New Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, left, poses with new head coach Andy Reid during an NFL football news conference announcing Dorsey's hiring Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Chiefs Free Agency Outlook 2014 (Part 2)

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Last week we began this two-part article by taking a look at the offensive options available in the forthcoming free agency period. On the chance that you missed last Tuesday’s article, take a moment to get up to speed. For the rest of you, let’s pick up where we left off and look at defensive players scheduled to hit the open market.

For all of the praise heaped upon the Chiefs’ defense in the first half of 2013, it might still be the unit that needs the most attention this offseason. Kansas City has three starters and several key contributors who are pending free agents. Among them are: Tyson Jackson, Kendrick Lewis, Akeem Jordan, Frank Zombo, Husain Abdullah, and Quintin Demps. The surrender of 28 second half points, in a playoff loss to the Colts, amplifies the idea that the defense needs a few upgrades.

Without further ado, here are the defensive options the Chiefs should consider in the 2014 free agency class. Remember while this list is numbered, the players aren’t in any particular order.

Defensive End:

I think it’s fairly safe to say that despite marked improvement, Tyson Jackson won’t return to the Chiefs in 2014. There’s some question as to whether or not he improved enough to warrant a new deal. I’m convinced that John Dorsey can identify a comparable replacement at a cheaper price. Kansas City has a pair of young defensive ends in the cupboard, but neither of them are proven commidities.

1. Corey Wootton (Chicago Bears)

The fourth-year man out of Northwestern, playing as the under tackle in their 4-3 scheme, became a full-time starter in 2013. His pass-rushing numbers saw a decline, but he’s a 26-year old football player will room left to grow. Wootton would play defensive end in Kansas City and be a suitable alternative to Tyson Jackson (should the Chiefs allow him to become an unrestricted free agent). Wootton could stand to bulk up a bit, but is stout at the point and is an above-average run defender. He’s probably a slight upgrade over Jackson where it concerns a passrushing skillset. Wootton has 10.5 sacks over the past two seasons (compared to just 7 for Jackson). The major concern with Wootton is the hip surgery he had earlier in the month. He isn’t expected to return to football activities until right around the time that teams open training camps.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings

2. Matt Shaughnessy (Arizona Cardinals)

Shaughnessy is a player the Kansas City Chiefs are familiar with. He spent four years in the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders (from 2009-2012). He recorded 15.5 sacks during his Bay Area stay, before joining the Arizona Cardinals last season. Shaughnessy suffered a shoulder injury early in 2011 that caused him to miss that entire season. When he returned in 2012, it was clear that while he’d recovered enough to play, he hadn’t returned to form. He was better in 2013 and proved that he’s ready to play at a high level again in this league. Shaughnessy’s coming off of a one-year deal with the Cards and shouldn’t command heavy coin on the open market this year either.

3. Mike Neal (Green Bay Packers)

Neal is an intriguing option at defensive end for Kansas City. At just 27 years old, he’s still in the prime of his playing career. Last season, he cut nearly 20 pounds and was moved from end to outside linebacker. That versatility would be beneficial to this defense. He’s a bit like Chiefs’ rookie Mike Catapano in that he can stand up or play with a hand on the ground. Green Bay has more than a half-dozen notable players scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Neal won’t be a high priority on that list so there’s a good chance he’ll play for a new team in 2014. Injuries have been an issue in the past, but a healthy Mike Neal would prevent a big dropoff at defensive end (if Jackson defects).

Mike Neal

Inside Linebacker:

The ILB spot, next to Derrick Johnson, seems to be one that’s been unsettled for years now. The two most recent starters there are the late Jovan Belcher and his successor Akeem Jordan. The latter’s one of Kansas City’s pending free agents this offseason. Jordan was a serviceable option at the position, but I’m not sure he’s the answer. The Chiefs also have young Nico Johnson in the fold, but it remains to be seen if he can step in and play effectively in that role.

