KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We're looking today at the offensive line, where it might be time for the Kansas City Chiefs to part with one of their better players.
Roster (14): Branden Albert, Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah, Chandler Burden, R.J. Dill, Eric Fisher, Ricky Henry, Rodney Hudson, Rishaw Johnson, Colin Kelly, Eric Kush, Geoff Schwartz, Donald Stephenson, Rokevious Watkins.
Potential 2014 free agents: Albert, Asamoah, Schwartz.
The position: Some decisions await the Chiefs here, none bigger than what to do about Albert, their long-time starting left tackle. The sides were never close on a long-term deal last year, when Albert also was headed toward free agency, and the Chefs eventually kept him as their franchise player at a cost of almost $10 million. The decision at the time made sense. The Chiefs hadn't yet drafted another tackle, Fisher, with the number one overall pick. The franchise player option exists for Albert again. But the Chiefs have Fisher now and though his rookie season wasn't particularly productive, he should return as a much-improved player after a year in Kansas City's strength program. Fisher could move to Albert's spot at left tackle and Stephenson, who the Chiefs have viewed as a starter-quality player, can step in at right tackle. That's the Chiefs' best plan for this situation.
The money they would save on Albert's contract could go a long way toward solving problems elsewhere on the roster. Albert is a solid player and this year he's participating in the Pro Bowl for the first time. In a perfect world, the Chiefs would keep him as their left tackle but in the real world it's time for them to move on from Albert, who missed five starts in 2012 and four games this season because of injuries. Asamoah and Schwartz, the Chiefs' two best guards, both are eligible for free agency. The Chiefs need to sign at least one of them. Asamoah began the season as the starter at right guard but Schwartz replaced him midway through the season and played so well he retained the spot even after Asamoah returned. Hudson is the starting center and Allen the starting left guard and they are under contract for next season.
The Chiefs should keep: Allen, Asamoah, Fisher, Hudson, Kush, Schwartz, Stephenson and Watkins. It might be difficult for the Chiefs to re-sign Asamoah and Schwartz. Both could want starter's money. If so, Asamoah should be the priority. At 25, he is two years younger than Schwartz. Kush and Watkins have shown enough to at least keep around and compete for backup positions.
The Chiefs should dump: Albert, Burden, Dill, Henry, Johnson and Kelly.
Free agency/draft priority: The Chiefs invested heavily in these positions in recent years. Since 2010, they picked Allen, Asamoah, Fisher, Hudson and Stephenson in the top three rounds. Particularly after drafting Fisher with the top pick last year, there's no reason to invest a high pick this season. If the Chiefs retain at least two among Albert, Asamoah and Schwartz, there's also no reason to spend in free agency.