I have been thinking it over and I believe the best move the Chiefs could make in FA is to sign Julius Peppers to a 3 or 4 year contract. It will be expensive but the Chiefs have the money to spend.
Why sign a DE when the Chiefs have two young, top 5 draft picks playing end already? Why indeed. I don’t want Peppers to play DE for the Chiefs. PEPPERS doesn’t want to play DE for the Chiefs, nor any other team for that matter.
He wants to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
See ya, Mike Vrabel.
Look, Mike Vrabel is great and everything but he is 34 and probably just had his last productive season. Even if he can manage to stay fairly productive, he is likely to get bitten by the injury bug ala Donnie Edwards.
Andy Studebaker or “Mike Vrabel Jr.” as I like to call him, is great. He has been a surprise and I would love to see what he could do, but he is still very young and may not be ready to bare the starting load just yet. Vrabel’s contract is up. I say let him go. He will be fairly expensive to resign and won’t be half as valuable as Peppers.
If the Chiefs could turn Tamba Hali into a viable pass rushing threat by moving him from DE to OLB, then they can do it with Peppers.
While the Chiefs improved in the sack department last year, they were still pretty bad. Tamba played very well, especially considering he was the only
legit pass rusher on the entire defense. But Tamba can’t put heat on the QB every play and Vrabel registered only 2 sacks all year. He isn’t a pass rushing OLB.
The tandem of Tamba Hali and Julius Peppers would be terrifying for opposing teams. It would make the Chiefs 3-4 work like it is supposed to.
Allow me to explain.
One of the advantages to running a 3-4 defense is that the opposition can never be quite sure who the 4th rushing lineman will be. The 3 guys with their hands on the ground, they are coming. The offense knows they are coming. But who is going to be the 4th rusher? Sure, sometimes teams rush only 3 but they are unlikely ever to get to the QB that way. In most instances, the Chiefs will rush 4.
Now imagine you are the opposition. You are in a 3rd and long situation. You know Dorsey, Edwards and Jackson are coming. You know the Chiefs are going to send at least 1 more guy. You look at the linebackers. Who do you think is coming? Hali, Williams, Mays or Vrabel. You can probably count out Williams and Mays because they are fairly small for linebackers and they are unlikely to get through your big offensive lineman too quickly. That leaves Hali and Vrabel. You’ve seen the tape. You know Hali is the Chiefs best pass rusher. You know he is the one coming. You are taking a pretty safe bet that the others will be dropping back. It is safe because you know last year that Vrabel, Dorsey, Jackson and Edwards had a combined 3 sacks.
Now imagine, you line up in a 3rd and long and you are staring at Dorsey, Jackson, a NT to be named, and say, Hali, DJ or Williams or Mays, McClain and Peppers. Who is coming?
Peppers had 10.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 42 tackles and 2 interceptions playing DE last year. You don’t get 2 picks playing DE unless you get two QB gifts or you have the ability to drop back a little bit in coverage. Speculation around the league is that Peppers would make a very good OLB in the 3-4. Peppers himself has expressed a desire to be picked up by a 3-4 team to play OLB. He is only 30 years old and if you look at Ray Lewis, who played in the Pro Bowl last night at age 34, you know the Chiefs can probably get 3 to 4 years out of Peppers.
Signing Peppers, a NT in the second round and either McClain or Berry with their first pick in RD 1, would totally transform the Chiefs defense. This is of course, contingent on the furthered development of Jackson and Dorsey, although by the end of the season, both were doing a pretty darn good job of swallowing up blockers and making tackles. That is what lineman in the 3-4 are supposed to do, swallow up blockers, clog running lanes and open up holes so that the linebackers can make plays.
The Chiefs have many holes to fill. Most of those holes will have to be filled in the draft but if the team wants to be competitive now, they will have to sign some free agents that can help. It is never smart to overspend in free agency but Peppers is an impact player, a great player, who can make an immediate impact on the Chiefs defense. He is the type of player who will make his teammates better, just like Jamaal Charles made the offensive line look better in the 2nd half of 09.’ He can probably contribute at a high level for the next 3 to 4 years. There is a chance he may even be a better OLB in the 3-4 than he is a DE in a 4-3.
This is one move that is worth the risk.