1. Brandon Spikes (New England Patriots)

Brandon Spikes is the kind of player the Chiefs could use in the middle of their defense. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s the highest-rated inside linebacker in run support two years running. Adding him to Kansas City’s linebacking corps would be a tremendous way to aid a defense that struggled all season with stopping the run. Spikes will be returning from a PCL injury in 2014. The good news is that it wasn’t grave enough to require surgery. Spikes had a consultation with Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles and he’s been told that the ligament should heal on its own. There was some controversy behind him being placed on injured-reserve. There’s been talk that Spikes didn’t consent to being placed on IR and that a missed practice may also have contributed to the team’s decision. Put a bookmark there because that may have sealed his departure from Foxboro.

Brandon Spikes

2. Akeem Jordan (Kansas City Chiefs)

The former Philadelphia Eagle joined the Chiefs as part of their free agent class just last year. Jordan had a respectable performance in 2013, registering 67 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. Unfortunately, he’s still just a middling player who doesn’t resolve the question the Chiefs have had at inside linebacker for a few years now. Jordan’s a liability in coverage so he’s limited in the number of downs he can play per defensive series. The Chiefs drafted Nico Johnson, who they hope is the answer to their prayers, but it’s still unknown if he can play effectively in the role. Despite his limitations, Akeem Jordan will be one of the most talented and affordable ILB’s available in March.

Free Safety:

Free safety is easily the most pressing need for the Chiefs’ defense in 2014. Of all of the pending free agents, I think Kendrick Lewis is the most likely not to return next season. His decline has been sharp and he might be the most maligned player in all of Chiefs Kingdom. Lewis was routinely out of position in 2013, lacks recovery speed, tackles poorly, and tends to take bad angles to the ballcarrier. Sanders Commings should return from his injury last year, but it’s tough to say how effective he’ll be until the real bullets start flying. Until such time, safety is another position where there will be lots of help available in free agency.

1. Jairus Byrd (Buffalo Bills)

Byrd will be one of the most highly sought after defensive players in all of free agency this offseason. He’s the crown jewel of coverage safeties in the National Football League. No safety has more interceptions since he was drafted in 2009 (22). In a shortened season in 2013, where he played only 11 games, he still had 4 interceptions. Byrd could become one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL in a few months. The Chiefs aren’t in any real position to win a bidding war for his services, but having him would turn a good defense into an elite defense. Byrd is as complete a safety in this league as you’ll find and next to Eric Berry would be a wet dream for members of the Kingdom.

Jarius-Byrd

2. Husain Abdullah (Kansas City Chiefs)

Abdullah rebounded well from a full year away from the NFL in 2012. He was unable to wrangle much playing time away from Kendrick Lewis, but still played well in spot duty. Abdullah’s twin interceptions of Andrew Luck were among a precious few defensive bright spots in the playoff loss to the Colts. The five-year player will be just 29 when the new season starts. He’ll be among the best low-risk, high-reward options on the market at free safety.

3. Quintin Demps (Kansas City Chiefs)

Quintin Demps was one of John Dorsey’s best free agent acquisitions in 2013. Demps lead all Chiefs’ defenders with four interceptions. His ball-hawking skills helped turn that unit into one of the most opportunistic in the league (their 21 interceptions were good for a share of third-highest total in the NFL). He was also valuable on special teams where he lead the team in kick return yardage. Demps is a versatile player who, like Abdullah, will be just 29 when the season opens. He was a major contributor to both units he was a part of in 2013 and would be a likely candidate to return to the team.

