Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Donnie Avery (17) is unable to catch this pass while defended by Denver Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster (36) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Denver won the game 35-28. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Need Production, Not Flash, In Free Agency

Who would you rather have on the Chiefs next season?

Player A

118 targets, 57.6 catch percentage, 7.6 drop percentage, 4.2 yards after catch average, -6.5% DVOA

Player B

71 targets, 74.6 catch percentage, no drops, 3.3 yards after catch average, +6.8% DVOA

Which player would you rather have on your team the next season?

Context means something, of course. What is the health situation of both players? What scheme was being run? Who were the quarterbacks? How much is each player going to cost? All of these questions and more are very valid so let’s assume all things are equal. Just looking at the raw numbers, which receiver would you rather have?

I’ll let this simmer for a minute while we consider something about the Chiefs’ current wide receiver situation. In short, it is not very good. Dwayne Bowe is by far the best wide receiver on the team and everyone knows it, which is why it is difficult to get him open down in downfield situations.

Donnie Avery is, frankly, “a guy.” His 56.2% catch rate last season was the best of his career. He’ll turn 30 this summer, cannot consistently catch passes thrown to him, and was dumped by the Indianapolis Colts only to be replace by the dreadful Darrius Heyward-Bey. Nothing says “you’re just a guy” than if an NFL team would rather have Heyward-Bey over you to be their third receiver.

Dexter McCluster is gone to free agency, so this gets us to A.J. Jenkins and Junior Hemingway. The two have combine to be on an NFL roster for four seasons and have caught 24 total passes in 556 snaps. Do the two have upside? Yes. However, if the Chiefs are counting on them for starter-level production in 2014 then the Chiefs are screwed. Neither has shown the ability to carry the load, and as things stand now Jenkins and Hemingway would be the team’s second and third wide receiver if Bowe were to be injured.

Let’s put it this way – Chad Hall got snaps on this team last year. CHAD HALL!

We already knew the Chiefs had a need at wide receiver, of course, because there have been several fans clamoring for the team to take a wide receiver in May’s draft. It makes sense. Most mock drafts have the Chiefs leaning wide receiver with their first round pick. The need is obvious.

The problem is, no matter who the Chiefs take at wide receiver in the draft, it isn’t going to solve the Chiefs immediate problem at wide receiver. There has to be a guy on the other end side of Bowe to attract attention. We know Avery cannot fill that role and to leave that responsibility in the hands of a rookie, Hemingway, and Jenkins seems like a bad idea.

Kansas City absolutely has to find a veteran guy who can be productive.

This is what gets us back to the question above, Player A or Player B. Or as they are better known, the 2012 versions of Jeremy Maclin (Player A) and Jason Avant (Player B).

Avant is not a flashy guy, but the dude gets things done. He finds open space, makes the plays in front of him, and opens things up for the rest of the offense. There is an added bonus of him already knowing the offense and his presence in the locker room. It makes far too much sense to add Avant if he is available.

The problem with signing Avant to some fans is he is not a flashy guy. He doesn’t have the same highlight reel as Maclin or DeSean Jackson because his role in the offense wasn’t to be the big play guy. Reality is he’s been one of the more productive receivers in the NFL over his career. In 2012, the last year both Maclin and Avant played in Reid’s system, Avant ranked as the 28th best receiver in the NFL according to Football Outsiders while Maclin couldn’t crack the top 50. Maclin had the better counting stats in terms of yards, touchdowns, and things that make you go “Wow!” but his total value was below average. Avant fills a production role the Chiefs desperately need to have filled.

Yes, the Chiefs still need a playmaker at wide receiver, but that playmaker is not going to be found in free agency. Kansas City has too many needs and not enough cap space to spend millions on one of the top free agent receivers. It makes more sense for the Chiefs to find their future star in the draft and find a glue guy like Avant in free agency.

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  • Nobody

    The thought of J. Avant being the solution is enough to make me LOL! He’s 31 and slow like molasses. We need someone to stretch the field and catch more than 2 TD’s per season.

    • Ben Nielsen

      Dude runs a 4.4 40. Not sure how that’s “slow as molasses.”

      • berttheclock

        Yes, he had some speed in both HS and at Michigan. However, even the scouting reports on him prior to the 2006 draft spoke of him “being more of a possession receiver and not a deep threat”. He is very religious and a decent human being, but, his speed has diminished as he has grown oldee.

        • Ben Nielsen

          I’ll take his production. Having the speedy Avery (4.27 40 as a rookie) didn’t do much for us last year.

          • berttheclock

            Yes, Avery has speed. But, those early injuries in St Louis, then, having to spend a year of rehab before trying to start over with the Titans, took an effect on his concentration. That is what hurt him with the Colts. The trainers and coaches can tell you that you have healed, but, your mind keeps remembering all of that pain and suffering. He has never been the same as when he first flew for the Rams.

      • Tristian

        Where is that 4.4? Turn on the tape and me and everyone else sees 4.6 or 4.7

  • mnelson52

    I’m for waiting till we are closer to March 11th to see who else is released, or look for some type of trade.

  • berttheclock

    Avant only gained 73 yards after catching 38 passes, in 2013. He was 4th on the team for gaining first downs. He caught 38 passes, but, he was targeted 76 times.

