NFL Nation: Eric Fisher

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- To many around the Green Bay Packers locker room, rookie outside linebacker Jayrone Elliott was known not by his name, which, by the way is pronounced JAY-rone.

"Usually you walk around, and they'd be like, "What's up 91?' or something like that," Elliott said, referring to his jersey number.

That was before Saturday in St. Louis.

[+] EnlargeGreen Bay's Jayrone Elliott
AP Photo/Tom GannamJayrone Elliott had three sacks during the Packers' exhibition against the Rams.
In a span of four snaps in the fourth quarter, Elliott sacked Rams third-string quarterback Austin Davis three times, the third of which caused a fumble. It will go down as perhaps the most productive short stint in recent Packers' preseason history.

For the entire preseason so far, the undrafted free agent from the University of Toledo has played just 14 game snaps, yet is the only NFL player with three sacks. That's three more that Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have combined.

"Then they started calling me by name and calling me 'Sackmaster,'" Elliott said. "So it's just fun to joke around with Clay and Pep, because you know Peppers never really talks to anybody, so it's fun to hear him talk."

Not only did Matthews talk to Elliott, he talked about him on Monday.

"I heard he's starting this weekend in front of me," Matthews joked.

That won't happen this week, when the Packers likely will play their defensive starters for at least the first half of Friday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. But it could happen in the preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 28, when general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy will get their last chance to look at the rookies.

"He's just a young man that's really taken advantage of pretty much every opportunity he’s been given," McCarthy said. "I was excited to see him have success."

If Elliott was unknown to most in the locker room, that wasn't the case in Thompson's office. His scouts identified Elliott as a prospect coming out of the Mid-American Conference and brought him in for a pre-draft visit.

Green Bay was the only NFL visit Elliott had before the draft. He said he connected with linebackers coach Winston Moss and two members of the Packers' personnel department, Danny Mock and Chad Brinker, during his visit and even though a few other teams called him after the draft, including the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints, he chose the Packers' offer, which included just a $5,000 signing bonus.

At Toledo, the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Elliott played defensive end for three years in a 4-3 scheme. Before his final year, the Rockets switched to a 3-4. In that scheme, Elliott played outside linebacker in the base scheme but moved inside on third downs.

The next step for Elliott is to show he can beat someone other than Rams backup left tackle Sean Hooey, who gave up five sacks on Saturday.

Despite playing in the MAC, Elliott has rushed against NFL-caliber tackles. As a junior, he said he beat Central Michigan's Eric Fisher for a couple of pressures in one game. Fisher went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

On Monday, Elliott stood in the auxiliary locker room at Lambeau Field, where the undrafted rookies and practice-squad players change, and appeared to be taking his sudden success in stride. He said he received dozens of messages after Saturday's game, including some from family members who he said were "going crazy thinking I'm freakin' Clay Matthews."

Matthews, he isn't. But at least the Packers' All-Pro linebacker now knows Elliott's name.
The Kansas City Chiefs continue to look for encouraging signs from left tackle Eric Fisher, and they continue to be disappointed. Fisher had another difficult game in Sunday night's preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Fisher
Alex Smith took more physical punishment than the Chiefs would like their starting quarterback to absorb, but it wasn't all Fisher's fault. Still, he had a hand in it, and Fisher is now 0-for-2 when it comes to playing well in the preseason.

Fisher's transformation into a solid left tackle evidently will take some time, if it ever happens. That said, the Chiefs have little choice but to work with the No. 1 overall pick from the 2013 draft and hope for the best.

The Chiefs have too much invested in Fisher to give up on him. They did the smart thing last season by letting him play right tackle as a rookie while Branden Albert played out his contract on the left side.

Moving Fisher to the left side was inevitable. The Chiefs might feel better about that move had Fisher earned the promotion with his play as a rookie, but that didn't happen. They couldn't afford Albert, not with big contracts due to players like Jamaal Charles, Smith and Justin Houston.

And even if the Chiefs wanted to replace Fisher, their options are limited. They're having trouble identifying a third tackle on their roster, much less one they're comfortable with in the starting lineup. High-quality tackles aren't available through free agency or trade this time of year. They could have him and right tackle Donald Stephenson switch positions, but things haven't reached that point yet.

