INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are still deciding what do with receiver Dwayne Bowe and left tackle Branden Albert and it could have an impact on how they use the No. 1 pick in April's draft.
Bowe and Albert could both become free agents next month. And with a top-heavy class of offensive linemen available, including Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M, what the Chiefs do over the next two weeks could dictate how the draft falls.
"I did have a chance to look at him, and I'll tell you, he's a pretty good football player," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of Joeckel. "I haven't had an opportunity to meet him. I look forward to having that opportunity."
Bowe played in only 13 games last season because of injuries, but he still had 59 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns. The former first-round draft pick has been the Chiefs' top wide receiver almost since his arrival, catching 415 passes over the past six seasons.
Last season, the Chiefs kept him with the franchise tag. When the two sides couldn't work out a long-term deal, Bowe refused to report to the team until midway through training camp.
Reid said Thursday at the NFL's annual scouting combine that no decision has been made on Bowe, though it appears franchising him again is a possibility if they can't sign him to a new deal. The only other option is to let him test the free-agent market.
"We are going through that right now," Reid said. "Free agency kicks off here in a little bit (March 12) and we will see what happens before free agency. The main thing is, there is communication there and we'll just see how it works out over the next few weeks."
The bigger question might be what the Chiefs will do with Albert. He was limited to 11 starts last season because of a back injury and has only played in 16 games once in the last five seasons. But he recently traveled to Kansas City to undergo a physical, and Reid said the team is still discussing his situation.
"I had him in because he had a fairly significant injury, so we've kind of got to work through that," Reid said. "Our doctors were able to evaluate him, we're talking through it and we'll kind of reconvene after we're done with this week down here."
Another option would be trading out of the No. 1 pick, something Reid did not discount.
"We're going to evaluate everything," he said. "We're just not going to give it away, so we'd have to see what people throw our way. It's a pretty valuable pick."
PEY-OFF: Broncos coach John Fox dropped some bad news on the rest of the league Thursday when he said Peyton Manning could be even better in 2013 than he was in 2012.
The reasoning is simple. A year ago, as Manning worked out at Duke, he was still trying to regain strength in his right arm after multiple surgeries to repair nerve damage in his neck. Now Manning will have another offseason to recover, another offseason to fine-tune the Denver offense and work with teammates.
"The reality was that it was a nerve situation and it takes the nerves a while to grow," Fox said. "He is getting better every day and health-wise I believe he will be even better next year."
Whether that translates to better numbers on the field is the great unknown.
The only four-time MVP in league history was the runner-up in that category to Adrian Peterson, but still came away with the Comeback Player of the Year award after throwing for 4,679 yards, 37 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. He led the Broncos to the AFC's best record (13-3) but again lost in the playoffs, to eventual champion Baltimore.
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