Wielding the franchise tag as leverage, the Kansas City Chiefs danced a high-wire act Monday afternoon.
Faced with the possibility of losing one of two premier free agents, the front office of Andy Reid and John Dorsey saved the franchise tag for left tackle Branden Albert, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported.
Albert sounded upbeat about the Chiefs' moves, telling The Kansas City Star's Adam Teicher that the team has "locked up three players that are going to help them win." Still, Teicher stressed that Albert wasn't thrilled about getting tagged.
Although Albert has battled inconsistency as well as a late-season back injury, his pass-blocking chops are among the best in the league. According to Pro Football Focus' metrics, Albert has allowed fewer sacks and fewer combined quarterback hits and hurries than both Ryan Clady and Jake Long over the past two seasons.
Assigning the franchise tag to Albert affords the Chiefs flexibility in several areas.
The move allows Albert, a college guard, to kick inside if the club opts for a left tackle with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Of course, that would run counter to Albert's demonstrated strengths as a player.
By keeping both Albert and Bowe while adding Alex Smith at quarterback, the Chiefs now have the luxury not only of selecting the best player available, but also of convincing teams just below them in the draft order that they will have to trade up to grab their most coveted prospect.
If a tackle is drafted with the first-round pick, the Chiefs will have options with Albert in negotiations. Should he balk at signing the franchise tender, which carries a one-year contract number of $9,828,000, or a long-term contract, the offer can be rescinded without paying a dime.@ChrisWesseling.