Chiefs Free Agency Activities

1 Feature From The Bleachers

A month ago when John Dorsey said the Chiefs won’t be “active” in free agency, he clearly did not say, “Won’t be active at all.”

I think the Chiefs will be plenty active based on last year’s behavior.

In an article called, “Alex Smith And Eric Berry Hold The Key To The Offseason,” Ben Nielsen said yesterday,

“With a the cap now at $133 million there is no need to think about cutting anyone from the roster for cap purposes. And… it makes some sense for the Chiefs to be active in free agency.”

Most Chiefs fans keeping score this offseason will say they assume that the game changed when the league announced the cap limit was $133 million last Friday. Not only that but, as Mr. Nielsen is suggesting, by re-working contracts for Alex Smith and Eric Berry the door for more free agents opens even wider,

“Knowing that the salary cap will be over $140 million next season, the extra room Berry’s contract was going to provide is 2015 is not quite as needed. Finding a way to flip the $3.5 million (if not more) to next season may be in the Chiefs’ best interest. Should the Chiefs be able to save $6.5 million between Berry and Smith for 2014, they’ll be able to use their $16.5 million in cap space ($11 million in free agency room)….”

When looking back at last year’s offseason haul its’ rather evident that the Chiefs will have a lot of visitors into Arrowhead and some won’t be leaving. If last offseason taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.

It also taught us that if you leave 10-12 million in cap space laying around… someone’s going shopping for shoes.

Andy Reid also said this about free agency just two weeks ago, “Free agency can be a bit of a tease at times, and I think you have to be real careful.”

Being “real careful” and… “not being active at all”… are two vastly different beasts. With that being said, who are the beauties the Chiefs will dance with at the free agency ball?

It’s a good bet they won’t be reaching out to anyone but their own free agents this week and next. The great intangible is not knowing what’s inside each heart of the Chiefs free agents.

  • If you’re Branden Albert, are you wanting the big payday that takes you from $9.828 mil per year to $11,$12 or $13 million?

  • If you’re Jon Asamoah, are you wanting to multiply your $1.3 million per year by 2 to 4 times?

  • If you’re Geoff Schwartz, are you wanting to take your 630,000 per, and multiply it by 5 or 6 times?

  • If you’re Abdullah Hussain, are you wanting to improve on your $715,000?

  • If you’re Akeem Jordan, are you wanting to improve on your $715,000?

  • If you’re Quintin Demps, are you wanting more than $715,000?

  • If you’re Tyson jackson, are you wanting a bigger payday than the 4.2 million you settled for in 2013?

  • If you’re Dexter McCluster, are you wanting to see what that feeling is all about when those big boys are talking about signing a huge contract?

The big question in each of these cases is: what are they wanting?

In the case of Branden Albert, the sides appear to be too far apart and the players in house who could replace him are better than the players who could replace any of the other Chiefs free agents. Prediction: Albert walks and the Chiefs pick up a third round pick in next years draft because of it.

In the case Jon Asamoah, working for 4 years on the same line with Branden Albert and making approximately 1/10th of his salary, it’s a good bet he’s looking for a bigger payday. Prediction: Asamoah seeks a bigger payday elsewhere.

In the case of Geoff Schwartz, he’s said he wants to be a starter and receive a starters paycheck. You can never undervalue that his brother Mitchell is starting for the Browns and signed a 4 year 5.17 million dollar contract in 2012. It’s a good bet Geoff will want to equal the $1.3 per year his brother makes. Prediction: the Chiefs find it’s not only doable to sign Schwartz but necessary since Asamoah has probably jumped ship.

In the case of Abdullah Hussain, since Reid took a chance on him and helped him make his first steps back into the league, I believe he’ll express that loyalty by accepting a contract from the Chiefs. Prediction: Hussain signs with the Chiefs to compete for the Free Safety position with Sanders Commings… and to help tutor him.

In the case of Akeem Jordan, he’s someone who’s a weak link in the defensive line-up. Including his 68 tackles (his career best) last year he now has a total of 213 total tackles for his 7 year career. By comparison, San Diego rookie Manti Teo, who only played in 13 games in 2013, had 61 tackles. Prediction: when Reid and Dorsey sat down to make an offseason “plan” it’s hard to see how Jordan was a part of it. They only signed him to a one-year deal last year for a reason. The reason is obvious now. No more Jordan. Please.

