If the Kansas City Chiefs don’t spend big money on Peyton Manning, who will likely be released by the Colts before the start of free agency, then there is one guy they should spend money on when free agency does start.
Houston Texans center Chris Meyers.
Meyers is a stud. He’s not only going to be the best center available in free agency, there is an argument to be made that he is the best center in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus would agree with that statement. They graded Meyers higher than any other center in the league last year at +32.6.
If the Chiefs aren’t going to land Manning, then they likely aren’t going to be spending big money on a QB this offseason. If that is the case, then putting together the best possible offensive line for Matt Cassel or Ricky Stanzi or whoever ends up starting at QB, should be the team’s top priority.
What about Rodney Hudson, you ask?
I’m glad you asked.
Chances are the Chiefs will draft a tackle either in the first or second round that they hope can immediately step in at RT. That means if the team decides to insert Hudson in at center, they’ll have a very young and inexperienced offensive line. Hudson and the new RT will be rookies and guard Jon Asamoah will be starting his second season as a starter. Branden Albert and G Ryan Lilja (who struggled at times last season) will be KC’s only true, tested veteran lineman.
Hudson played guard and college and while he projected as a center in the NFL, the Chiefs could still have him play guard. Bringing in Meyers at center would give the Chiefs a Pro Bowl center and enable them to use Hudson as backup swing man at guard and center, improving their offensive line depth in case of an injury to any of their interior positions. Should Lilja struggle again in 2012, they could easily rotate in or start Hudson in his place.
Meyers is only 30 and if Casey Wiegmann has taught us anything it is that offensive lineman, particularly centers, can play at a high level for a long time. The Chiefs could likely get four very good years out of Meyers and maybe even as much as six.
Simply, this guy can play. Just look at his PFF grades since 2008:
+6.0, +15.9, +21.2, +32.6
This isn’t just because of Arian Foster either. Foster has had his share of injuries and his backups have always come in and looked great running the football. Even Steve Slaton, who hasn’t been able to do much since 2009, rushed for over 1000 yards as a rookie in 2008 with Meyers blocking for him.
The way I look at it, the Chiefs have two ways they can win in 2012.
Option #1: is to land Peyton Manning or RGIII while filling the RT and depth positions as best they can in free agency. They may not get the very best options but their new franchise QB will likely make up for some of the shortcomings of their teammates. They always do. See Colts, Indianapolis.
Option #2: Landing a franchise QB doesn’t happen and so the Chiefs are forced to roll with a Matt Cassel/Kyle Orton/ Ricky Stanzi-type QB. Since these are not the type of QB’s the Chiefs will be able to rely upon to carry them, the team will need to lean on their other strengths such as the running game and defense. That means in this scenario, the Chiefs should load up on offensive line, RB and linebacker and safety depth.
Meyers won’t be cheap. He has said he wants to stay with the Texans but it is also being reported that he wants to test free agency. He has already supposedly drawn interest from the Packers. He’s going to have his pick of multiple teams. If the Chiefs want him, they’ll need to dust off Clark Hunt’s wallet. I am not usually in favor of over-spending on free agents but this is a guy I think would be worth it.
If the Chiefs whiff on Manning and know they won’t make a move for one of the Draft’s top QBs then Meyers should be Free Agent Priority #1.