4. Mike Mitchell (Carolina Panthers)

Mike Mitchell is another player the organization knows from his playing days in Oakland. He’s a former second-round draft pick taken by the Raiders in the 2009 NFL Draft. In 2013, for the first time in his career, Mitchell became a full-time starter for the Carolina Panthers. There he posted his best season since turning pro (registering 67 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 passes defensed, and 4 interceptions). Mitchell doesn’t have the name value of a Jairus Byrd, but he’s similarly well rounded. He’s got a great combination of size and speed, is rangy, and provides solid run support. Mitchell will only be 27 years old when the Chiefs make their annual trek up to St. Joseph.

mike-mitchell-holmes-panthers

Our 2014 outlook on the Chiefs’ free agency picture is now complete. What quality football players were omitted from my lists? Are there any players I named that you’d prefer the Chiefs stay away from? Will the Chiefs be active or can we expect them to rely upon players already under contract? Use the comment section below to begin the discussion. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

Tags: Featured Kansas City Chiefs Popular

  • Chris Tarrants

    Abdullah IMO earned a spot on this team next year, he won’t require a big contract and can also shine on ST. He isn’t a big name player but he is a smart player. As far as Byrd is concerned that would instantly give us the best back end secondary in decades. If Dorsey could restructure a bunch of players then it could potentially happen but I would be ok if we resigned Abdullah and a FA WR and used the draft to snag a new safety who would be at rookie pay! Either way I can’t wait to find out what Dorsey has in store

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Dorsey’s made it sound like this team will have the freedom to do whatever is necessary in free agency. I’m guessing he’s planning to approach a few players about restructuring their deals. They might also gain a little space by extending Smith. I’d re-ink several of the role players to maintain the quality of depth we had in 2013. That would include Abdullah, Demps, and Zombo. I’d like to have Schwartz back, but he wants long-term security and a chance to start. I’m not sure we can give him both. Reid seems to prefer Allen at left guard. Asamoah’s too talented to be a backup on the other side. I think he’s going to be gone.

  • Ed

    If I was Dorsey (I know I am not lol), I would trade or cut Albert. This will allow me to get Byrd. We need a safety in the AFC west that can compete and Lewis is not performing. Fisher goes to LT. He has one year experience and we drafted him to be the LT. We need to get a nasty LB in the mold of DJ, Patrick Willis, Dmarco. Draft a CB and get a receiver in FA. Oh, yes, we cut the Tin Man. RT, put Steph, he played well and deserves a shot. I am ok if we replace Asamoh as one of our guards. Lastly, I dont want to hear from Michah that I forgot to consider drafting a QB. Yes Michah, Gino was good for the Jets but he would not have won 11 games for us this year. I am glad Sutton remains. He is a very good coach and I think this year provided him enough info to asses his needs for his defense. I am in Colorado and rooting for the Hawks to beat the Donkeys. Go Chiefs!!!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Tag-and-trades rarely happen in the NFL. They’d have to sign Albert to trade him. Once the new league year starts he won’t have a valid contract on the books.

    • Chris Tarrants

      Don’t need to cut tin man or Albert because they are free agents. I would love to see Albert back on this team next year though. It’s highly unlikely but if these guys go into a second year with mostly the same guys on the line with the same coaches at the helm I think they could be one of the better lines in football. Fisher came here instead of Joeckle for the simple fact that he has more upside which means he might be the best tackle in the league in a few years but not yet. He isn’t ready to be the left tackle yet but he will in a year or so. Also hindsight is always 20/20 but could you imagine our defense if we drafted Kiko Alonso #1 last year? Lights out would be the moniker of our defense

      • micah stephenson

        I like Albert. He is our best olinemen, but that cap number, we need that money.

        • Ed

          Agree. But also we drafted a LT last year. Some mentioned he needs another yeAr but I think moving back to LT will improve his game and development faster.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Kiko Alonso absolutely wrecked shop in 2013. Sky’s the limit for that kid.

    • micah stephenson

      Uh I’ve already said over and over again, that we are not in a good position to draft a QB this yr. We have a low pick so all the good QBs will b gone, we have no 2nd rd pick, low 3rd. I would trade this yrs 1st and a pc, for somebody’s 2nd this yr and 1st yr next yr, so I leave the option for next yr open. I’ve also said we would win more games with Alex over Geno this yr, its gone take this yrs QBs a lil longer to develop, its the up coming yrs I’m concerned about. Geno will get better, Alex is already as good as he is gone get, the only hope we have now is surrounding him with a lot of weapons (same stuff we use to say about Cassel). I like Sutton too. I don’t think he should b fired like some. He just needs a few pcs and a lil tweaking of the system.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        People keep saying that Smith can’t get any better and his numbers continue to improve. He’s already good enough to help you win 11 games and to have the best performance of the 2013 postseason tournament. How much better does he need to be?

