NFL teams can start negotiating with their impending free agents on February 17th and will have until March 3rd to designate one of their players with the franchise tag.
If the March 3rd deadline comes and goes without an official franchise tag designation, players will hit the open market on March 11th.
With that in mind, it’s time to start thinking about what the Chiefs will do with their franchise tag this year.
Last offseason, the Chiefs used their franchise tag on offensive tackle Branden Albert, and he is probably the only player worthy of that designation this year, even with the 120 percent raise a player receives for being tagged in consecutive seasons.
But, does Albert deserve to be paid the $11+ million that franchising him would entail?
Let’s take a closer look at the Chiefs options.
If the Chiefs did franchise Albert, that would immediately put them about $7 million over the salary cap and the team would have to start cutting other players. Would you rather keep Albert, but lose Eric Berry, Dwayne Bowe, Eric Berry, or Tamba Hali? The Chiefs would most likely have to cut one of those big-name players, as well as a few lesser players, in order to get under the cap.
Sign Albert to a Club Friendly Deal
Sounds easy, make a reasonable offer to Albert and hopefully he accepts. But why would he? Albert could turn down the Chiefs offer and hit the free agent market, where he would likely be the most sought after offensive lineman this year, and have his choice of teams to sign with.
Don’t Tag Albert
If the Chiefs do not use the franchise tag on Albert, and are not able to sign him to a new club-friendly deal, then Albert could sign with another team, and the Chiefs only compensation for him would be a compensatory pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. That’s not much for losing a player of Albert’s quality.
Tag Albert, Then Trade Him
The only logic to me in franchising Albert is to try and trade him. Last season the Chiefs were rumored to have had talks with the Miami Dolphins about making a trade for Albert, but nothing ever came of it. This year there could be a few more teams interested in acquiring Albert, the Arizona Cardinals are reportedly interested in signing him, but would any team be willing to take on that large of a contract?
So the Chiefs find themselves with a very difficult choice to make this offseason. I do not like the odds of the Chiefs being able to sign him to a new deal, or of being able to work out a trade for him. I see one of two things happening, either the Chiefs will franchise Albert and be forced to part ways with other players to afford his salary, or they will let him hit the free agent market and get next to nothing in return for him.