The Kansas City Chiefs Top Free Agent Targets Should Be In House

ArmchairAddict1

As I sat down to write my weekly piece I considered writing about the Super Bowl…..for about two seconds. Then I realized that you can read about who won (not Denver), the best plays (all by Seattle), and the best commercials (Radio Shack?) in about 100 different places this morning (check out Fansided.com for all the coverage you could ever need), but you don’t come to AA for Super Bowl rehashing. You come to AA to read and talk Chiefs. So let’s do it.

The past three weeks I’ve tried to help give you an idea of KC’s salary cap situation and some free agent targets at two of KC’s biggest positions of need. If you missed any of those posts, you can check them out at the links below.

The Kansas City Chiefs Salary Cap Options

Kansas City Chiefs FA Targets: Jeremy Maclin vs. Golden Tate

Kansas City Chiefs Free Agent Safety Targets

This week’s piece is going to build off the overall theme of those pieces. In simplest terms, the Chiefs DO NOT have much money to be big players in NFL free agency. They will have to make cuts and restructure some big contracts just to sign their draft picks, re-sign any in house guys they want, and maybe sign a second tier free agent or two. KC fans that have their hopes for next season resting on some huge name, big splash, high dollar free agents coming to town are going to be sorely disappointed. If I can mention the Super Bowl once more, it would be to point out how Seattle built the best team in the NFL, by winning the draft and with bargain free agents.

That’s why I think the most important thing for KC to do this offseason is to re-sign some key in-house free agents before they hit the open market.

At this point you’re probably thinking of guys like Branden Albert, Tyson Jackson, and Dexter McCluster.

No, no, and no.

Look, I don’t dislike any of those guys and would love to have all of them back if they were to come back at a discount that wouldn’t hurt KC’s already sticky cap situation. However, there are three Chiefs that played well last season that could all be brought back at prices that are in KC’s budget. These aren’t flashy players. They aren’t household names. They aren’t guys that are going to make anyone say “This guy is going to put KC over the top next season!”.

Newsflash: Winning teams don’t have Pro Bowlers at all 22 starting spots.

Yes, you need big time playmakers on your team, as many as possible. Equally valuable are solid starters and role players that don’t hurt your team, but come at a decent price so that you have more money to spend on star players. That is exactly who I believe these players are. Starting with:

Geoff Schwartz – Offensive Guard

Schwartz is an NFL journeyman with stops in Carolina and Minnesota before landing in Kansas City last season. He started out the season behind starters Jon Asamoah and Jeff Allen, but eventually got some playing time due to injuries and played well enough that he stuck in the starting lineup and sent Asamoah to the bench.

At this point I’m going to take a time out on talking about Schwartz to mention that I’m going to once again use these players’ ratings by Pro Football Focus. The good people at Pro Football Focus take the time to grade every single player on every single play and assign them a score based on what they see. I don’t always agree with them and I certainly don’t think that their ratings define a player. However, it is a snapshot into their play. Players that are clearly struggling always have negative scores (Kendrick Lewis, -2.8) and great players always have positive scores (Jamaal Charles, 22.4). You get the idea. Now back to Schwartz.

Despite playing less snaps than either Asamoah or Allen, Schwartz still totaled the highest score of any KC guard at 15.2. For comparison, Asamoah finished with a score of 7.9 and Allen with a pathetic -12.0 (sigh). Not only was Schwartz’s score the best of KC’s guards, it was the best score of any of their offensive linemen. Brandon Albert was second with a 10.0. Schwartz ended the season as Pro Football Focus’s number eight ranked guard in the entire NFL, scoring better than perennial Pro Bowlers like Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda, Jahri Evans, and Logan Mankins. Now, do I think that Schwartz is the 8th best guard in the NFL and better than the four players I just listed? No, this is an example of where I think PFF sometimes falls short of really capturing a player’s ability. However, it does show that Schwartz is clearly a good starting NFL guard. He shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to sign and KC would be foolish to let him go when they don’t have anyone on the roster to fill that spot since Asamoah is also a free agent.

