Despite contradictory reports from multiple news agencies 2 days ago about whether talks had stalled or were making progress, the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, ESPN's Ed Werner, and ESPN's Adam Schefter report that talks between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins have resumed today, with all sides pushing to get a deal done.
The two issues that have delayed the trade so far have been Albert's contract demands as well as the exact compensation to the Chiefs for trading Albert.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported 2 days ago that the Dolphins were willing to give Albert a contract in the $8.5-9.5 million per year range, which is slightly more than Jake Long got from the Rams and would make Albert one of the highest paid left tackles in the NFL.
With that resolved, the issue then became what draft pick the Chiefs would get in return for a trade. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the discussions between the teams center around the Dolphins' second 2nd round pick (54th overall). If the Chiefs accept that pick, this would mark the second time the Chiefs have lowered their demands for Albert. Back in March, it was reported that the Chiefs wanted a second round pick and an additional mid-round pick for Albert. About 10 days ago, it was reported the Chiefs had lowered their demands to a "high" second round pick. The 54th overall pick is most definitely a "low" second round pick, and I believe the Chiefs are lowering their price because the situation they find themselves in is less than stellar.
If Ireland holds off on approving the deal, as both Armando Salguero and Barry Jackson suggest, Ireland would be daring the Kansas City Chiefs to draft an offensive tackle #1 overall – likely Luke Joeckel – without securing a trade deal for Branden Albert beforehand.
If they do that, then the Chiefs will have the following offensive tackle situation:
2013 #1 overall draft pick Luke Joeckel ($5+ million per year)
2013 Franchise tagged Branden Albert ($10 million this year)
2012 3rd round pick Donald Stephenson ($700k this year)
The Chiefs picked Stephenson last year, but he was stuck behind both Albert and Eric Winston on the depth chart. If the Chiefs don’t manage to trade Albert, they’re stuck dealing with the following situation after taking Joeckel:
Their 2012 3rd round pick at OT spends his entire sophomore season as a backup OT with very limited snaps after spending his rookie season as a backup OT with limit snaps.
Even worse, they either make Branden Albert the highest paid right tackle in NFL history by moving him to right tackle against his will, or they have Luke Joeckel become the first ever #1 overall pick who was asked to play out of position for at least 1 year at right tackle after being drafted as a left tackle.
That situation would represent a waste of talent for them – to the point where they could feel pressured to get Albert traded for some value so they could get cheaper at offensive tackle, give former third round pick Stephenson something to do, and allow Joeckel to develop at left tackle immediately.
I'm sure there's a "bare minimum price" the Chiefs have in mind that they would refuse to accept less than, but they might continue to lower their asking price if it’s draft day and nobody else beside the Miami Dolphins is showing real interest in Albert. The alternative for the Chiefs would be for them to deal with a glut of offensive tackles (2 of them natural left tackles) on their roster.
I honestly don’t think they have as much leverage as they think they do, so I’d prefer any trade go down as late as possible to get a better deal for Miami. In other words, while getting Albert for "just" the 54th overall pick would represent a minor victory given the Chiefs' earlier demands, I think their price will keep dropping the later Ireland pushes this.
Also, who knows? Given that, as I wrote yesterday, so many teams in the top 12 want to trade down in this draft, it might be better to just wait and see who is available in the draft before agreeing to any trade. Maybe Eric Fisher has a fluke draft-day fall? Maybe a second-round offensive tackle that the team is really high on is available at pick #42?
The saying, "Patience is a virtue," is especially apt in this case.
UPDATE: ESPN has added new details to their earlier report that trade talks have been progressing. ESPN's Ed Werner believes that Branden Albert's contract demands have NOT been agreed to by the Miami Dolphins, despite NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reporting the Dolphins had already agreed to meet those demands 2 days ago. Depending on whom you choose to believe, either the final barrier to the trade is haggling over the quality of the draft pick being sent to Kansas City (per NFL.com), or both the draft pick and Albert's contract are issues that still need to be resolved (per ESPN).
SECOND UPDATE: The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero and Barry Jackson, as well as NFL Network's Steve Wyche, all report that the Dolphins have agreed to meet Albert's contract demands. The remaining dispute is over whether the Chiefs get pick #54 - which the Dolphins are offering - or pick #42 - which the Chiefs want.