The Chiefs need to make Fisher into the player they believed they were getting when they drafted him. They simply are going through some tough growing pains with Fisher, and they have little choice but to suffer through them.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some quick observations on the Kansas City Chiefs' first full-squad offseason practice:
  • The Chiefs went with veteran Frank Zombo instead of rookie Dee Ford in place of the absent Justin Houston as one of the starters at outside linebacker. Zombo started five games in place of the injured Houston last season and had two sacks and one interception. Marcus Cooper, the Chiefs' rookie of the year last season, started in place of Brandon Flowers at one of the cornerback spots. Houston and Flowers were missing from practice, which is voluntary. The only period during the offseason program with mandatory participation is the minicamp June 17-19.
  • The other new starters on defense were Allen Bailey (for the departed Tyson Jackson) at end, Joe Mays (for the departed Akeem Jordan) at linebacker and Husain Abdullah (for the departed Kendrick Lewis) at free safety.
  • Left tackle Eric Fisher didn't participate in the team portion of practice and tight end Travis Kelce didn't participate at all. Fisher had offseason surgeries to repair a balky shoulder and for a sports hernia and participated in individual drills. Right tackle Donald Stephenson moved into Fisher's spot with Jeff Linkenbach starting in Stephenson's usual place. Kelce, who missed all of his rookie season because of a knee ailment, is not a starter but the Chiefs are hopeful he can play a lot and be a productive receiver .
  • Sanders Commings is for now at least Abdullah's backup. But he showed free safety skills when he covered a lot of ground to intercept a Tyler Bray pass along the sideline.

Chiefs offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Kansas City Chiefs' offseason moves.

Best move: It wasn't a popular move for the Chiefs to allow five of last season's regulars to depart in the opening moments of free agency and another a few days later, but the Chiefs did the right thing in each case. The players are more valuable to their new teams, and Kansas City would have had to overpay to keep them. The Chiefs had also built enough depth to withstand the losses.

[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/John BazemoreAaron Murray's selection by the Chiefs is surprising, but Andy Reid has been known to develop QBs.
Riskiest move: The Chiefs failed to add a proven wide receiver, a decision they could easily come to regret later. They had one of the NFL's least productive groups of wide receivers last season and then lost slot receiver Dexter McCluster to free agency. They have hopes for improvement from young A.J. Jenkins and acquired CFL veteran Weston Dressler and speedy rookie De'Anthony Thomas, but their needs would have been better served by adding a player with proven production.

Most surprising move: The drafting of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was a reasonable gamble because it happened in the fifth round, but the Chiefs looked to be set at the position without him. They have their starter in Alex Smith, a veteran backup in Chase Daniel and a developmental prospect in Tyler Bray. But Murray appears to have the skills to succeed in the offense of coach Andy Reid, who has shown a nice touch in developing quarterbacks. The addition of Murray sets up an interesting training camp battle at the position.

Progress from young players: It's clear the Chiefs are counting on improvement from a group that includes three of last season's draft picks. Foremost is tackle Eric Fisher, who moves to the left side after a rocky rookie season on the right. Tight end Travis Kelce missed all of last season with a knee ailment after showing impressive receiving skills in the offseason and training camp. Sanders Commings also missed most of his rookie season with an injury but could wind up starting at free safety.
The notion of building a team though the NFL draft and using free agency as a mere supplemental tool is a proven one. The NFL teams that have been successful over long periods during the free-agency era have generally used this method.

But it puts a lot of pressure on a team to get things right each year through the draft. It doesn’t have to get one or more eventual Pro Bowlers every year, but the teams that do in this way certainly can't afford to whiff in the draft, any draft.

Judging from their words and this year's actions, the Kansas City Chiefs plan on being one of those teams. That’s fine, but they had better use their six draft picks to maximum an advantage.

ESPN.com’s Jeffri Chadiha takes it a step further in his latest column, suggesting no NFL team needs to get it right in this year’s draft more than the Chiefs. Chadiha writes that if the Chiefs don’t find more difference-makers, they’re primed to slide backward next season after winning 11 games and making the playoffs last year.

It's impossible to argue with that. Given the way the Chiefs wobbled the last half of last season, it was obvious they would need an upgrade at some key spots for this year. Not only has that yet to happen, but the Chiefs have watched as many of their competitors, including division rivals Denver and Oakland, loaded up.

