Mark March 12th on your calendars, Addicts.
It’s the first day of free agency for the Kansas City Chiefs and the rest of the NFL. Our illustrious staff here at AA has spent the past few weeks talking about the 2013 NFL Draft (mostly in a vacuum though). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but what happens in late-April is dependent upon what transpires in the six weeks leading up to the draft. The Chiefs have some in-house business to attend to, but may also look for outside help to solidify their roster.
With a solid FA haul, the Chiefs can de-pressurize their draft situation. There’s a wide range of opinions about the positional problem areas the Kansas City Chiefs have. Some think this team is devoid of talent (notwithstanding six players being named to Sunday’s Pro Bowl). I believe that there are only five positions that need to be addressed through free agency and the draft (QB, WR, DE, S, and LB). Let’s take a closer look, shall we? I’ll only list the offensive options I consider to be viable. We’ll explore defensive options next Tuesday.
It’s no secret that quarterback is the one position that needs the most attention this offseason. Quite a few people are convinced we’ll fill the position in April. It’s just as reasonable to think they could find Matt Cassel’s replacement through free agency though. There aren’t many attractive options, but consider the following:
1. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
The former #1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft is still under contract with the Niners, but he’s likely to be moved off of their roster shortly after the 2013 league year begins. Three days into the new league year, Smith will be due a $1 million dollar roster bonus. San Francisco will want to trade him, but most suspect he’ll be cut. Alex Smith revived his career over the past two seasons by completing 64% of his passes and throwing 30 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. He was supplanted by Colin Kaepernick mid-season, but that decision was scrutinized for almost three months (until Kaepernick led San Francisco to Super Bowl XLVII).
2. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
Moore took his “talents to South Beach” when he was signed to be Chad Henne’s backup in the summer of 2011. Henne went down with a shoulder injury in an early-October game with the San Diego Chargers. Matt Moore would step in and post an 87.1 passer rating in 12 starts for Miami. Unfortunately, that 2011 performance wasn’t enough to earn him the starting job. Ryan Tannehill was drafted 8th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft and went on to become their Day 1 starter. Matt Moore is the only quarterback on this list who’ll actually be unrestricted once the free agency period starts. He’s in little danger of being retained by Miami and will be free and clear for any interested team to sign.
3. Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks
Flynn, like Smith, is under contract for the upcoming season. He was brought in last year and expected to be the starter. That was until Russell Wilson rode in a white horse and had a historical rookie campaign. He’s now entrenched in the starting role for the foreseeable future. Matt Flynn, on the other hand, is scheduled to make $5.25 million for 2013 season. That’s a pretty penny for a backup, but the Seahawks could retain him as an expensive insurance policy. They can also put Flynn on the block and see what teams might be interested in acquiring his services. Flynn was available a year ago, but only Seattle and Miami courted him. There figure to be a few more teams in the market for a quarterback this offseason. That should help Flynn’s cause, as the options in free agency and the draft are inferior to those available this time last year. He’s done little to warrant a starting job in the NFL, but he did play for the same Green Bay Packers that Kansas City’s newly hired general manager worked for.
1. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs
Thanks to another looming contract situation with Branden Albert, the Chiefs have a dilemma on their hands. More than likely one of the two will be franchised. The tag for wide receiver is $10.3 million in 2013, but Bowe would be due $11.1 million since he was tagged in 2012. The rule is, a franchise player receives either the franchise number for the current year or 120% of his salary the previous year (whichever is higher). Kansas City would save money franchising Branden Albert instead. He’s only due $9.6 million as an offensive linemen. Bowe will have company in free agency though. Mike Wallace, Wes Welker, and Greg Jennings will also be vying for big contracts. That only helps Kansas City if they’re serious about retaining him.
2. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
If Kansas City decides to let Bowe hit the open market, they could pursue 26-year old Wallace. He’s two years younger than Bowe and should be the odd man out in the Steel City. Pittsburgh has an unfavorable cap situation staring them in the face. Wallace is more of a downfield threat than Bowe, averaging nearly 4 more career yards per catch, but he comes with some of the same problems (see: drops). Mike Wallace regressed in 2012 under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, but some of that can be attributed to offensive changes. A new team, looking to utilize his speed and stretch the field vertically, will present an opportunity for Wallace to get his career back on track.
1. Peyton Hillis, Kansas City Chiefs
I’ll probably be one of a select few people who’ll publicly express a desire to bring Hillis back for another season. He was pretty underwhelming as the Chiefs’ #2 runningback. Take away the 101-yard performance in the Week 16 game against Indianapolis and Hillis averaged just 16 yards per game (compose yourself). That’s a compelling case for re-signing him I know, but I’m not convinced that he was healthy for any extended period of time last season. For most of the season, Shaun Draughn outperformed Peyton Hillis, but he’s not the big, physical presence they need in the backfield.
2. Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots
I’ll give you two reasons why Woodhead may soon be out of work: Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. Those two backs are four and five years younger than Woodhead, respectively. Woodhead, at this point, is more dependable than Vereen, but his time may still be up in Foxboro. His pass-catching abilities should intrigue new head coach Andy Reid. Woodhead could be a bit like Brian Westbrook in Reid’s offensive system. Danny Woodhead’s as reliable as they come on third down, both as an option out of the backfield and in pass protection.
1. Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
The former 2nd round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, languished in Dallas and never made good on their investment. The New York Giants took a chance on Bennett in 2012, signing him to a one-year deal. Bennett rewarded them with over 600 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. Bennett told the Giants he’s wanted to stay with the team, but the Giants never spoke with him about an extension. I think Big Blue will make an honest effort to keep Bennett in the Big Apple, but as with anything else, money talks. Martellus Bennett is just 25 years old and he’s ascending.
1. Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
I mentioned this earlier, but I think Albert’s the player Kansas City should use their franchise tag on. Doing so, will be the best way to avoid Luke Joeckel being the first player to greet commissioner Roger Goodell in the NFL Draft. There are better left tackles in the NFL, but Albert has been one of the few constants on the offensive side of the ball in Kansas City. He’s played well consistently, but there are concerns about his ability to stay healthy. Branden Albert’s back spasms are something the organization should think carefully about. His play is much less of a concern for them though. In pass protection in 2012, Albert surrendered just one sack in 11 games.
If Kansas City can retain Albert and Bowe, they’ll be well on their way to a successful offseason campaign offensively. Adding a few of the other names would help round out a solid offensive core. When we reconvene next week, I’ll explore options for both the defense and special teams units. You can debate amongst yourselves about offensive options in the interim.
Until then, Addicts!