft. Fisher hasn’t approached Albert’s level as a player and if he never does, the mistake made here by the Chiefs is in drafting Fisher and not in letting Albert go.

Another is Albert’s contract. He received a five-year contract from the Miami Dolphins worth $47 million, with $26 million guaranteed. Good players are worth paying, but the Chiefs at some point have to make decisions about which ones to keep and which ones to let walk.

The last is injuries. Through no apparent fault of his own, Albert has become an unreliable player. He missed five starts in 2012 because of back spasms, four starts in 2013 because of a knee injury, and seven games for Miami last season because of another knee injury. So he’s missed in total one season’s worth of games over the past three.

Maybe Albert is brittle. Maybe he’s just extremely unlucky. But there was no luck involved when the Chiefs let him go.

That was just smart.