But with just six picks and only one in the top 86, immediate expectations for this year’s draft should be minimal. Because of that, last year’s draft is more important to 2014 success for the Chiefs than this year’s crop of rookies.

As Chadiha noted, last year’s draft picks were disappointing as a group. The Chiefs' rookie of the year was Marcus Cooper, a cornerback they pulled off waivers at the beginning of the regular season, and not one of their own eight selections.

For the Chiefs to go anywhere in 2014, their 2013 rookies have to get better. Tackle Eric Fisher needs to play a lot more like the first overall pick in the draft. What running back Knile Davis gave them late last season, he needs to give all season. Tight end Travis Kelce and defensive back Sanders Commings have to overcome the injuries that ruined their rookie seasons and be the players the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted them.

If this happens, then the 2014 Chiefs can prosper without much immediate help from their rookies. If not, it might not matter how the Chiefs fare in this year’s draft.
After months of research, the Kansas City Chiefs determined around this time last year they would make an offensive tackle, Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, the first pick in the NFL draft. While the Chiefs smiled and seemed pleased with their choice, there was also the understanding they were making the best of a less than ideal situation.

Fisher
The Chiefs had the first pick in the NFL draft for the first time ever and were faced with a largely unappetizing array of choices. The 2013 draft contained no can’t-miss quarterbacks or other franchise-rescuing players at other high-profile positions like outside linebacker, wide receiver or cornerback.

So the Chiefs went with Fisher, who projected to be a solid player but still seemed like a consolation prize.

Just how much of a consolation prize he was comes into better view by looking at what was available in the drafts immediately before and after. If the Chiefs had the first pick in the 2012 draft, they would now be quarterbacked by Andrew Luck.

If they had the top choice this year they could choose from a bounty that includes a player with uncommon pass-rush skills (South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney) or a can’t-miss wide receiver (Clemson’s Sammy Watkins), among others.

They could also have had any of three offensive tackles that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said this week he would have rated ahead of Fisher if Fisher was available in this draft. Those tackles are Greg Robinson of Auburn, Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan.

“It’s a completely different year than last year,’’ Kiper said. “He would have been the fourth offensive tackle taken, probably somewhere between eight and 15 (overall).’’

So it’s the luck of the Chiefs that they were stuck with the draft’s top pick in a down year. Fisher’s rookie season was a rocky one, but there is reason to believe he won't become the player the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted him.

He is a very good player. But not the kind of franchise savior they could have picked had they drafted No. 1 in 2012 or 2014.
For those with ESPN Insider access, a team of ESPN’s personnel analysts (including former Colts general manager Bill Polian) have graded free agency for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Kansas City Chiefs ranked 16th for the things they have and haven’t done in free agency Insider, and received a C+.

Sanders
One analyst, Matt Williamson, a former scout with the Cleveland Browns, thought the Chiefs took too big a hit on their offensive line by letting starters Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz walk away in free agency. He will be proved right if Eric Fisher, appointed as Albert’s successor by coach Andy Reid, can’t adequately handle the starting left tackle spot, and the Chiefs don’t capably fill the vacant starting position at right guard.

The other analysts praised the Chiefs for their restraint in not overpaying for any of the five departing free agents. They suggested what I had written earlier, that losing Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the Denver Broncos was their biggest failure of free agency.

“Sanders would have been a perfect complement to Dwayne Bowe," wrote Louis Riddick, a former personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Chiefs’ success in free agency was ranked in the middle of the league, they were second among teams from the AFC West. The other three teams were at or near one end of the spectrum or the other.

The Denver Broncos were rated fourth with a B+. The San Diego Chargers were 26th with a C, and the Oakland Raiders were 32nd and last with an F.
After spending his rookie season as a right tackle, Eric Fisher will head over to the left side in 2014, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed at the NFL meetings Tuesday in Orlando, Fla.

Fisher
The move is not a surprise. The Chiefs drafted Fisher last year from Central Michigan with the first overall pick with the idea he would eventually be their left tackle.

But Fisher began his NFL career on the right side. The Chiefs had veteran Branden Albert to play left tackle last season. But Albert signed with the Miami Dolphins this month as a free agent, leaving the spot open to either Fisher or Donald Stephenson. Stephenson started four games at left tackle last season while Albert was out of the lineup with a knee injury.

