Chiefs Free Agents: Out With The New... In With The Old?

1 Feature From The Bleachers

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.

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  • berttheclock

    Appears the NFL has morphed into a version of “Logan’s Run”.

    Yes, indeed, George Allen, who drafted Harold Jackson in ’68, then, traded him to the Eagles for that exceptional running back Israel “Izzy” Lang, who only gained one yard for the Rams and was dumped as he could not beat out Lester Josephson (still can’t believe I was taller than Josephson and as about as big as he in law school). But, Lang did play “Muthaf…..” very well for Carl Reiner in “Where’s Papa”, when, he ran backwards across a darkened Central Park, while, Ron Leibman tried to emulate Cornell Wilde’s “Naked Prey” run.

    No, Jackson was just too “rookie and green” like for George Allen, who believed each and every game (preseason or regular) was the single most important event of any of his player’s lives. Wore very thin on Merlin Olsen.

    • ladner morse

      … and… my lasting memory of Harold Jackson is a 69 yard TD pass vs the hated Packers in the L.A. Coliseum making the Rams a perfect 6-0 at the time. I’ll never forget as the pass from John Hadl (long of San Diego then was the rams mvp in 73) to the Mr. Harold Jackson traveled from my left to right and it seemed like no one the Packers had could stay with Jackson…. a total breakaway treat for a 21 year old dreamer.

      BTW… the Rams opened the season of 73 vs the Chiefs in Arrowhead.

      • berttheclock

        Now, Laddie, for the bonus points, how many times did Hadl’s pass turn end over end while enroute to Mr Jackson?

        • ladner morse

          The way I remember it was … perfect pass, perfect play, perfect day.

          However I also know Hadl wasn’t with the Rams for long.

          • berttheclock

            Very fond memories of Hadl, as I first saw him play HB for Lawrence High School, when, they beat us. Then, the days at KU and Hadl was a fellow Sigma Nu. He even drove me back to the frat one night from a dorm where we had dropped off our respective dates. Great guy, but, he did throw many a tumbler to Bambi in SD.

          • ladner morse

            Wow bert…. incredible.

            Yea… Hadl pretty much made Alworth a HoFer.

        • Brian Dempsey

          Speaking of Harold Jackson, in spite of the ’73 Rams running the ball 659 times that year, Jackson caught 40 passes for 874 yards and 13 TD’s.

  • Keith Alberson

    I still say Red Bryant should be our # 1 target. With Bryant beside Poe, the Chiefs would have two “Beast” on the front line, giving that push been needing getting to the QB. We went the route of bringing in Robertson last season, and it didn’t work. Bailey is a great talent, but all i can remember is him getting torched by the Ravens, and he’s getting older. I still think Sander Commings will emerge this season, and Cooper will get better, after coming out of no where his rookie season. I have faith in Mr. Dorsey to find the right blend of Vets. in free agency, and not break the bank going into the draft. I see us either picking up that reciever or safety in free agency, but not both. I think we want a young reciever that can flat out stretch the field, with A.J. Jenkins. If Jenkins emerges this season, and under coach Reid i believe he will, with one added reciever, and the kid from Canada, alone with Hemingway, with Kelch coming back, and another TE, we’ll have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. However, Defense wins Super Bowls, so it starts with getting to the QB, with Bryant, along with replacing Jackson, Houston and Hali will be Monsters! and allow the secondary to play press coverage. This is the season the Chiefs can take it all, after the dust is clear, and the new pieces are added, will know. Love the off season.

    • Brian Dempsey

      Just saw a report that Red Bryant is going to sign a 4-yr deal with the Jags. Sorry, man.

      • berttheclock

        This really figures. First of all, the HC of the Jags was his DC with the Seahawks, plus, they run a 4-3, which he fits far more than a 3-4

  • Daniel Mayfield

    I would go for the LB Foote and the DB Bailey.
    I’ve seen both of them and I know Foote is still strong and good with his tackles…the “old school tackles”, uses his arms instead of only his shoulder or head.
    Bailey was good but I didn’t pay much attention that team. When my son likes the Steelers, and I’m a little fan of them too, you watch their games…what do u expect, I live in WV. I love KC, not Pittsburgh.

    • ladner morse

      Foote and Bailey… me too!

  • Keith Alberson

    well with Bryant off the board, maybe the Chiefs are looking at a DE, or looking to pick one up through the draft. What ever the case, they have to upgrade, Defense wins Super Bowls, and Jackson has proven year in and year out he’s average, and not going to get the job done. The only started on the line that pose a threat is Poe, and thats not going to cut it.

    • Brian Dempsey

      Would not be surprised at all if the Chiefs took a couple of DE’s in the draft. I still really like Tuitt and still believe that of all defensive players available in the 2014 draft, there’s not a better fit for the Chiefs defense than Tuitt is. 20.5 sacks in 28 starts as a true 3-4 DE and he conducted a pro day workout on Feb 28 and ran a 4.8 at 303 lbs, and then had his foot surgery done on March 3rd and should be fit and ready to go to work for whatever team drafts him. Tuitt posted that info himself on his twitter account.

  • Stan Colbert

    I love the idea of salting the team with a few vets. to season the team! People who know how to win and can spread that savvy around. This year Jordan, Schwartz, even Dunta did well in that.
    I don’t consider 29 to be too old esp. for d-line or o-line. However, the thing about FA are the team that knows them best have not retained them. The why of that is important!
    Loooking at the chiefs. Our FA are all of an age and experience I would love to find. Not signing them will be gold for the league, I fear.