  • Calchiefsfan

    The Chiefs are so close to going from good to great. Remember last year when all of us were saying all we needed was a good HC and a QB and we would be a good team? We were right. This year I think we are a free safety and a DC away from being a great team. It would be nice to be able to upgrade all those positions and maybe Dorsey will be able to work his magic but I don’t think it is imperative to becoming great.

    I’d love to get Byrd but I don’t think we have the $$ to do that. Mitchell looks like an excellent option. I like Spikes as well at ILB. DE prospects are, well, meh. Maybe we could draft someone in the 3rd. Though I am high on Cooper I would like to see us get more depth at CB.

    We fix this D, (and I think that starts with the DC), and we go from good to great.

    I would like to see someone do an analysis of how we ranked in the 2nd half of the season on D. I know in the 1st half of the season we were 1st in points allowed and 5th in yards allowed. I’d like to know how far we dropped off in the 2nd half of the season.

    • Michael Shaw

      Cal, there is nothing wrong with the DC. He can only call the plays, but it is up to the players to execute. I am dumbfounded at how lost our defense looked once players started going down. In the last San Diego game our 2nd and 3rd string players looked good, but when they had to come into the Indy game as backups to injured starters, they looked lost for whatever reason. One of the biggest culprits was Dunta, whom I thought initially at the beginning of the year was a great addition, but clearly his skills are diminishing farther than we all thought. We don’t need a DC, but I do agree that we need a quality safety opposite of Berry as the Kendrick Lewis experiment is done IMO and we need a pass rushing DL and a coverage ILB to make this defense as good as they appeared the first 9 games. We were 11-5 after going 2-14 the year before. Enjoy it, but realize that the holes that need to be filled on the is team are now a LOT smaller than they were the year before or even two or three years ago. If we add a safety, pass rushing DL, coverage LB and get our TE’s and OL healthy, whether Albert stays long term or we move on with Fisher, this team will be more dangerous next year to say the least than they were this year!!! Remember we lost our 5 games by 7.8 points per game. Meaning, if we improve the defense, we have a shot at being better than 11-5 next year!

      • Calchiefsfan

        I hear ya Mike and I agree with a lot that you’re saying but I’m having a real hard time getting around the fact that we have six pro bowlers on defense and yet we were one of the worst defenses in the league the last 8 games. We got worse instead of better! Sutton’s track record as a DC isn’t very encouraging. It appears that once opposing offenses figure out the weaknesses of Sutton it’s all over. Sutton makes adjustments, sure, just not very good ones.

  • thabear04

    It would be nice if we can land of these free agents but… We still need to sign Alex Smith and work with the low cap space we have.

  • berttheclock

    May I suggest Michael Bennett of the Seahawks for DE.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Good choice, but I think he’s going to get a big contract.

  • micah stephenson

    I don’t like any of the DEs, Id give Bailey a shot or draft a guy. At middle linebacker spikes is too slow plus that guy is on the less than 50 percent of the time so any o Jordan or belcher will work sinse we have 3 bowl linebackers out there with him. I’d say keep Jordan. At FS tho, if we could get Byrd, I’d b too happy. I know he will cost a lot but would b worth it.

  • war-painted-wolf

    Grab Angerer from the Colts for the 2nd ILB

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I considered him for my list, but he’s missed a LOT of time over the past two seasons. He’s only played 16 games once in four NFL seasons.

