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Where Will Branden Albert Go?

It’s back to the drawing board for the Kansas City Chiefs and Branden Albert. What seemed like a ticking trade-bomb with the Miami Dolphins had its fuse unceremoniously stomped to bits when the Chiefs used both their second round picks. One went to the Oakland Raiders to facilitate their selection of Dion Jordan with the third overall pick and the other was spent on Boise corner Jamar Taylor.

The writing between the lines reads Jeff Ireland’s finally figured out you can’t throw insane amounts of money at all your problems, and has given up on the pipe dream that was the acquisition of Branden Albert - for now. In the meantime, Ireland’s dipped his hand into the free agency bargain bin and signed RT Tyson Clabo to a one year contract. This move will almost certainly lead to the Fins shifting Jonathan Martin to LT.

If the Dolphins have finally come to terms with the sad reality that trying to buy a Super Bowl in the salary cap era ain't so easy, what does this mean for Albert’s future? A lot of things and nothing; all at the same time. For anyone who hasn’t followed the Albert’s saga, believe me, that’s not even half as absurd a contradiction as it seems.

For as long as Albert has been franchised, he’s made it all too clear it’s somewhat of a bone of contention. Like any sane adult should, Albert’s eventually signed his tag to the tune of $9.8M and the proverbial bandage was placed on relations between the two camps. I say bandage because nothing about this relationship has really been fixed; just patched up. It’s the one blight on what’s been an otherwise fantastic offseason for the Chiefs.

With Albert none too happy about the risk of playing under the tag and the Chiefs all too aware of the fact that they will likely lose Alberts to free agency next season, it’s still possible he could be moved before the season starts. I’m sure both sides would like to wipe their hands clean of this mess and move on. If only it were that easy.

The team that makes the most sense as a potential landing spot for Albert is the San Diego Chargers; purely from a positional needs standpoint. Positional desperation seems like a more apt way to describe it, but whatever the case, they could use Albert’s services. The problem with a deal occurring between these two sides begins with their being divisional foes and ends with the financial restraints placed upon the Chargers. I’m not sure the Chargers want to give the youthful Chiefs a second round pick and I’m willing to bet the Chiefs are even less keen on making getting to Philip Rivers all the more difficult. This doesn’t even touch on the financial hoops the Chargers would have to jump through to make this work. It’s a game of chicken with both sides ready to tilt the steering wheel.

A team that hasn’t been getting much press in this ongoing soap opera, but maybe should be, is the Arizona Cardinals. Unlike the Chargers, they don’t play in the same division as Kansas City - hell, not even the same conference. With that roadblock out of the way, there aren’t many left. The Cardinals will be no better off with Carson Palmer than they were with Kevin Kolb if they can’t protect him and their offensive line does little to inspire much hope they can. Even with the addition of Jonathan Cooper, that offensive line is a work in progress. Whether they move Levi Brown or Albert to the right side, the Cards will be much better equipped to protect Palmer and maybe even create a running game. Lord knows the Cards could use one.

The least likely and least sensical of all the potential locations, of course, is Miami. No, this trade and sign wouldn’t make any sense. No, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination a move they have to make. Don’t think that will stop Jeff Ireland though. Didn’t stop him from signing Brandon Gibson. For reasons beyond me, the Dolphins are still sort of in on the Albert sweepstakes. Just hope for the Fins and their fanbase the Chiefs don’t take advantage of it.

Sadly though, the most likely scenario is I’ve one less column to write, as Albert plays out what is all but guaranteed to be his final season as a Chief. The first wave of free agency’s passed and gone with it is the necessity (and more importantly, cap space) for many squads to upgrade at tackle. The draft didn’t help matters for the Chiefs either in this regard. It’s a two-horse race for Albert, just not one with a concrete ending. If you’re a Chiefs fan, take some solace in knowing your new quarterback Alex Smith will have time, and lots of it. That extra second rounder next year, probably not.

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV


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