The Chiefs opted to move Fisher to left tackle. Stephenson will be the starter in Fisher's former spot at right tackle.

Fisher didn't play well as a rookie. He missed three starts with various injuries and didn't play in the playoff loss to Indianapolis because of a groin injury.

Fisher struggled early in the season to the point the Chiefs probably should have benched him. His play generally improved as the season progressed. He showed tremendous athletic ability but he never played to the level expected from the first overall pick.

Still, it's far too early to call Fisher a bust and, in fact, it's reasonable to believe Fisher can eventually play as well as Albert did last season. Fisher came to the Chiefs lacking the necessary upper body strength to be a polished player. An offseason in Kansas City's weight program should help him develop into a productive player.

There could be rough moments for the Chiefs until Fisher fully develops. In the short term, the better move might have been to play Stephenson at left tackle, at least early in the season. But Reid and his coaching staff obviously believe the time is right to make move.
Branden AlbertPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Dolphins bolstered their O-line by agreeing to a five-year, $46 million deal with Brandon Albert.
NFL free agency kicked off with a bang Tuesday, and Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert was one of the biggest names to switch teams. Albert signed a five-year, $46 million contract with Miami Dolphins. He spent the previous five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.

One team’s loss is another team’s gain in free agency. ESPN.com’s Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Dolphins reporter James Walker weigh in on both sides of the Albert signing.

James Walker: Adam, the Dolphins are ecstatic to land a player of Albert’s caliber. Pro Bowl left tackles do not grow on trees, and Albert was the highest-rated player at that position on the market. Albert also filled Miami’s biggest need on the offensive line, which was torn apart last season with the bullying controversy. The price tag wasn’t cheap. But the Dolphins feel it was worth the investment, especially after watching their quarterback get sacked a team-record 58 times last season. Albert will protect Ryan Tannehill’s blindside. Adam, how are the Chiefs dealing with the loss of Albert?

Adam Teicher: It’s a loss for the Chiefs for the short term without a doubt. Eventually, the Chiefs should be able to handle his departure. The Chiefs and Albert were so far apart on a long-term contract last year that they knew it was never going to happen. So they began preparing for this day last year by selecting a tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. Fisher started as a rookie at right tackle but didn’t play well. He was a huge disappointment, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t eventually become the player the Chiefs envision. He needs a year in Kansas City’s weight program. That alone should make him better.

The Chiefs and Dolphins talked about a trade involving Albert last year. How disappointed was Miami they couldn’t acquire Albert then?

Walker: The Dolphins liked Albert last year, but the person calling the shots this year is different. Miami fired former general manager Jeff Ireland and hired new GM Dennis Hickey in January. Ireland liked to acquire picks as opposed to trading them away. So it wasn’t a shock when talks with Kansas City failed. It turned out to be a mistake as Miami’s offensive line was atrocious, which played a factor in Ireland losing his job. Hickey doesn’t want to make the same mistake. It appears he values the perks of a good offensive line and is making it a priority by putting money into Albert.

Adam, the Chiefs’ offensive line appears to be in transition with losses of Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. How will they recover?

Teicher: They’ve tried to prepare for this. Over the last four drafts, the Chiefs have used five picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen. Four of them will start next season. They have three developmental linemen and the Chiefs could slide one of them into a starting spot in the middle of the line. Their depth will definitely take a hit, particularly at tackle. They’ll have to find some backups and perhaps even a starter through free agency or the draft.

With regard to the offensive line, is anything left for the Dolphins to do or are they set?

Walker: The Dolphins are far from set, Adam. Unlike Kansas City, Miami has not invested much in the offensive line in the past year. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only starting offensive lineman expected to return. Last year’s starting guards -- Richie Incognito and John Jerry -- will not return due to their involvement in Miami’s high-profile bullying scandal. Offensive tackles Tyson Clabo and Bryant McKinnie are both unrestricted free agents who are long in the tooth. Pouncey and Albert are a solid foundation. But the Dolphins still need two starting guards and a right tackle to play alongside their two Pro Bowlers.

Moving day for many Chiefs?

March, 11, 2014
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The free-agent signing period begins Tuesday, and as of now the Chiefs have yet to re-sign any of their significant free agents. The parade appears to be lining up at the exit door. Left tackle Branden Albert is at the front, as he reportedly has already agreed on a contract with the Miami Dolphins. Receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, offensive linemen Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Akeem Jordan could be right behind him.

