The Kansas City Chiefs have until 3:00 p.m. Monday to name their franchise player for the 2013 season and the speculation is that if they do name one, it will be wide receiver Dwayne Bowe over offensive lineman, Brandon Albert. However, naming either player as a franchise player carries a little bit of risk for the team.
Bowe was the Chiefs’ franchise player in 2012 when the team couldn’t reach a long-term contract agreement with him. Wanting to be paid like one of the elite wide receivers in the league, he held out for all of the off-season and most of training camp. Although he eventually did report, his numbers dipped dramatically last season, as did the rest of the offensive players not named Jamaal Charles.
Naming Bowe the franchise player again this year would cost the team a one-year contract worth $11.4 million, which isn’t terrible by league standards, but there is no way of knowing if Bowe will hold out again. On top of that, Bowe isn’t known as the hardest-working player in the world and if he gets ticked off by being the franchise player again, the team might be tossing $11 million out the window.
Albert has proven to be a solid, if unspectacular, left tackle whom most observers place among the top 11 or 12 tackles in the league. He was a warrior in 2012 for KC playing with a heavy heart to begin the season after his mother passed away during training camp, and then playing the season with a painful back injury that finally forced him out of the lineup as the season progressed.
Making Albert the franchise player will cost the Chiefs about $9.8 million on a one-year contract.
He is a good player and one of the team leaders, but the back injury and the fact that Albert wants top money might make it hard for the Chiefs to bring him back. To further complicate matters, two of the top players in this year’s draft are left tackles, Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan. The Chiefs could take either one as a less expensive replacement for Albert, despite the fact that the team would undoubtedly love to have the veteran on the roster for 2013.
The Chiefs can do one of three things. They can slap an exclusive rights franchise tag on a player, meaning no other team would be allowed to negotiate with him. They also can designate the player with a non-exclusive tag that will still pay the player via a league formula, but allows the player to negotiate with any other team. If another team signs the non-exclusive player, they must give up two first-round draft picks. The guess here is that neither Bowe, Albert, nor any other Chiefs free agent to be would get any interest from another team at that price.
The third option that could happen is that the Chiefs could just bypass naming a franchise player and continue to negotiate with all the players, including free agents from other teams. The official beginning of free agency for most players starts March 12 and the Chiefs figure to be big players in free agency this year with several holes they need to fill.
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