The Kansas City Chiefs will need to be active in free agency this offseason if they hope to improve upon their 7-9 record from 2011.
It is clear the team has talent and while the Chiefs were hurt by injuries, their lack of depth at key positions clearly held them back.
This is the first in a series of posts we’ll do examining who the top free agents are at each position that we think the Chiefs could/should target. We’ll focus primarily on positions of need like QB, offensive line and safety. We’ll be using Pro Football Focus’s free agent tracker and ratings to determine which players might be the best fit in KC.
Up first, we’ll take a look at the free agent centers that could be available.
#1. Chris Myers, Houston Texans, +29.8 (UFA)
Myers is far and away the best center out there should he hit the market. He was drafted in the 6th round by the Broncos and has played both guard and center. He was sent to Houston in a sign and trade in 2008. He is 30 and will be 31 in September. His contract with the Texans was for 11 million over three years with three million guaranteed. He made the Pro Bowl this season for the first time.
Myers might be a guy the Texans want to re-sign, considering how successful their running game has been since he joined the team. Still, at 30 he is no longer an ascending player and will soon be a descending player. The Chiefs could likely get three years out of him but it won’t be cheap. Then again, they really need help at center.
It all comes down to how the team feels about Rodney Hudson’s development. If they feel he is ready, then they can look for depth instead of starters at center. If not, they had better figure something out because this position could be a major problem in 2012 if not addressed.
Myers is certainly worth a phone call should he become available.
#2. Scott Wells, Green Bay Packers, +18.0 (UFA)
Wells just turned 31 and was drafted by the Packers in the 7th round in 2004. He was named to his first Pro Bowl this year and is just wrapping up a five-year, 15 million dollar contract extension. Myers was graded a bit higher but still, Wells could be almost as expensive and is a few months older. He’ll be looking for one last big pay day.
#3. Jeff Saturday, Indianapolis Colts, +14.2 (UFA)
Change is underway in Indy and 14-year NFL veteran Jeff Saturday is likely going to be let go. He will be 37 in June so this may have been Saturday’s last season. The former undrafted free agent played well, though, so if he can put up with the aches and pains he might return for one last Super Bowl run. He might get snapped up by a contender ala Brian Waters. He shouldn’t be too expensive because of his age. He’s a one year stopgap at best. Probably not a good option for the Chiefs…
Unless Peyton Manning lands in Kansas City, of course.
#4. Todd McClure, Atlanta Falcons, +10.9 (UFA)
McClure is another old dude on the way down. He’ll turn 35 in February. He is also a seventh round pick. At his age, if the Falcons let him go, he’ll likely come at a bargain. He could add nice depth for a season if the Chiefs plan to roll with Hudson.
#5. Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens, +7.6 (UFA)
Birk, a former sixth round pick, will be 36 in July. He’s yet another guy on the down slope of his career. I’d put him in the same category as McClure. He’d be worth a look if he’s cheap and doesn’t mind playing backup. Otherwise, the Chiefs need to move on.
#6. Nick Hardwick, San Diego Chargers, +6.8 (UFA)
Now we’re getting somewhere. This is just the kind of pick I like. A decent player, not in diapers, but not getting social security checks either. Most of all, the Chiefs would be stealing him from a division rival.
Hardwick will be 31 in September but he’s only got 8 years under his belt. Drafted in the third round in 2004, Hardwick is wrapping up a five-year, 17 million dollar contract extension with the Dolts. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006.
Hardwick is a solid player and while he won’t likely be a bargain, he’s young enough to start for the Chiefs for a number of years. If this list has taught us anything, it is that centers hold up and hold on to their jobs well into their mid-30′s.
If KC wants a starter here, Hardwick is an excellent choice.
#7. Casey Wiegmann, Kansas City Chiefs, +4.5 (UFA)
Everything we’ve heard indicates Wiegmann is going to hang them up.He’s been in the league for 16 years and he hasn’t missed a snap since the Titanic sank. Wiegmann is a true iron man, a great Chief and he could probably come back next season at 39 and still be a middle of the pack center but the aches and pains may just be too much to deal with.
It is time for the Chiefs and Wiegmann to move on.
#8. Samson Satele, Oakland Raiders, +3 (UFA)
Satele could be an interesting pickup for KC if the Raiders let him walk. He was drafted in the second round by the Dolphins in 2007 and traded to Oakland for a 6th round pick in 2009. He spent time starting and sitting for the Raiders. He has been their starting center the last two seasons and blocked for Darren McFadden in 2010 when he rushed for 1,157 yards.
Satele is 27 and won’t turn 28 until next November. His PFF rating is just above average but considering the fact that the Chiefs have Rodney Hudson and then no one else at center, he would be an upgrade by the mere fact that he’s alive. This is a Pioli type of pick: all substance, no sizzle. Satele is just good enough to push Rodney Hudson for the starting job but probably not win it. He’ll provide depth and most of all, he won’t cost much.
Could be a solid pickup.
#9. Mike Pollak, Indianapolis Colts, +0.7 (UFA)
Saturday’s backup in Indy, Pollak was totally average, playing over 500 snaps in relief duty. Since Saturday is likely to depart, I’d guess the Colts will try to re-sign Pollak. He is 26 and was taken in the second round in 2008. If for some reason the Colts would let him go he’d be worth a look but don’t count on it.
After Pollak, the center cupboard is pretty much bare.
As noted above, the interesting trend here is that a lot of these guys were taken very late in the draft and they played long careers. If Pioli believes Hudson is his man, he may forgo picking up any centers in free agency and take another lineman for depth in the late rounds. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to have a veteran in the mix somewhere. The list at least tells us the GM will have options.
What do you think Addicts? Should the Chiefs target any of the guys on this list?