There has been some speculation around the Internet that the New York Giants and Will Beatty are not far from a long-term contract agreement. So, perhaps the left tackle spot won't be an issue the Giants are forced to address this off-season.
What if, however, Beatty and the Giants are unable to seal the deal and the soon-to-be 28-year-old leaves via free agency? Who plays left tackle for the Giants then? Do they turn to veteran David Diehl, who we talked about at length on Tuesday? Do they draft a replacement? It's hard to imagine the Giants turning over protecting the blind side of Eli Manning to a rookie.
That leaves the free-agent market. So, today let's look at one of the better left tackles who could be hitting the free agent market next month -- Branden Albert of Kansas City.
Albert is a 6-foot-5, 318-pound five-year veteran who has started at least 11 games every season for Kansas City. Pro Football Focus ranks Albert as the fourth-best offensive tackle available in free agency, just behind Beatty. PFF says:
If you want your left tackle to be a top-line pass protector, the Chiefs would be wise - health questions pending - to keep hold of Albert. Having successfully transitioned to left tackle from guard as a college player Albert has become one of the league's better pass protectors and there is no guarantee that the likes of Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, high as their stock may be now, will actually reach that level. Robert Gallery anyone?
On the open market Albert is a player whose pass protection should be coveted by teams in search of an upgrade on their quarterback's blindside. His run blocking may be disappointing for a converted guard, but if he checks out medically then his run blocking (-1.1 combined last two seasons) is far from prohibitive, considering the immense benefit you get from his pass protection (+31.0 in the same period).
Joel Thorman of SB Nation's Chiefs web site, Arrowhead Pride, had this to say about Albert:
Branden Albert is an interesting case in Kansas City. He was the Chiefs 2008 first round pick and had a solid rookie year. But in his second year, the 2009 season, he reported to camp overweight and was forced to lose roughly 40 pounds, which caused him to have a bad year. Fast forward a couple years. In 2011 and 2012, Albert showed great improvement in his overall game, and putting him in the top half of tackles in the NFL. He had a back injury last season that isn't believed to be serious but has complicated some of the negotiations with the Chiefs. Albert is a good left tackle and if the Chiefs didn't have the No. 1 pick, and the ability to draft an elite tackle prospect like Joeckel, I would be pounding the table for him to stay. He's a hard worker and being the best left tackle he can be is important to him. I don't think Albert is going to be an elite left tackle but you could do a lot worse, especially in a buyer's market for left tackles like this off-season period is expected to be.
What if the Giants do sign Beatty? Could Albert be a guy they could look at as a right tackle? Thorman says no, that Albert considers himself a left tackle only.
Arrowhead Pride offered a glimpse into Albert's personality with some quotes from an interview Albert recently gave regarding his free-agent status. Here is one:
"My thing is this. Do not disrespect me. Like I told people before, I worked at my craft. From when I came into the league until now, it was rough [at times]. I had a great rookie year, the second year was rough, the third was rough, last year was a lot better, and this year was great. I finally got to that platform where people know me as a great football player."
Rotoworld ranked Albert 14th on a list of the top 50 potential free agents.
SB Nation ranked Albert No. 3 among offensive tackles who could be free agents.
Your thoughts' Giants' fans? Would Albert be a potential Plan B if Beatty does not return?