The Chiefs have attempted to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, and that could still happen. But the Chiefs didn't appear confident in that happening. They had arranged a free-agent meeting with defensive end Red Bryant before he signed last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Free safety Kendrick Lewis has been a longtime starter and is also a potential unrestricted free agent. But the Chiefs may be ready to move on from him.

The Chiefs have some money to spend in free agency and draft picks to use on potential replacements. In some cases they've already prepared for the eventuality of losing some of these free agents. They drafted tackle Eric Fisher in the first round last year knowing this day with Albert would probably come this year. They signed Weston Dressler of the Canadian Football League hoping he could be the next McCluster. Last year they drafted linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings, and they are possible replacements for Jordan and Lewis.

That doesn't mean this isn't an meaningful day for the Chiefs. With the exception of Jordan and Schwartz, who were signed to one-year, free-agent contracts last year, these players didn't join the Chiefs as stopgap players but as those they could build around. Albert and Jackson are former first-round draft picks. McCluster was drafted in the second round, Asamoah in the third, Lewis in the fifth.

More importantly, many should be heading into their prime seasons. Albert will turn 30 in November but plays a position where he could retain his skills for the life of the new contract he will sign. Jackson is 27; McCluster, Asamoah and Lewis are 25.

If they're all out the door at a single time, that's a hefty blow to the Chiefs. They made plenty of progress in the past year, going from two wins in 2012 to 11 victories and the playoffs in 2013. Continuing on that track will be difficult enough but perhaps impossible if they lose this entire group of players.

If the Chiefs fall back to the pack in 2014, they may look back on this day as a big reason why.

Some options for the Chiefs' OL

March, 10, 2014
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The NFL’s free-agent signing period begins Tuesday. Though teams have been able to talk with the representatives of prospective free agents since Saturday, no contracts can be signed until Tuesday.

Once that moment arrives, it shouldn’t take long for the Kansas City Chiefs to lose their left tackle of their last six seasons, Branden Albert. He reportedly will sign with the Miami Dolphins shortly after the signing period begins.

The Chiefs have two other free agent offensive linemen who could strike a deal with another club. Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah shared the starting right guard spot last season and one or both could depart as well. Though Albert is a Pro Bowler and plays a premium position, it would hurt the Chiefs more to lose Schwartz and Asamoah than Albert. The Chiefs began preparing for the eventuality they would lose Albert from the day they drafted Eric Fisher with the first overall choice last year. The Chiefs have Fisher and Donald Stephenson to play tackle and they believe both will soon develop into high-quality players.

The Chiefs don’t have that kind of depth in the middle of their line. In center Rodney Hudson and left guard Jeff Allen they have two young players in the same category as Fisher and Stephenson. But the rest of their offensive linemen are in the developmental category.

If the Chiefs lose Schwartz or Asamoah or both, they could turn to the draft to replace them. The Chiefs have the 23rd pick, but that’s their only selection among the top 86. They traded their second-round pick to San Francisco in last year’s deal that brought quarterback Alex Smith. One of the best guards is Stanford’s David Yankey. The Chiefs could plug him in as their right guard from the start. One problem with using a rookie there is that the Chiefs already have a young offensive line. If the Chiefs lose Albert, Asamoah and Schwartz, Stephenson becomes the oldest of their linemen and he doesn’t turn 26 until September. Hudson, with three years of experience, is the eldest of the group in that regard.

Free agency is another option for the Chiefs. The problem there is that, according to Pro Football Focus, Schwartz and Asamoah are the best available free-agent guards. PFF has them rated 1 and 2, so the Chiefs would be taking a step or two backward no matter whom they sign, in theory at least.

The Chiefs could also promote into the starting lineup one of the developmental linemen on their roster. They have three: Eric Kush, Rishaw Johnson and Rokevious Watkins. The Chiefs got a peek at all three when they started the final regular-season game last year in San Diego. Each had a negative grade in the game, according to PFF’s system. Watkins particularly struggled with his pass blocking and Kush his run blocking. Johnson distinguished himself in neither area.

