The NFL is a fickle, fickle league. Most players bounce around the league on short, one-year contracts that come with no promises of future renewal. And what a team decides to do with you next year has almost nothing to do with what you did last year.
Case in point: former Chiefs safety and current free agent Jon McGraw.
Ever since the days of Herm Edwards, McGraw has been a fixture as a rotational player, tight end cover man, goal line safety, and a starter in many pinches for the Kansas City Chiefs. Last year, with the team faced with stud starter Eric Berry’s season-ending ACL injury, McGraw started 10 games at either safety position.
And yet, when the season ended, he hit free agency and there has been zero buzz surrounding the idea of him returning. What’s crazier is that no other team has picked him up, either.
You’re talking about a player with around 20 games of starting experience. And while he’s not a starter, here were his numbers last year: 47 tackles, 1 sack, 6 passes defensed, 3 interceptions. That’s solid stats for your #3 or #4 safety, right there.
Not to defend McGraw without reservation, here. He clearly lacks athleticism, and gave Chiefs fans strokes with his multitude of missed tackles.
But the Chiefs entered this offseason with extremely shallow depth at the safety position. They drafted DeQuan Menzie to play safety, but he’s been out with a hand injury. Eric Berry is recovering from an ACL. And Kendrick Lewis has battled injuries his entire time as a Chief. All three have been sitting out OTAs.
That means the Chiefs have been starting converted-corner Travis Daniels and undrafted free agent Terrance Parks at the safety position nearly all offseason. One morning, they signed Abe Elam, a veteran safety off the scrap heap, and he started that afternoon.
Jon McGraw knows and has played in the Crennel defensive system two seasons now with modest results. He’s a high character guy whom teammates love. And if all three of our young safeties heal up, the safety position would transition from one of the team’s shallowest to one of the team’s deepest:
Projected safety depth chart: Berry, Lewis, Menzie, Elam, McGraw
That’s a good depth chart at the position — you’ve got four players with considerable NFL starting experience, with two high quality starters, as well as a promising rookie.
So why are we passing on him right now?
It’s possible the Chiefs are just going with a boom/bust guy in Terrance Parks or Neiko Thorpe, rather than a known quantity with extremely limited upside in McGraw. It’s possible they want more versatility in their safeties — Daniels can player corner and safety, as can Menzie. McGraw’s coverage ability is limited only to tight ends, and even then he’s sketchy.
But now that TE Martin Rucker is on IR, the Chiefs have one roster spot available.
Bring in Jon McGraw for a chance to win his job back.