After a quick start to free agency with the signing of Steve Breaston, it seems like the Kansas City Chiefs search for free agents has come to a crawl. The first week of free agency saw the Chiefs sign three significant free agents; however they also lost two very key players on the defensive line.
In losing Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith along the defensive line the Chiefs had, and still have, a significant hole to fill at the nose tackle position. The Chiefs passed on the Aubrayo Franklin sweepstakes and instead brought in a ten year veteran who may or may not be on the decline.
Unquestionably the biggest signing the Chiefs have made so far in free agency was to bring in Breaston, aging but still capable Kelly Gregg, and young up and coming linebacker Brandon Siler. Each of these players should have an impact on the team and hopefully help improve play on both sides of the ball.
Steve Breaston – B
Breaston was near the top of that free agent wide receiver class and the fact that the Chiefs got him was huge. Breaston had a breakout season in 2008, under then Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, when he caught 77 balls for 1,003 yards and three scores for the Arizona Cardinals.
Breaston has not done much in Arizona the last two seasons. This lack of production was due to several leg injuries and playing with quarterbacks such as Matt Leinart and Max Hall. With a solid supporting cast around him, look for Breaston to achieve the same level of success he had in 2008.
Breaston will not only be a reliable slot receiver for the Chiefs in 2011 but he most likely will start. Due to the lockout, first round pick Jonathan Baldwin is experiencing an abbreviated rookie offseason which will leave him with very limited experience with Haley and the offense. Breaston will be able to step in with his experience in Haley’s offense and give Baldwin time to watch and develop.
The Breaston signing to me is very similar to the Ryan Lilja signing of 2010. Both are solid player who will make the Chiefs offense instantly better. The only reason I give this signing does not receive an A is to due to the injury history the Breaston has. If he is able to stay healthy then he will be a great signing for the Chiefs, but if he still has lingering leg issues the Chiefs could be getting a player who could miss significant time.
Kelly Gregg – C
As mentioned before the Chiefs, who were already short at NT, lost both Ron Edwards and Shaun “Perv” Smith. Edwards left for to sign a three year deal with the Carolina Panthers and Perv left to play for the Tennessee Titans.
These two departures leave a huge hole in the middle of the Chiefs defensive line. Without Ron or Shaun the Chiefs had Anthony Toribio and rookie Jerrell Powe left on the roster.
To attempt to address this hole the Chiefs brought in ten-year veteran Kelly Gregg. Gregg, who is out of Oklahoma, played nine years with Baltimore compiling 124 games started and recorded 19.5 sacks.
The problem with Gregg is that he will be 35 next season, and he was just cut by the Ravens, a team who he had played most of his career with. Gregg appears to me like a Mike Vrabel type signing.
Gregg is a veteran who knows his position quite well and is known for being a good mentor. It appears Gregg was brought in to fill a need on a short term basis while he mentors and prepares rookie Powe for the position in the future. While this was a step in the right direction, the Chiefs need to continue to try and improve this position.
I give this signing a C, not because Gregg isn’t talented, but because the Chiefs chose not to go after a younger and more talented player such as Aubrayo Franklin. Franklin could help this team more than any other free agent on the market. It appears the Chiefs had plenty of cap space to go after Franklin but chose not to.
Brandon Siler – B
The name Brandon Siler does not make an fan want to jump out of there sit with joy, but this kid is a good football player. When it was announced that Siler, who had spent his entire four-year career with the San Diego Chargers, would be joining the Chiefs defense, I saw it as a victory.
During the past two seasons Siler has averaged 55 tackles a season. Siler’s main competition in training camp, Jovan Belcher, has average 66 tackles the last two seasons. While those numbers make it seem like Siler is not an upgrade, consider this, Siler only started 12 games the last two season while Belcher started 20.
Siler is also more of a threat to make an interception, as he has two in his career compared to Belcher who has none. This signing gets a B, because while Siler was not a huge free agent signing, he is a young player with lots of upside who will most likely start.
I see this one as victory for the Chiefs. Not only will Siler improve the inside linebacker position for the Chiefs, but it is always a little sweeter when it is at the expense of a rival such as the Chargers.
Le’Ron McClain – A
Just when it appeared that the Chiefs running game couldn’t get any better, they go out and get a two time Pro Bowl fullback to block for Jamaal Charles, the NFL’s second leading rusher in 2010. In addition, McClain had 10 rushing touchdowns back in 2008, proving that he has the ability to run the ball in short yardage situations.
In terms of run blocking, McClain is one of the best and does a good job sealing off the corner and laying out linebackers to make space for running backs. Charles already runs behind an offensive line that has one of the best zone blocking schemes in the league. The addition of McClain will make the Chiefs running game that much more dynamic in 2011.
McClain joins a Chiefs team that has been deprived of good fullback since Tony Richardson was in the early 2000s. Mike Cox has been subpar at best, and not much can be expected out of 7th round pick Shane Bannon. McClain will be able to step in as the starter from day one and provide Bannon with the mentoring he needs to eventually take the fullback position from McClain.