One of them could wind up in the Chiefs’ starting lineup next season. Those chances increase if the Chiefs fail to re-sign either Asamoah or Schwartz.
On to this week's questions:
 
General manager John Dorsey denied Friday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis that the Kansas City Chiefs have determined they will not re-sign left tackle Branden Albert, as recently reported by a Kansas City radio station.

Albert
Albert
Fisher
"That’s the first I’ve heard about it," Dorsey said. "We have ongoing conversations with all of our unrestricted free agents. It just so happens we’ve had conversations with Brandon’s representatives, and that’s the beauty of the combine. Those guys are here. We will continue to have conversations with those representatives as the combine passes."

Tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's NFL draft and a starter as a rookie opposite Albert, is widely expected to replace Albert as the Chiefs' left tackle in 2014. Said Dorsey of Fisher: “Right now, he’s our right tackle."

That said, don't look for Albert to return to the Chiefs next season. The Chiefs and Albert were nowhere close to an agreement on a long-term contract last year, and that prospect appears unlikely this year unless one side has a dramatic change of position.

The Chiefs retained Albert as their franchise player last year, and that option exists again this year. But Dorsey indicated it was unlikely the Chiefs would have a franchise player in 2014.

Fisher had an uneven rookie season. He looked lost to begin the year, but finished a bit better. A year in the Chiefs' weight program should help Fisher improve immensely. At any rate, as Dorsey continued to talk about Fisher, he sure didn't sound like he was speaking about a player who will continue to play right tackle.

“The one thing I’m proud about Eric is that he made great strides as the season went along," Dorsey said. "You could see a great degree of comfort with him in the second half of the season.

"I’ve always said that between the first and second year, that’s when those guys make their greatest strides. I expect great things from Eric in his second year."

Franchise/transition tags: Chiefs

February, 17, 2014
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It makes no sense for the Kansas City Chiefs to use the franchise or transition tag on any of their prospective free agents this year. None of those players could be considered essential for the Chiefs next season or beyond. The Chiefs will also be tight to the salary cap and would find it difficult to take on another bloated, one-year salary.

The only potential free agent worthy of the franchise tag is veteran left tackle Branden Albert. He played in 2013 as the franchise player at a one-year salary of almost $10 million, but the Chiefs drafted another tackle, Eric Fisher, with the No. 1 overall pick last year. Fisher started as the right tackle last season and could move over to the left side to replace Albert in 2014. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have in backup Donald Stephenson a player they believe to be good enough to be a starter.

The estimated one-year cost for the Chiefs to retain Albert in 2014 is more than $11 million. Albert, who is a good player, made the Pro Bowl last season for the first time in his six-year NFL career.

But he missed five starts in 2012 because of back spasms and four games in 2013 because of a hyperextended knee. He has played in all 16 games for the Chiefs just once, so his durability is a question.

Fisher wasn’t anyone’s idea of a Pro Bowl tackle last season. He struggled as a rookie on a few occasions to the point he probably deserved to be benched. But the Chiefs believe Fisher has Pro Bowl potential. Another year in their weight program should help him progress as a player next season.

Likewise, Stephenson will never be a Pro Bowler, but he is an adequate player who will cost the Chiefs a little more than $750,000 against their cap next season. There’s isn’t more than $10 million worth of difference between Albert and Stephenson.
Kansas City radio station 610 KCSP is reporting the Kansas City Chiefs will let left tackle Branden Albert, their franchise player in 2013, become an unrestricted free agent as opposed to signing him to a long-term contract.

Albert
Albert
That wouldn't be a surprising move. We've already told this is going to be a different type of offseason for the Chiefs. For a change, they won't have much wiggle room under the salary cap and have possible replacements lined up and already on their roster for four of their main free agents: Albert, wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and free safety Kendrick Lewis.

In a recent interview with KCSP, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt wasn't speaking specifically about these players, but alluded to some roster upheaval.

"In the NFL today, it's constantly a building process," Hunt said. "You can count on over 20 percent of your roster turning over in any year. That's just life in the National Football League. We'll be looking to get better. Part of that will be through free agency and a big part of it will be through the draft."

The Chiefs began preparing to lose Albert on the April day last year they selected another tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. The Chiefs have Fisher and Donald Stephenson to play tackle and won't have room under their salary cap to re-sign Albert at a big price.

The same may ultimately hold true for McCluster, Jackson and Lewis as well.

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