Stephenson's development means Chiefs likely won't tag Albert
FEB 17, 2014 4:05p ET
There is nothing official yet from the Chiefs, but all signs point to the team letting Albert walk through free agency.
The development of Blue Springs, Mo., native Donald Stephenson at the tackle position would allow the Chiefs to feel comfortable parting ways with Albert. Stephenson, a second-year man, could conceivably step into a starting role at left tackle, or the Chiefs could switch last year's first overall pick, Eric Fisher, to the left side and move Stephenson to right tackle.
The Chiefs also are in dire need of financial freedom to sign some of their own free agents.
By not franchising or re-signing Albert -- he would receive a little over $11 million this season if tagged -- the Chiefs could free up money to consider re-signing other pending free agents such as Dexter McCluster, who made the Pro Bowl as a punt returner last season, or versatile offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz.
Of course, letting Albert walk and inserting Stephenson into a starting role does create a depth issue the Chiefs would have to address through the draft or free agency (or re-signing Schwartz).
But Stephenson's rapid development at least allows the Chiefs to move on from Albert, who is 29 and whose play appeared to slip in 2013.
Albert not only missed four games last season but also was ranked as only the No. 28 tackle by Pro Football Focus.
Stephenson started six games last season, two at right tackle and four at left tackle.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Stephenson toward the end of the season, "He's gotten better every chance that he has had to play. You forget that he's a second-year player. You're going to have some ups and downs with him. We understand that (he's a) young guy. He's talented.
"He's a tremendous athlete. You saw him down the field (against Washington) on Jamaal (Charles') run. He led the pack down there. He has great athletic ability, and he can play either side. He can play guard for you; remember, we did that a little bit with him at camp, and I bet he could do that in games if you needed that. It's just a matter of him just continuing to play and getting reps under his belt and develop."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email email@example.com.