    You have lumped Jenkins with Hemingway for the 24 passes. Hemingway caught 16, while, Jenkins caught 8. However, Jenkins came to the Chiefs with a very low confidence level and did not catch a pass until the 19th of September, when, he caught his first pass as a Chiefs player against the Eagles. That was only for six yards. He did not have a pass thrown to him until late in November, when, he caught one for 22 against the Bolts. The next week, against the Broncos, he caught 3 out of 4 targets for 35 yards. Then, in the last game of the season, against the Bolts, he caught 3 for 67. He improved throughout the season. There is a big difference between the speedy Jenkins and the slower Hemingway, who fits more of a Bowe mold.

    • Ben Nielsen

      If you want to count on the guy with eight career catches in two seasons to be your number two receiver then okay.

      • berttheclock

        No, I am counting not living in the past. I believe his work with Alex Smith has brought life into his career and he is on an upward slant. I really do not care what transpired in the Bay. He was shoved far too quickly into trying to live up that 1st round pick by Baalke and he was thrown to the wolves. In KC, he has had time to bring his Illinois days into being, once again. BTW, Ben, I have been the one touting Brandin Cooks for over a month at this site. That is who I would to see play opposite Bowe with Jenkins as his backup.

        • Ben Nielsen

          The past matters. Kansas City needs a guy who can be a productive number two receiver now. Who knows when or if Jenkins will ever get there no matter how hard he works. Same goes for with Cooks (whom I also like) if the Chiefs draft him, there is no promise he’ll be good now or ever. Cooks and Jenkins will be in a much better position to succeed with a guy like Avant on the roster.

          • berttheclock

            Thanks, Ben for the “toe to toe” this morning.

        • kcndaock

          Jenkins needed to find a different home. He came to kc and got better throughout the season next year Culley will have him up to speed I would bet he has a breakout year. Hemingway dropped the ball against the dolts when he was switching the football around in his arms. Hemingway I will say has been a good 7th round pick he’s held onto his soot every year and night just be a slow learner. Jenkins went in the 1st for a reason.

  • Nobody

    I’m not sure why we would even talk about a guy who has ave. 2.3 catches per game and 0.1 TD’s a game for the last 8 seasons.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Jason Avant is the textbook definition of “just a guy.” 13 starts, 447 receiving yards. Caught just over 2 passes per game in Philadelphia last year. He’s efficient, but we need a difference-maker. A Hakeem Nicks or Emmanuel Sanders. Neither of them are going to command top dollar on the open market.

    • Tristian

      Stacy I knew ben would be the one to write this article. Im sorry but if you think Maclin is flash then you are a complete idiot. I completely agree with you that Avant at his BEST is a number 3 who has great hands but dosent get open reliably enough to warrant me actually running plays in the offense for him. Thats the problem. If I cant run plays for him then he is “just a guy”. Who by the way has no special teams value so why sign him

      • Ben Nielsen

        I’d like to think I’m an incomplete idiot.

        • Tristian

          Not at all. Everyone has an opinion its just some of you guys keep beating dead horses with the Kelvin Benjamin and Jason Avants. You guys dont need to write articles when we’ve told you we dont want those guys in articles that wasnt even about those guys. No matter how many stats PFF tells you it doesn’t matter. Im not a my way or the highway guy but those 2 guys are definitely on my “do NOT acquire” list. Everyone else im open to

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I think Ben is simply advocating prudent free agent spending. A philosophy that values production over name value. That’s a concept I think we can all get our hands around.

        • Nobody

          I don’t think being frugal is as important as locking in the impact guys. We have a little room and we need to be aggressive with it. If there’s a hole…..someone needs to step fuq up. Spend the money and go get the best we can with what we have!

          • Stacy D. Smith

            I don’t think we should necessarily be frugal either, but I do think we should be careful how we obtain the wide receiver talent. We need an upgrade. I don’t think Avant’s an upgrade. Not over any of the team’s top three receivers.

          • Nobody

            Personally, I love the idea of drafting a guy and plugging him in on day one at WR and concentrate our money into Smith, O-line and secondary.

          • Ben Nielsen

            What’s the plan if that guy turns into Jon Baldwin?

          • Nobody

            The depth is there at WR this year unlike most. When the chips are short it’s the right time to gamble.

  • Calchiefsfan

    I just don’t see Avant as being enough of an upgrade if any at all. More players will be available as we get closer to March 11th. I’m hoping that Dorsey finds the Geoff Schwartz of wide receivers somewhere in the FA market.

  • Rich Cooper

    A big fat “NO” on Avant. There is no way Dorsey is bringing this guy in to be our number 2 wr. I’d rather stand pat than follow this plan. I just hope we bring in someone that can both get open and catch. Also given the wr talent in this Draft we need to Draft 2 wrs. I’m sick of this team settling for plodding retreads at wr.

  • Ben Nielsen

    So all of you are on-board with signing Avant? That’s what you’re all saying, right? Okay, good. Glad to get this all cleared up.

  • Bigtexjayhawk

    Idk if Jason Avant is better than say Junior Hemingway. I do know I have seen him make a lot of big catches for Philly. For the right price sign him up!! I would love to see a 5 wr set with Bowe and Avant working the seams and Jenkins and Beckham Jr going deep with Avery dragging. It is imperative we get younger and faster at WR but you still need guys like Avant hopefully a poor mans Boldin to make catches and move the chains. This is a great year to draft one with our first pick and grab another one later. Who knows also an undrafted FA too.