  • jimfromkcj

    If anyone actually subscribes to this idea, what they are really saying is that the Chiefs Management isn’t capable of picking quality players. Other teams seem able to draft players in the first round and plug them in and they play like veterans, and the Chiefs draft Dorsey, Jackson, Fisher, Berry, Baldwin, and Poe. That is 2 out of 6 and Berry and Poe didn’t show much the first year. Just think what kind of a team we would have if we had drafted Clady instead of Dorsey, Raji instead of Jackson, Okung instead of Berry, Taylor instead of Baldwin, Cox instead of Poe, Joeckel instead of Fisher. So I can’t see where there is any corollary between having a young team and underperformance. It is just the lack of talent and coaching, or both. I think it is more lack of talent. I still submit that a good young player will outplay an over 30 player if the talent is the same. So lets get some good judges of talent and go young.

    • ladner morse

      jim… I wasn’t at all suggesting this as a permanent solution to the Chiefs plans. However, it does seem to be a workable alternative to coming up short handed this off season… which is where I think the Chiefs are headed without some kind of extra cap break… which is apparently not forthcoming any time soon. Albert, McCluster, Asamoah, Tyson Jackson, Demps, Jordan, Schwartz, Husain, plus the hole at Free Safety… how on earth do you suggest the Chiefs fill those holes with a limited amount of cap space and one high draft pick. It’s totally round peg in square hole. A few older… yet completely capable… veterans could be the answer until the next off season when the Chiefs will not only have more cap to work with but all of their draft picks too.

      When you consider the list of players the Chiefs could lose and that 7 or 8 have been starters this year… it’s a lot of turnover (33% starter turnover). Too much turnover. However, what can be done about that? Most all of those contracts were written by the previous regime so we can’t hold Dorsey responsible for this all coming down in the same year.

      So… it seems perfectly logical to me to sign some player who are… or have been very good… but are now a little older. Maintaining a winning team and winning environment is important too and I think older players who — know how to win — could be a big boost in the interim.

      • jimfromkcj

        Laddie, I posted this once before, and will post it again. My ideas on how to use this season as a jump off point to a super bowl.
        Release or try to trade:
        McCluster
        Albert
        Lewis
        Jackson
        Flowers
        Asamoah
        Hali
        Sign free agents:
        Schwartz OG
        Allen FS
        Moats OLB
        Dansby ILB
        Starks RB
        Dansby is the only older type. Moats is the highest paid player last year at 1,323,000. so they are not super stars, but they are solid players who can come in and contribute at a price we can afford. My mock will follow.

        • jimfromkcj

          My mock as of today. I am adding a couple of 2nd rd picks and an extra 3rd rd pick from trades of the players above.
          Rd 1 pick 23 Benjamin or Matthews WR.
          Rd 2 Tuitt DE N. Dame
          Rd 2 Jackson OG Miss St
          Rd 3 pick 87 Desir CB Lindenwood
          Rd 3 Turner OT OG N. Dak St.
          Rd 4 pick 120 Hurst OT N. Car
          Rd 5 pick 151 Barrow ILB LSU
          Rd 6 pick 177 Duncan TE Dixie ST.
          Rd 6 Pick 184 Sutton OLB S. Car.
          Some of the players may move up the charts and we would have to make adjustments. This is how I see it as of today. So we may not be a contender this coming season, but if you don’t have the balls to make the tough choices it is no wonder we have been on the outside looking in for such a long time. I just wish we had got Reggie before the Raiders did. I see a lot to like about this guy and his fortitude in having 2 two win seasons in order to get his house in order.

          • berttheclock

            Why do you want to take Benjamin, who may well turn out to be a version of Baldwin? Yes, he is tall and can leap, but, jamming can take the speed out of tall wide outs. If you are going to stay at 23 and try to trade into the second round and pick up an extra pick in the 3rd, why, not take a shorter, but, much quicker wide out, who can run precise routes and has great hands, such as Cooks or Beckham?

          • jimfromkcj

            Bert, I refuse to take a defeatist attitude. Just because we failed with Baldwin doesn’t mean we will fail with all taller WR’s. If you notice I listed Matthews at that spot too. I trust that they would pick the most physical of the two. But we have to look ahead, and I doubt that they will keep Bowe much longer, so we must look for a WR who has potential of being a #1. I would suggest that you go to PFF and check the JVM for the Chiefs, I posted these two posts a few days ago and the guys I have listed to let go or trade are listed as underacheivers on their list too.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I think it’s always necessary to have a healthy mix of young guys and veterans, but the only player from that list I’d have an interest in is Bennett. I could be cajoled into a Lance Moore signing though.

    • berttheclock

      Yes!

  • jimfromkcj

    Here is something that has been on my mind for some time and I don’t know enough about the rules of the NFL to know if my idea has any validity. But I wonder why we let these contracts run out to the point that we either have to sign a contract that we don’t think is good for the club, franchise the guy or let him walk. Seems to me if I were the GM I would figure what I think the guy is worth and whether he has reached his ceiling or not and offer to extend him. If he refuses then I would immediately put him on the trading block and get something for him if at all possible. Now doesn’t that sound more reasonable than to let Carr and Albert walk for nothing and give Bowe a contract that he will never in a 1000 years be able to live up to? Let me know what you think and where you think I am wrong and why.