Kansas City Chiefs’ OLB Mike Vrabel plans to play football again in 2011.
And no, it won’t be flag football at an old folks home.
Vrabel, while speaking to reporters in Columbus, Ohio, said he still has the desire to play, whether it is for the Chiefs or another team.
“My contract is up with the Chiefs, so I’ll be looking for a job as soon as this lockout ends,” said Vrabel.
Vrabel makes an important point there. Once the lockout is over and free agency begins, Vrabel will indeed be a free agent. There are a number of other Chiefs’ players, including sack artist Tamba Hali, who the team did not sign before the start of the lockout. Once the labor issues get resolved, the Chiefs will have to scramble to not only sign new free agents from other teams, they will also have to protect their own players from being snatched away by potential suitors.
That begs the question: Will the Chiefs attempt to bring back Vrabel?
Somewhere, AA staff writer Big Matt who is off celebrating his 30th birthday, just spit out a mouthful of Mad Dog 20/20 and choked “No!”
It is no secret that Vrabel’s play declined last season. He was virtually ineffective rushing the passer and while his veteran presence and experience surly helped the young Chiefs defense, there was more than once occasion where it was evident that old man Vrabel missed a play that a young Vrabel would have made.
So should the Chiefs bring him back?
It is a tough question. The Chiefs have a bit of a logjam at OLB. Hali is obviously going to be in on every play. The team has been grooming Andy Studebaker for two years and just drafted Justin Houston in April. At a certain point, Vrabel, who will be 36 in August, is going to have to take a seat on the bench so younger, faster players can get on the field.
I like Mike Vrabel. I’ve cheered for him ever since his days at Ohio State. That being said, the only capacity in which he should return to Kansas City as a reserve. I think Vrabel still has value in an NFL locker-room, not only as a leader/coach but also as a player.
It just isn’t as a starter.
As a reserve to provide depth and to mentor the young Houston, Vrabel is certainly worth bringing back so long as his contract comes at a reasonable price. If Mike is willing to come back and fill that role for the Chiefs, I think the team should jump on him when free agency begins.
If, however, Vrabel still thinks he deserves to be starting and playing every down, the Chiefs have to let him go. The rebuild in Kansas City is over. The future is now in Kansas City.
Vrabel is a relic of the past.