Chiefs apply franchise tag to Branden Albert

Peter Aiken

The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly applied the franchise tag to left tackle Branden Albert.

The Kansas City Chiefs applied the franchise tag to left tackle Branden Albert on Monday, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN and Jason LaCanfora of CBS.

Albert was originally drafted 15th overall by the Chiefs in the 2008 NFL Draft. The past two seasons by the offensive lineman have been some of the best of his career. Despite the woes on offense, this line has seen great individual performances.

It was no mystery that Kansas City wanted to retain Albert, but the question was would they re-sign him to a long-term deal or would they tag him?

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The determining factor of how this would play out was primarily how the franchise valued him and how they valued wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who signed a five-year deal with the Chiefs on Monday. Both Albert and Bowe are marquee players, and with the team being in a transitional period, this was a crucial decision to be made by the front office.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com previously reported that the team would extend Albert:

Rapoport also reported Thursday that in addition to Bowe, the Chiefs would like to bring back offensive tackle Branden Albert. The Chiefs have talked with his representatives and have the ability to sign both players, according to Rapoport.

This turned out to be speculation, as both sides failed to get a deal done. Instead, the Chiefs signed Bowe to the long-term deal and used the tag for Albert.

The Chiefs have until July to sign Albert to a long-term deal, but for now, they will keep him from walking away in free agency.

Now the question for the Chiefs is what to do with the top pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. The latest mock draft from SB Nation had Andy Reid's new team selecting left tackle Luke Joeckel. That could still happen as the Chiefs look for depth on the offensive line, but it does seem less likely. The recent acquisition of Alex Smith puts quarterback further down the list of needs in a year where the top picks in the draft at that position all come with big question marks.

Whatever direction the Chiefs go in the draft this April, the team has given itself some certainty along the offensive line, a hard lesson Reid learned in his later years in Philadelphia.

More in the NFL:

NFL Mock Draft: New names rising in first round

Rex Ryan: "No truth" to Darrelle Revis trade rumors

NFL's franchise tag deadline looms

NFL Draft pro days and workout schedule

The speed conspiracy: Comparing NFL and high school 40-yard dash times

The complete history of elite NFL quarterbacks

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