In the case of Quintin Demps, Andy Reid drafted him in the 4th round of the 2008 draft. He’s also played for the Hartford Colonials and the Houston Texans so he’s used to playing elsewhere and being out from under Andy’s wing. Loyalty? Yes but, Demps had a very good year as a returner and may seek to find his max value on the open market. Then again, he may realize that special teams coach dave Toub had a lot to do with that too. Prediction: Demps has had a revolving door career so far and I’ll list him as an undecided pon on the chess board. However, I do believe the Chiefs will attempt to re-sign him if possible.

In the case of Tyson Jackson, like Glenn Dorsey and any underachieving player who was a first round pick, he’s done in K.C.. Prediction: Since he did have his best year, Jackson should be able to get a contract as good, or better, than he got from K.C. last season. If that’s the case, I don’t think the Chiefs would be willing to make him an offer like that. I understand now that the two sides have talked. We’ll see if talk is cheap. It better be for the Chiefs sake.

In the case of Dexter McCluster, his intended replacement was signed (probably) from the Canadian league a month ago in Weston Dressler. Dressler may not be the replacement but he may be the bargaining chip the Chiefs need to keep a contract with Dex in the ballpark.  Prediction: McCluster receives an offer he can’t refuse and it’s not from the Chiefs.

~ ~ ~

As Ben Nielsen pointed out in his report on the salary cap being set for 2014, the Chiefs will now have around $11 million worth of “free agency” money to work with this off season.

Assuming they complete deals to re-work Alex Smith and Eric Berry’s contracts and… to re-sign Justin Houston and re-sign Schwartz, Hussain and possibly Demps, they should have half the $11 million left. This also assumes, Smith, Berry, Houston and Schwartz are all signed to deals where the bulk of their contracts are paid out in 2015 and 2016 (when the cap space is much larger and the Chiefs will have many fewer players committed to contracts). Plus, re-working Smith and Berry gives the Chiefs more cap room this year.

So, who might the Chiefs take in free agency… if… if… if the above scenario plays out?

The needs list would look like this at that point:

1) A #2 WR is still needed. Can that player be had on the open market for the price the Chiefs would pay if they drafted him? Hard to say but I’m leaning towards the draft to find that long awaited el numero dos.

2) An offensive lineman. If both Albert and Asamoah would be gone and the OL line-up could look like this: LT Stephenson, LT Allen, C Hudson, RG Schwartz, RT Fisher (or you can switch the tackles). I’m convinced Allen is not going to be a long term answer (he’s by far Kansas City’s worst lineman) and if there’s a Guard on the market… like Schwartz was last year… the Chiefs will pick him up. Then again, they may give Rishaw Johnson or Rokevious Watkins a shot.

3) A middle linebacker would be a need here too but not a must. There are several good options not only in the draft but, in the event they find no one, I believe they’re willing to give Nico Johnson a go on 1st and 2nd downs and then focus on bringing in more DB help for 3rd downs and passing situations.

I reviewed the list of available DB free agents but didn’t find one I fancy. If you’d like to take a look and share your pick go here.

Also, if you’re into the idea of the Chiefs manipulating the cap so they can  sign S Jairus Byrd, please click here to read Ben Nielsen’s article because I won’t be getting into that here either.

So, to re-cap, the Chiefs could be looking for a WR2, a Guard/OL and possibly a linebacker in free agency.

So, let’s take a look at who they may be focusing on given the idea that they won’t be first week players. The following rankings are from Rotoworld.com so if you want to take issue with that see them.

Wide Receivers

Special note: names in red have already re-signed.

It may take a couple of weeks before the teams willing to dabble big chunks of their cap in free agency have run out of resources. That’s exactly when the Chiefs should step in because free agents, and their agents, will have come to the realization they’re going to have to settle for what teams are offering instead of the big bucks they originally went into free agency attempting to scavenge.

Jason Seibel’s post a week ago called “Chiefs Free Agent Watch 2014: Santonio Holmes to Fill Need In Kansas City?” outlines the case for Holmes. I’ll add that Santonio Holmes has been rookie of the year (2006) and Super Bowl MVP (SB XLIII) which means he knows how to win and win on the biggest stage of all. Holmes shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg at this point in his career and that’s partly due to the unfortunate circumstance of having possibly the two worst QBs in the league throwing him the ball for the past three years (Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith). Santonio Holmes should also be a positive locker room influence too since he knows what it takes to win a championship.

