Tonight at midnight the “official” NFL free agency period begins. For the past three days teams have been able to be “in contact” with players’ agents but no deals have been allowed to be signed. That all changes at the stroke of midnight tonight. Fans always want their team to go out and spend money on the highest profile players in hopes of landing a super star that will lead their team to a Super Bowl. That rarely if ever happens. The good teams use free agency to supplement their roster with solid players that fill gaps and provide depth. The teams that shell out huge pay days to a single player in free agency rarely get their money’s worth. With that in mind, I’ve come up with ten moves I’d like to see KC make in the coming days. There is no way that they will make all ten, but I think a combination of four or five of these could really help solidify the roster heading into the draft.
I’ll start with the offense.
1. Restructure Matt Cassel’s contract to be the backup QB.
I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but have you looked at the FA QB market? Jason Campbell, David Garrard, Rex Grossman, do any of these guys REALLY sound like better options to fill in for Alex Smith should he go down with an injury? It seems to me that Reid and Dorsey want to win games now. If that’s the case then you don’t want a mid to late round draft pick starting for you if your QB goes down. Cassel did well in NE and under Charlie Weis in KC when he had good coaching. He’s also a team first guy that would support Alex Smith. I think that under Andy Reid Cassel would be the best backup QB option available for KC. They can still draft a QB and he can compete with Stanzi for the #3 spot.
2. Sign RB LaRod Stephens-Howling from Arizona.
A lot of KC fans have talked about getting a new “thunder” to replace Peyton Hillis as the change of pace to Jamaal Charles’ “lightning”. However, Andy Reid doesn’t run the ball much so I’m just not sure a “thunder” is needed. Frankly, I’d rather they give the ball to JC on 3rd and short then some 240 lbs back up RB anyway. Stephens-Howling is only 26 years old, he’s quick, he catches the ball well, he plays special teams, he’s a good kick returner, he would be a perfect back up to JC, and best of all he will be relatively cheap in free agency. I say let him and Cyrus Gray compete for the 2nd string spot.
3. Sign WR David Nelson from Buffalo.
David Nelson is not a big name WR like Greg Jennings or Mike Wallace, but after giving Dwayne Bowe a huge payday the Chiefs can’t afford to pay another WR big FA dollars. Nelson is only 26 years old and was looking like an up and coming player before an ACL injury in week one last year ended his season. In 2011 he started 13 games and caught 61 passes for 658 yards and 5 TDs. He’s another big WR at 6’5″ and 214 lbs. The nice thing about Nelson is that he would push Jon Baldwin. If Baldwin responds and claims the #2 WR spot then Nelson could be the #3 WR, which would be fine since he shouldn’t command a lot of money. If Baldwin doesn’t step up then Nelson is good enough to step in and be the #2 behind Bowe. A lot of people are clamoring for a deep threat WR, but since Smith doesn’t have the strongest arm, I’m not sure KC could utilize that kind of player.
4. Sign TE Brandon Myers from Oakland.
Brandon Myers quietly caught 79 passes for 806 yards and 4 TDs for the Raiders last season. The 27 year old won’t be cheap, but also won’t command the huge contract that a big name would. Myers would push Moeaki as the first string TE. Myers isn’t a great blocker, but he isn’t a turn-style either. The TE position is going to take on an even greater importance with Andy Reid and Alex Smith at the helm of the offense. Both men have relied heavily on the TE as a safety valve. The Chiefs just can’t rely on Moeaki and his injury history. Plus, stealing one of the Raiders better offensive players makes this move all the better.
5. Sign C/G Evan Dietrich-Smith from Green Bay.
The 26 year old Dietrich-Smith has ties to new GM John Dorsey. He has versatility in that he could play at either center or guard. He has only started 9 games over the past two seasons so again he shouldn’t command a fat contract. Besides his connection to Dorsey, the other big plus is his ability to play all the interior line spots gives KC some options. If Hudson is slow to come back from his injury then he could start at center. If Hudson is ready to go then he could challenge Jeff Allen for a starting guard spot.
6. Sign RT Andre Smith from Cincinnati.
This is the one real big dollar free agent on my list. It’s probably the biggest long shot as well. Most people are assuming that the Chiefs cut Eric Winston to make room for the selection of an OT with the first overall pick. On a recent radio interview Winston said his release was a “philosophical thing”. Many have said that Reid likes a bigger and more physical offensive line. Andre Smith is a physically imposing 6’4″ 335 lbs (I’d wager he’s actually heavier then that listed weight). Smith and Albert would be a great pair of bookend tackles and would give KC the freedom back to do whatever they want with the first overall pick that they had before they released Winston.
Now on to the defense.
7. Re-sign Ropati Pitoitua.
This one seems like a no brainer to me. Pitoitua played well for KC last season and he has experience in the Jets 3-4 system that their new DC will be bringing to KC. I don’t know that Pitoitua should be a starter, but he’s a solid rotational player and should come with a cheap price tag. (Note: if recent reports of the Chiefs keeping Glenn Dorsey are true this move may not be needed.)
8. Sign DT/DE Desmond Bryant from Oakland.
Stealing another Raider, isn’t it great! Bryant might be the player I’d most like to see in KC on this list. He’s 26 years old, 6’6″ and 311 lbs, and has averaged 4.5 sacks over the past two seasons as an interior pass rusher. A defensive front of Bryant, Poe, and Jackson would be a very physically imposing one. Bryant would become the best interior pass rusher on the team and would possibly open Poe up for one on one blocking on passing downs. (Again, if Dorsey is re-signed this may not be feasible, but given the choice of Dorsey or Bryant I’d take Bryant hands down.)
9. Sign ILB Bart Scott from the Jets.
The Chiefs need a new starting ILB next to Derrick Johnson. Scott is getting up there in years and is a bit of a loud mouth. That sounds like a bad thing but it’s exactly why I want him in KC. Guys like DJ and Tamba Hali are both great lead by example guys but they aren’t much of a “rally the troops” vocal leader when the game is on the line. Scott would obviously know the Chiefs new 3-4 by heart and might give the talented KC defense the vocal leader they need to hold them accountable when things aren’t going well.
10. Sign FS Charles Woodson from Green Bay.
Another connection with GM John Dorsey from Green Bay. Woodson isn’t ready to retire yet, but may only have one or two seasons left in him. I love the idea of Woodson back there leading the Chiefs secondary. I REALLY love the idea of him mentoring Eric Berry. Woodson could play FS next year and then perhaps they could move the recently signed Dunta Robinson to FS after he retires.
There’s my list Addicts. What do you think? Who do you like? Who don’t you like? Who did I leave off the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and I look forward to see if any of these guys end up in KC starting tonight.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!