It's a question of retention...

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…and Joel Thorman has all the answers, thank goodness.

Thor Man is undergoing the always-vexing questions of which Kansas City Chiefs should be rescued from the murky waters of free agency, and which ones should be set out to sea:

Here’s the full list of the Chiefs (expected) unrestricted free agents: NT Ron Edwards, DE Shaun Smith, WR Terrance Copper, C Casey Wiegmann, S Jon McGraw, LB Charlie Anderson, WR Kevin Curtis, CB Travis Daniels, LB Mike Vrabel, FB Tim Castille, OT Ryan O’Callaghan, LB Corey Mays, TE Leonard Pope, C Rudy Niswanger and QB Brodie Croyle.

I’ve already tabbed Edwards, Smith, Copper and Wiegmann as guys they must keep. Now for the others…

Now, we’ve been talking endlessly about this, this offseason.  Thorman has plenty of agreement ’round these parts with Wiegmann.  Shaun Smith seems to be a popular AA figure as well, though Sweet Ron’s fallen from our good graces for quite some time, despite the Chiefs’ full intent to resign him.  I think most of us would prefer a Smith-Powe combination at nose tackle than to bring back Ron Edwards for yet another underwhelming December.  I happen to love Terrance Copper — he’s easily the best special teams WR I’ve seen in a Chiefs uniform, and deserves to remain as a down-roster type guy. 

Joel’s piece is great and deserves a full read (I’ll wait).  After the jump, we’ll break down his takes on the other players worth keeping, and bring the AA hardwood to each take.

Of the above listed players (and excluding the four that he believes are definite must-signs), Joel sorts out the remaining talent as follows…

Sign back “if the price is right”:

  • S Jon McGraw
  • CB Travis Daniels
  • OT Ryan O’Callaghan
  • C Rudy Niswanger
  • OLB Mike Vrabel
  • TE Leonard Pope

Allow to hit free agency:

  • ILB Charlie Anderson
  • WR Kevin Curtis
  • FB Tim Castille
  • ILB Corey Mays
  • QB Brody Croyle

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this list, it’s that Joel has a hard time letting go.

It’s odd to say about a team that played in January last year, but the Chiefs are still a rebuilding team.  We are not looking for final puzzle pieces, we are not a war-tested battalion, we are not ready for that stage.  So every move this team must make, it must make with a future Super Bowl run in mind, not for a potential Super Bowl season in 2011, which is not going to happen.

And you don’t do that by cycling in the same garbage and half-garbage that could keep you afloat on the back end of your roster.  You do it by clearing out the parts of the back end of your roster and bringing in new talent that is less of a known quantity, but has an opportunity to provide something we haven’t had before. 

This is the advantage that rebuilding teams have that championship-competitive teams do not have.  We can test players out by the dozen, and if a couple of them work out for a future run, we’re totally aces.  Very few teams that need those remaining puzzle pieces are able to sustain that kind of turnover.

I think the “allow to hit free agency” list is fine, and I agree with it except that I think it needs to be bigger.  I don’t care what their pricetags are, but Mike Vrabel, Ryan O’Callaghan, Travis Daniels, Rudy Niswanger, and maybe even Jon McGraw are known quantities at this point, and are in no way a part of our future Super Bowl runs (multiple!). 

Vrabel’s leadership is a welcome addition to our coaching staff, but as I’ve noted before, the Chiefs are absolutely stacked with raw, young talent at his position that needs reps for us to observe who belongs on the field.  And while we may not be as stacked at positions like center (though with Wiegmann and Hudson, I’d say we’re good), or tackle, or corner or safety, or whatever, there’s plenty of free agency talent that is (a.) acquirable, and (b.) at the very worst, isn’t going to be that much of a dropoff in quality from the people we’re letting go.  Matter of fact, I’d estimate we could land people in the dregs of free agency better than many of the iffy re-signs that Thorman would endorse for a good pricetag.  Because the dregs of free agency is where each of these players are headed, and that should tell us something.

This is what free agency is for.  We have it so that players can be free for self-determination, yes.  But we also have it so that the best talent lands in the best possible spots, and if things don’t work out, you cycle in new talent.

Each of these positions is ripe for an upgrade.  Whether we can get it in free agency is left to be determined.  But except in certain scenarios that I don’t believe any of the above players are in, you simply don’t get a better product by sticking with the same players.

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