Re-signing Geoff Schwartz should probably be KC’s top priority at this point.

Next up…….

Akeem Jordan – Inside Linebacker

Akeem Jordan followed Andy Reid to Kansas City from the Philadelphia Eagles. He was basically a place holder to fill the starting spot left vacant by Jovan Belcher until rookie Nico Johnson was ready to start. However, Nico never stepped up and Jordan actually did a very good job of playing the two-down, run stopping, base defense inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson. Is Jordan an elite player? No. Is he good enough in coverage to stay on the field in the sub package? No. Does that mean he shouldn’t be brought back? No.

Once again, while it would be nice to have another Pro Bowler in the linebacking core, they already have THREE in Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Derrick Johnson. Houston is going to need a new contract soon, so having a cheap run stuffer as the fourth man is fine as long as he does what KC asks him to do well.

So did Jordan do a good job of filling that role last season?

The people at PFF sure think so. Jordan finished the season with a score of 4.5. While that doesn’t sound all that high, it was good enough for 11th overall in NFL ILBs (DJ was third with a 15.4). There were 35 ILBs that ended last season with a negative rating for 2013. While Akeem Jordan wasn’t a super star he didn’t hurt KC. He filled the role they asked him to play. In fact, he finished tied for 5th in the NFL in PFF’s run stopping points for ILBs. Akeem Jordan could be brought back cheap and fills a need on the KC defense. John Dorsey would be wise to bring him back for another season until they find a long term replacement.

Finally we have……

Husain Abdullah – Safety

Husain Abdullah came to Kansas City after having taken a year off to take a pilgrimage to Mecca. Before that he was a former undrafted player for the Minnesota Vikings who eventually earned a starting spot for the Vikings in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In 2010 Abdullah finished as PFF’s 18th rated safety and in 2011 he finished 25th. If you think about each team having two starters, that makes 64 starting safeties. So finishing 18th and 25th puts him in the top half of starters in the NFL (Kendrick Lewis finished 52nd last season).

Last season, Abdullah was credited with 240 snaps at safety with a PFF rating of 1.7 and 52 snaps at CB (he played some nickel corner in the sub package) with a rating of 1.2. That overall grade of 2.9 was higher than the grades of Kendrick Lewis (-2.8), Quentin Demps (-4.4), Sean Smith (0.9), Dunta Robinson (-5.3), Marcus Cooper (-3.0), and Brandon Flowers (-5.9). Should Abdullah be signed to a long term contract and handed the starting FS job? No, but he is a proven NFL player with starting experience who did more with his limited snaps than most other KC DBs. Once again, his price should be very reasonable and the fact that he’s versatile and a great special teams contributor makes this re-signing even more of a no brainer.

So there you have it Addicts, the players that the cap strapped Kansas City Chiefs should be targeting as the NFL offseason officially kicks off. They may not be flashy or exciting, but when you are trying to build a winner without much cap space finding (and keeping) quality players that don’t cost big dollars is the name of the game. As I see it, John Dorsey’s job this offseason is keeping these players, drafting guys that can help this team right away, and finding more under the radar guys like Schwartz, Jordan, Abdullah, Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, and Sean McGrath. So while other fans scream at the top of their lungs about giving Branden Albert as much money as he wants and winning a bidding war for Jarius Byrd you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to understand that KC’s free agent approach may not make headlines, but is exactly the right approach for John Dorsey and Andy Reid to take.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

Topics: Akeem Jordan, Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Erik Hild

    The Chiefs need to draft a WR and look to get a FS in free agency or the other way around but those are the most glaring needs. I trust John Dorsey and Andy Reid will make the right decision

  • berttheclock

    Radio Shack??? What do you have against puppies and horses, Lyle?

    Completely agree with your three players. First, the Chiefs need “May the Schwartz be with the Chiefs” to solidify offensive line play. Both Jordan and Abdullah add solid depth to the defensive unit.

