The Kansas City Chiefs has been one of the youngest teams in the league for several years now. However, without a championship of any kind, nor a playoff victory to their name, maybe they should be considering, going old school.
With the Denver Broncos release of sure to be Hall of Fame CB Champ Bailey this week, I heard it mentioned on the NFL Network’s AM show that,
“The Chiefs should consider signing him (Bailey) and moving him to Safety. Who knows if the contract numbers are workable… or if he’d want to go to Kansas City… or if he’d agree to a move to Safety but, the prospects are intriguing.”
Now when I heard that, my thought was, it could open the door for other such moves.
All of which may require the Chiefs to get older, as Champ Bailey will turn 36 before this coming season begins.
If the Chiefs were to buy into the idea that they could blend some older crafty veterans with plenty of gas in the tank… with their young and still emerging group of stars… a championship could be just around the corner. Plus, they may be taking a journey down a path which requires following a newly mapped out course to the top of the league.
For quite a number of years now, all I’ve been hearing from league pundits is, “The best way to a championship is to build a young team and watch them grow together.”
On the other hand, how many fans feel like they’ve been watching that frustrating scenario play out for year after year and it’s like watching a pan of water boil… it never does.
Never in all my years have I heard of such players being cut from their teams and joining the ranks of the unemployed.
DB Champ Bailey, 35
DE Michael Bennett, (29 later this year)
T Tyson Clabo, 32
KR Devin Hester, 31
T Levi Brown (turns 30 next weekend)
LB Larry Foote, 33
OT Samson Satele, (30 in Nov.)
DE Will Smith, 32 (33 this summer)
OG Wade Smith (33 in April)
And there are many, many more not listed here.
Who knows if any of these players will end up on the Chiefs roster in 2014 but, I’m intrigued by the possibility of a simple little shift in philosophy if GM John Dorsey and HC Andy Reid were to decide to bring a few top flight… admittedly older… veteran players who could not only help them over the top and get them to a championship game but, provide the stopgap player the Chiefs may be needing right now. Players who can live with a one or two year contract understanding full well that the Chiefs are on the verge of breaking on top in a big way.
I recall the days of head coach George Allen in Los Angeles and Washington and his aversion to rookies. He only had them on his team so he could collect them like little purple Baltic Ave houses and when he had enough of them he’d trade them for the big blue mansions on Park Place Ave in the game of football Monopoly. More appropriately said, Allen loved veterans… guys who already had learned to play the game and he went out of his way to sign them and trade for them.
Now, it looks like the league has come full circle and with most teams wanting to emulate the Seattle Seahawks system of “draft em young, throw em in there, and ride em to a title” approach many teams have left themselves a bit vulnerable and may be hurting their teams by cutting older — not aged — but a little older, players. Some that haven’t even reached the age of 30 yet.
Another huge difference between the golden oldie days of George Allen and the shoe rage new age days of Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder is… money. And lots of it. So much so that the players are finally able to say, just as Adam Sandler’s character said in the Wedding Singer, “I’m gonna get me some of that.”
In other words, there appears to be an opportunity and if the Chiefs can seize the opportunity, they could put themselves in contention right away.
So, what’s stopping other teams from doing the same? Well the Chiefs opportunity is tied to the fact that the already have 9 Pro Bowl players on their squad and beyond that, a truly strong core group and with a few adept moves, could place themselves at the same competitive level as teams that are currently the class of the league like the 49ers, the Seahawks and I’d certainly consider the Packers and the Saints before I’d mention any AFC teams.
It’s not a huge leap to see the Chiefs becoming the class of the AFC. If you’re thinking the Patriots should be included… to quote Billy Joel, “You may be right but, you may be wrong.” The Pats had 14 rookies on their roster last season. Apparently Billy-bob Belichick knows how to dance that river dance too: “draft em young, throw em in there, and ride em to a title.”
Problem is, I’m just not buying it. I’m sure you saw them in the AFC title game against the Broncos and thye didn’t look very good against probably the fifth or sixth best team in the NFL… meaning the Broncos.
Perhaps you’re going old school and still believe the Raven or the Steelers are the toast of the AFC. More like… “toasted.” They finished 8-8… both of them… and I’m not impressed with the moves they’re making to try and get better.
So who might make a splash in free agency?
While the Raiders (64.9 mil), the Browns (55.8 mil), the Jags (53.3 mil) and the Vikings (40.9 mil) have the most cap space to spend and look to be the biggest possible splashers in this season’s free agency pool but, you have to wonder how many players would actually want to play in those places? Each of those teams lost their respective divisions except the Jags who somehow let the Texans underplay them last season.
So, let’s talk about a few of the players listed above who could come in and help make the Chiefs contenders in a micro-minute.
Now, I know that Will Smith is best suited to play a DE in a 4-3 alignment but, the Saints were going to try him as a DE in the 3-4 last year until he was sidelined with an ACL before the season ever started. At 6-3 and 282 and knowing the kind of player he is, I see no problem with him taking over for Tyson Jackson and having a much more productive year than anything T-Jack has produced.
Speaking of a Smith, how about soon to be 33 year old Wade Smith, who’s played for Houston which is now in the midst of cleaning house with the Belichick clone Bill O’Brien who’s looking to find scapegoats for a 2-14 season. Not impressed say you? Well guess what? ProFootballFocus.com has ranked Wade Smith with the 6th best Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) for a three year period. I would guess he could be had on a one or two year deal, for a song. What song? How about “Happy” by Pharrell because you should be happy if he signs with the Chiefs. He’s a great guy too and has his own charity called, “The Wade Smith Foundation” which supports literacy for young students.
LB Larry Foote is someone I wanted the Chiefs to check out when he was moving from the Steelers to the Lions and back again several years ago. Now, although he turns 34 this summer, he could give the Chiefs a real shot in the arm at the ILB position until either Nico Johnson develops or another draft pick, yet to be chosen, grows into the position.
What if Champ Bailey really wanted to stick it to the Broncos? What a great place to do that ala Neil Smith only with the rolls reversed. What sweet revenge that would be. To this day… every time NFL Network’s shows the last two years of John Elway winning a championship and I see Neil Smith in a Broncos uniform, my body goes into convulsions. You may say, “But Bailey has lost a step.” However, don’t forget, Champ Bailey had a 4.28 40 time coming into the league and him losing a step is what most other DB… and more importantly WRs… have on average, which I understand is a 4.44.
Tackle Tyson Clabo may be 32 but he’s still a good pass blocker. He may not come as cheaply as others on the list but, anyone who can protect better than Jeff Allen is alright with me. Then again, that describes most any lineman in the league. Of course, Clabo has been to a Pro Bowl before. Allen only knows guys who have been to a Pro Bowl.
Michael Bennett may only be 28 years old going on 29 but he just came off of a championship squad that looks to maintain their clout and remain dominant. Who wouldn’t want someone like that on their team. Bennett will likely have all sorts of suitors beginning later today but wouldn’t you want this man chasing down QBs for you?
The Chiefs can take advantage of the “Generation Gap” and use it to get them over the top but, it may take a change in philosophy.
Many fans may be averse to the Chiefs giving away cash to what appears to be, “washed-up veterans” but if the Chiefs want to make the leap they need to make this season, not only in the win column, but as an attractive place for future free agents to come to… and then flourish… they may need to go this route first.
Okay Addict fans, how do you feel about the age issue? Now, be very careful what you say next because I’m getting up there.