Jerome Simpson is plutonium. He has had problems with drugs and marijuana and the league may yet decide to suspend him based on the outcome of ongoing police investigations. However, Simpson is the type of troubled player that coach Andy Reid has reached out to before (Vick, Owens) and if he does… and if Simpson doesn’t return to the Vikings… he could find himself easily taking over the #2 wide receiver position for the Chiefs. You may remember Simpson doing a front-flip at the goal line over Arizona Cardinal LB Daryl Washington in order to score a TD. It turned out to be the “Play of the Year” for many sporting publications. Simpson was a track guy in college and brings incredible athleticism to the WR position and could be a super asset… as long as his whacked out days are behind him.

Josh Morgan was a WR who may have been in Mike Shanahan’s dog house late last season. I’m not a Shanahan fan so anyone who ends up in his dog house is someone to consider. Morgan only had 20 catches last year but has 199 for his career and is capable of much more. At the age of 28 he has a number of good seasons left on his resume. Morgan is 6-0 and 219 with 4.4 speed, and it’s likely someone will give him a look.

Tackles

26 year old Charles Brown, from New Orleans, lost his starting LT job to Terron Armstead by the end of the season but in Brown’s defense, Armstead is a bit of a beast. Protecting Drew Brees’ blind side is no easy feat and the Saints don’t take stocking up their offensive line lightly. Brown, 6-5, 297, was a second round pick out of USC in 2010 and still has loads of talent to be tapped. Here’s what NFL.com said about him, coming out of college,

“Has long arms and an effective punch to get inside defenders. He is athletic with a quick first step and lateral agility. Bends knees well to gain leverage. Played in a pro scheme and has good instincts for the game.”

His cap hit was 880,000 so he’s well within the range for the Chiefs to sign and leave room for another free agent to be added at another position. Perhaps what I like best out of Brown is the culture he comes from in New Orleans. A winning culture. Pro Football Focus ranked the Saints offensive line as the 8th best in the NFL in 2013 and so cherry picking a young and athletic tackle from that crowd wouldn’t be half bad. One man’s trash is another man’s tackle.

25 year old Rodger Saffold was the 33rd pick of the Rams in the 2010 NFL draft. I recall liking him as a prospect back then. Saffold had a great rookie year but since then has played right guard. Saffold’s $6.3 million 4 year rookie contract is up and he may be looking for a bigger payday but, he’s been hurt and he could possibly be had for less. Since his move to guard has exposed some limitations in his ability to play tackle, he should not only be available for less but in the end, be a very good guard.

Guards

6-7, 310 lb RG Garrett Reynolds is someone who could be coached up by Andy Reid. He’s known as a good pass blocker but not great against the run which is probably why the Falcons let him go. Here’s RotoWorld’s take on Garrett Reynold’s release,

“The move creates roughly $1.39 million in real savings, and $965,000 in cap space. Re-signed to a two-year, $2.613 million deal last March, Reynolds played 696 uneven snaps, struggling as a run blocker. He started 10 games before being benched in Week 12. Reynolds has made 42 career appearances, all with the Falcons. He’ll likely be limited to minimum offers in the second wave of free agency, though he’s now free to sign with any team.”

Reynolds is a big kid who’s 26 years old and played his college ball at North Carolina. Yes, Reynold would be somewhat of a developmental player but he has the physical tools Reid is known for gravitating towards and he should come fairly cheap.

Middle ILBs
This is where I’ll likely part ways with many fans on who is needed. I like, soon to be 32 years old, Daryl Smith. Smith had a career year last season. Perhaps because Ray Lewis was not there anymore but you have to appreciate the job Smith did. 123 tackles. 3 INTs. 2 forced fumbles and he has 11 years experience. I’m sure some of you are wondering why I would bring that up, as if it is a plus. It is a plus. The Chiefs desperately need to draft their mike ILB of the future. Yes, I agree. But then what? Just throw him to the wolves. Safeties and ILBs must know how to read plays and QBs more than anyone else on defense. They must be leaders. They must be able to say, “Follow me” and then everyone would “want” to follow. That comes with experience and what better way to break in a rookie ILB — no matter where he’s drafted — than to have a top ILB in place who can depart some of his knowledge in his last couple of seasons.

Besides that, Daryl Smith playing next to Derrick Johnson would be phenomenal. Remember, DJ is turning 32 year old later this year too.

Daryl Smith’s monetary numbers? $1.25 million. The Chiefs could wrap that up easily and that line-backing corp could help to return the Chiefs defense to prominence not seen in decades.

Alright Addict fans, is there a free agent you’ve just… gotta have!

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