    However, the most glaring needs of the Chiefs were shown by what Schneider has done in Seattle. That is to build a great defensive unit, both in pass rushing ability and a tremendous defensive backfield of players who can stay with receivers and hit solidly. Defense cost us the Indy game. Yes, we really need a wide out with great speed, who can gain separation and fly, plus, catch the dang ball, but, rebuilding the defense should be paramount. Following the Green Bay method by Wolf and Thompson and reviewing what Schneider has done in Seattle, I believe Dorsey will be very selective in Free Agency, but, really hit the draft and the UDFAs to pick up needed quality. I await the next three months eagerly. First, begin by signing the excellent slot receiver from Canada, then, March and Free Agency, both in and out of house should be very interesting, and onward to the Combines and the many Pro Days. Clark Hunt picked the best man in John Dorsey to put quality players on the field for Andy Reid. Interesting comparing Seattle with the Chiefs. John Schneider and Pete Carroll were chosen by Paul Allen nearly at the same moment to change the direction of the Seahawks. Clark Hunt did a very similar thing in bringing in both Reid and Dorsey. The gloom and doom temporary period of early January has faded. The future for the Chiefs looks very bright.

    • berttheclock

      Dorsey may well be on his way to rebuilding the defensive backfield. Over at the Star, Paylor kept mentioning the fact it appeared the Chiefs’ management spoke with every large defensive back at the Senior Bowl practices.

  • berttheclock

    Just one aside to this. One of the first things for Mr Dorsey is to work out an equitable extension for Alex Smith. There was an article at sfgate last week which said both Kaepernick and his agent are eagerly awaiting the results of the Smith extension, as it will add fuel to arguments and, possibly, set the bar for an extension for Kaepernick.

    • micah stephenson

      I think we should wait and see what Alex looks like next yr before extending him. If he looks like he ain’t gone be the long term answer, they let him go, if he looks like he will b the answer then they pay him.

      • Luke Seidl

        This could make him more expensive, and he played well enough this year to show he can be the long term answer.

        • micah stephenson

          I don’t think waiting till mid season so we can see how he is doing with the added pcs/2nd yr in the same system over signing him now, will make that big of difference in his price. Now if we won the superbowl and he hit free agentcy that would cost us a lot more to keep him, but at least at that point he earned whatever he gets from us.

          • area

            I understand wanting to wait and see what as11 does in year 2 of this offense, but dude was spot on the entire second half of the season. Absolutely no veteran qb or rookie qb is going to come in and supplant him in the solstice of half of our play makers careers. I also cannot think of a qb that I would want mentoring a qbotf more than smith at this point, I hate the idea of a gunslinger at qb, MOAR Alex.

  • tm1946

    As in most things you have to follow the money. I would have no problem if the Chiefs took Lyle suggestions as a viable plan. Then, what do you do with those who will get more money with extentions? Do you pray Bowe decides to be a factor next season? Do you start balancing money against production and age of current roster players. How you going to feel if the Chiefs start dumping salaries and players of past “favorite” players?

    So many factors and Dorsey has to get positive results, last years draft sort of went thunk and free agency has some clear misses, overpaid misses.

    As the new season starts, follow the long green and you may get a idea about the plan.

    • berttheclock

      Strange how injuries can turn into “thunks”, eh?

      However, one thing I appreciate about the work of Dorsey is he appears to follow in the footsteps of John Schneider and is very close to the work of Trent Baalke of the Niners. What I really appreciate about their collective work is they don’t fall asleep in scouting the lower portions of the draft. The Seahawks and the Niners are built on quality lower round draft picks who do not eat up the cap. Look at the seventh pick, this year of the defensive tackle for the Chiefs. He stuck with the club, came off the bench to add needed depth and his cost is very low. Hard to imagine the MVP of this year’s Super Bowl winner was a very low 7th round draft pick in 2011. Malcolm Smith was not even invited to any Combine. Of course, Pete Carroll had been his college coach in 2009, but, it does show the importance of doing home work. Also, consider the move by Schneider to obtain Chancellor near the top of the 5th round. The Seahawks did not have a draft pick that high, but, they wanted Chancellor, so, when hearing Detroit needed an offensive guard, Schneider worked a trade with Detroit and picked Chancellor, three picks ahead of Kendrick Lewis. That O-guard ended up starting with Detroit. It is really incredible how much money both the Niners and Seahawks have saved on cap room by finding quality in the lower rounds and with UDFAs. With some of the lower picks by Dorsey in the process of healing, this looks as though this will become the wave of the future for the Chiefs.

