Chiefs offensive left tackle Branden Albert’s long-term future in Kansas City is now uncertain.
Albert will play the 2013 season under a one-year contract for $9.8 million, and then he will be an unrestricted free agent because he and the Chiefs failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract by Monday afternoon’s deadline for franchise players to strike new deals.
Albert was not alone. Of the eight NFL players who were designated as franchise players by their teams, only one, Denver left tackle Ryan Clady, signed a new deal. Clady, a three-time Pro Bowler, agreed Sunday evening to a contract for five years that is worth up to $53 million, with $33 million guaranteed.
Albert signed a one-year tender for 2013 last spring, but now he and the Chiefs may not resume negotiations until after the regular season when Albert will be free to talk to any team. Six of the other remaining seven franchise players had signed tenders and, like Albert, are under contract for 2013, but Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd remains unsigned and is threatening a long holdout.
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Attempts to reach Albert, his representative at BTI Sports Advisors and Chiefs general manager John Dorsey on Monday were unsuccessful.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, selected offensive tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick of the draft, and he remains unsigned. While Fisher is expected to open the season as the starting right tackle, his natural position is the left side, and he could be the club’s eventual left tackle if Albert is not retained beyond 2013. The Chiefs unsuccessfully tried trading Albert to Miami before the 2013 draft.
Albert, 28, had missed just four starts in his first four seasons with the Chiefs, but he started just one of the last six games in 2012 and missed three games altogether because of a back problem. Albert insisted his back was fine during the team’s spring workouts, and coach Andy Reid was optimistic about having Albert at left tackle and Fisher at right tackle this season.
Fisher needs to be under contract before rookies report to training camp on Sunday night in St. Joseph.