  • jimfromkcj

    Stacy, here’s my first choice when it comes to Albert and the off line. I would try to trade Albert to the Dolphins for their 2nd rd pick and trade Asamoah for John Jerry even up as a part of the deal. I had Jerry ahead of Asamoah in my mock in 2010 and I like big athletic road graders for the interior line. I doubt very seriously that we could get a first rd pick for Albert because of the money he thinks he deserves. We could make this trade and pick up some cap space to boot and we dearly need a second round pick, which will give us wiggle room for the 1st rd pick. I like an off line of LT Fisher at 306 lbs, LG Jerry at 335 lbs, C Kush at 313 lbs, RG Schartz at 340 lbs and RT Stevenson at 312. That averages out to about 321 lb average. My kind of line.

    • Jim Harper

      You forget that Albert is a FA and we cannot trade him unless he is under contract with the Chiefs. I think the franchise tag puts his cost too high making him difficult to trade

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Yep. He’s gone. You can’t tag him again. That would effectively have given him in two years what he would’ve gotten from a long-term contract. Only we wouldn’t own his long-term rights.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      We can’t trade Albert because he’s a free agent. He’d have to be signed first.

      • jimfromkcj

        It was my understanding that Albert and the Dolphins had agreed on money terms and the hold up was that the Chiefs wanted a rd 1 pick for him and the Dolphins offered a third rd pick. If that was true then, the Dolphins need a LT even more this year than last year, And trading Asamoah for Jerry would benefit both clubs, as Asamoah fits a zone blocking system and Jerry is more a power blocking guy. So that exchange would benefit both teams. We know that our coach always had power blocking off lines in Philly and I expect he is trying to build one here. Couldn’t we work with the dolphins and see what they would be willing to pay Albert and sign him and then trade him? At least that was how they were doing last year.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          The Chiefs would need a handshake agreement in place before they did that and I’m going to guess that would work out to some kind of collusion. You’d need assurance from Miami that they’d take him off of your hands and I just don’t think that’s permissible under league rules.

          • jimfromkcj

            They made some kind of an agreement last year and I believe that Albert even took a physical exam for the Dolphins. I can’t see any problem as long as all three subjects are in agreement. Collusion means an agreement is reached in secret or kept from a subject involved.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Last year, Albert was under contract.

          • cyberry

            No he wasn’t.. they put a franchise tag on him. They could do it again if they wish..

          • Stacy D. Smith

            That IS a contract. It’s just not a long-term deal. It guarantees you the player’s rights for that season. They’re not in a position to franchise him again. That would mean a 120% bump from the previous year’s salary. It would also mean we guaranteed him more than $20m in two years and still wouldn’t have long-term rights to him. That’s about 95% of what he would’ve gotten on an actual multi-year contract.

          • cyberry

            I didn’t explain myself.. I wouldn’t franchise him unless you are for sure Dolphins would make the trade.. It still wouldn’t shock me if he stays in KC..he just wanted a long term deal.. It was his agent ..that made the comments about being the highest paid lineman then Long didn’t get a “giant” contract from the Rams (probably because of injuries)..but Albert has missed several games the last couple of years.. Reid loves his lineman.. I just don’t think Fisher is close to moving to the LT..I wish Albert was around at least one more year.. Reid has made a couple of comments that he thought Stephenson would make a great guard..

  • freshmeat62

    I wouldn’t touch any of these FA’s – too expensive. All FA’s do is screw up your cap for later years. Seldom do they live up to their cost. I think Dorsey went overboard last year w/ signing FA’s, because he was trying to build a competitive team. This accomplished, I see him pulling way back in FAgncy and building almost entirely thru the draft from here on out. Oh he may pick up a little depth once in a while, but I doubt he does much more than that.

  • Michael Shaw

    Good article again Stacy. I think the Byrd run would make this team unstoppable. Everyone keep their ears open to the Donkeys websites. They will evaluate Peytons neck after the SB and I am guessing that if he wins against the damn sea-chickens, he will be done. Choosing to finish on top and not like other QB’s did…………here’s to hoping anyway!!!

  • DTVTechGuy

    Byrd and Spikes would be an invasion…. Defense would be unstoppable…