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

    Lyle:

    It is a reasonable, realistic approach to the off-season.

  • micah stephenson

    I love it!!!! I totally agree with wat you said about all 3 players and I like how you used ppf to point out some things. Ida had Asomoah on the list too, I’d rather have him and Swartz as the starters and move J.Allen to back up.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Good work, Graversen! I agree on all of the players you named in your piece. I think we have to be prepared to make Schwartz the starter to bring him back though. He wants stability.

    I’d also add Zombo and Demps’ names to this list.
    If McCluster’s going to be gone, we need to keep some continuity in the return game.

  • berttheclock

    One comment by Troy Aikman, last night, struck me. He said he had talked at length with John Schneider and came away with the understanding Schneider knows exactly what type of player he wants for every position on the team. I believe John Dorsey has learned the same philosophy, as well. Another thing about what they learned from both Wolf and Thompson is not to rest on personal egos. If any player does not work out, either through the draft or by FAcy, then, they will cut them and find someone else. This past season, Dorsey had to hit running and had to rebuild the team. Perhaps, he missed at times due to having little time to accomplish some of the needed pickups, but, do not let you try to stamp him by any perceived misses. There will be movement this off season and it will continue into September. Many U-hauls will be moving about in the area.

  • Chris Tarrants

    It’s should be interesting to see how everything unfolds but I have a feeling that Dorsey has a plan and that we are going to have more cap space and a better FA/draft splash than people are claiming. I could be wrong but I just have a feeling! There is space to be made, and it isn’t the big name guys who usaually make a big difference, except for maybe Harvin because that dude lit it up last night but its usually guys like Cooper that define an offseason.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Absolutely sign those guys Lyle! They were great additions last year that the Chiefs got a lot of bang for their buck, Schwartz was an especially good deal. I know everyone is focusing on free safety and wide receiver, (which we definitely need), but the O line should also be a concern. The Chiefs offense didn’t start rolling until the O line started gelling. If we lose Albert, which it looks like, that is going to create a very large hole on the line. Neither Stephenson or Fisher are up to the task yet so we’re definitely going to need to keep Schwartz to maintain some consistency and quality going into next season. I agree with Micah, put Allen on the bench and have Asamoah and Schwartz starting. Then we need to do something about improving OT depth. I think we’ll see Fisher go through Poe like growth in his second year but I’m not confident he’s ready to start at LT quite yet.

    • micah stephenson

      I think both Stephenson and Fisher ARE ready and BETTER b ready. We can’t afford to keep Albert so they BETTER GET ready if they ain’t, cus they are playing next yr. I don’t care who plays left or right, even tho fish was drafted 1st overall, I just want the best 5. If that means Fish plays RT, and DS plays LT, then so be it. If they need to switch sides, thats cool. Financially we can’t afford to keep Albert, but can afford both guards. Competitively we can’t afford to lose our guards.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Agreed. With all the playing time that Stephenson got it due to injuries it showed that if we lose Albert we are going to need to pick up another quality tackle. We need three to keep our o line playing at a high level. I’ve seen enough bad o line play with the Chiefs to know that if our line sucks the whole offense sucks, (except for maybe Charles).

  • sidibeke

    I’m not sold on Jordan. We need better coverage from the ILB position. I agree about Abdullah, though, and was wondering why he and Parker didn’t get some snaps against Indy when the wheels were falling off given how well they played at SD.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Here’s the thing though, Jordan graded out so well because KC never really used him in coverage. Would it be nice to have that versatility available if you needed it? Sure, but if the guy is coming out in the sub package anyway it doesn’t matter. He’s proven to be a great run stopper and if that’s all you need from that spot then save some money.

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