Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) stands in the team huddle against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency 2014: Keep Calm And Chief On


Since the final seconds of the Super Bowl came to a close just over a month ago, NFL fans have been waiting anxiously for the start of the new league year so that their favorite team can start making the necessary moves to bring them the Lombardi Trophy next season. That wait is almost over. Tuesday, March 11th is that magical day where teams can land the players that their fans are sure are the final missing pieces to achieve league dominance.

There’s only one little problem.

The exciting, big name, big headline, big money players that are signed at the start of free agency rarely bring a lot of wins with them.

Think about it….

Mike Wallace was arguably the biggest free agent of last season. He ended up signing a huge contract with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins then improved by only one game from 7-9 to 8-8 and Wallace put up a mediocre 73 receptions for 930 yards and five TDs. He actually finished second on his own team in both receptions and yards to Brian Hartline, whom the Dolphins re-signed that same offseason for SIGNIFICANTLY less money than Wallace got. Which of those signings were Dolphins excited about? Which one of them dominated Twitter and ESPN? Which one ended up being the better move in hindsight?

This isn’t a new story in the NFL. The path to the Super Bowl is almost never paved with big name (and big dollar) free agent signings. In case you don’t believe me, look at a few more examples from last season.

Did signing Reggie Bush turn the Detroit Lions into an offensive juggernaut and propel them into the postseason? No.

The Falcons were coming off a NFC title game birth and thought signing Steven Jackson and Osi Umemyiora would help them take that final step that they needed to reach the Super Bowl. They finished 4-12.

The Cleveland Browns were a popular pick to make the jump up to playoff contender after they bolstered their defense with the free agent additions of Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant. They finished last in their division with a 4-12 record.

How about the Greg Jennings addition in Minnesota? Did that move help the Minnesota passing attack take the next step last season? Even better, did some of you forget that Jennings was even in Minnesota until you read that? I rest my case.

As I write this (Sunday afternoon), there has been basically no news coming out of the NFL rumor mill in terms of KC signing anyone, including their own in-house free agents. The Chiefs Kingdom is getting antsy. Fans are so anxious for the rush of their favorite team adding a new player that it is becoming less and less about who the Chiefs sign and more and more about fans having their addiction for Chiefs related news fed.

I understand that it’s frustrating. I understand that it’s almost impossible to not have free agency envy when you see story after story on Sports Center about teams making “big moves” and adding “big names”.

Stop and think about this for a second. I’m going to list some offseason moves from last season and I want you to think about how much excitement there was when they happened compared to how much value you think we got out of that signing last season.

The Chiefs sign Dunta Robinson

The Chiefs sign Sean Smith

The Chiefs sign Geoff Schwartz

The Chiefs sign Akeem Jordan

The Chiefs sign Donnie Avery

The Chiefs re-sign Dwayne Bowe

The Chiefs sign Marcus Cooper

If I was ranking these in order of “buzz” in Chiefs Kingdom at the time that they happened I would go:

Bowe, Robinson, Smith, Avery, Schwartz, Jordan, Cooper

Looking back on what KC got for their investment last season I would rank them in order of value as:

Cooper, Schwartz, Jordan, Smith, Bowe, Avery, Robinson

The order isn’t completely reversed, but pretty darn close. Robinson was a complete bust. Many fans are already unhappy with Bowe’s cap hit compared to his production, and after a solid start Sean Smith proved to be just an average starting CB. Meanwhile, Marcus Cooper was someone nobody had ever heard of who ended up being a key contributor, Geoff Schwartz is now one of the top rated guards in free agency, and Akeem Jordan proved to be one of the top rated run stopping LBs in all the NFL last season.

Signings like KC made with Schwartz, Jordan, and Cooper don’t happen on the opening couple of days of free agency. Players don’t sign team friendly deals right out of the gate. They wait it out to see if a better offer comes along. If one doesn’t, then they sign the team friendly deal. The deals that are signed in the first few days are deals where one team has emerged as the top bidder for a big name player. In order to be the top bidder teams often have to over spend.

The Chiefs simply don’t have the cap space to over spend. While us fans might be craving that excitement that we felt when KC re-signed Bowe and landed Sean Smith, what the team really needs is to find this year’s versions of Cooper, Schwartz, and Jordan. Like it or not, that’s not going to happen right away. Even when it does happen you aren’t going to do any backflips about it. It’s not like the Geoff Schwartz signing last season blew up all over Twitter and had Sports Center doing live cut ins with Adam Schefter to break down the signing. Under the radar value signings are just that, UNDER THE RADAR.

If not under the radar, good free agent signings are still often done later in free agency. Look at the Seattle Seahawks last season. They waited until the big dollars dried up and were then able to convince both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to sign for less than they wanted. If they would have signed them both on the opening day of free agency it would have cost them significantly more in both dollars and years. That’s how smart teams operate.

So when free agency officially begins on Tuesday I encourage all KC to remain calm. I know it’s hard. I know it can be frustrating. I’m right there with you.

I’d like to see KC re-sign Geoff Schwartz.

I think Golden Tate would be a great fit for Andy Reid’s offense.

I think a MAJOR upgrade at free safety would vastly improve the KC defense.

If John Dorsey and Andy Reid can make one of those things (or similar type moves) happen in the next couple of days in a way that makes sense for the team, fantastic. I’ll be thrilled. However, if the only way to make a move this week is to throw 80% of their free agency budget at one player when they have multiple spots to fill, I’ll be supportive of them waiting for the bargaining power to swing back to the teams.

There will be good players available at prices that are team friendly if teams are smart enough and patient enough to find them.

Here’s to hoping that the Chiefs are one of those teams.

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

Follow me on Twitter: @LyleGraversen

Next Chiefs Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep12:00Tennessee TitansBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: 2014 NFL Free Agency Kansas City Chiefs

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Like the draft, it’s all about finding the right players. The two most recent Super Bowl teams have both had significant free agent acquisitions over the past two seasons. Those players have made huge contributions to those teams.

    • berttheclock

      Stacy, one name few mention from the Green Bay days of Dorsey. In 2006, they made a big splash by signing Charles Woodson away from the Raiders. However, the one rarely mentioned is the 2006 signing of the five year Rams veteran, Ryan Pickett. They signed him to a 4 year, $14 M contract. He plugged the center of the defensive line, even, after they drafted Raji. After one year of Raji trying to play DE, they switched the two of them, Picket to DE and Raji to NT. Picket has played NT, since then, whenever Raji is off the field. Originally drafted by the Rams in 2001, Pickett is still playing. So, Dorsey is very much aware of what can be done in FAcy, when, used properly.

  • berttheclock

    Excellent points, Lyle. Also, last season, Ireland spent a ton of money on FAcy and it gained him two things. One extra win and the loss of his job.

    No, there is no rule which states all free agents have to be signed by Noon, March 12. Very good point on letting the dollar signs begin to diminish in those seeking new teams. Perhaps, the Chiefs will add to their offensive line by signing, at a reduced rate, some of the older O-linemen. You mentioned what Seattle did, last season with both Avril and Bennett, while not signing them the first days of money hurling frenzy. Funny thing was Bennett signed on the cheap, but, proved himself and, now, will, probably, be overpaid by the Bears. If you really really really need a big star who will fit your system and you have the money to pay him, then, sign him as quickly as possible. However, if you can mix and match with players who you can sign for less money, go for it. I remember when Green Bay had major problems with trying to find somewhat healthy offensive line bodies to try to protect Rodgers. They did a great deal of mixing and matching and, somehow, Green Bay kept winning. Better than the Jerry Jones system of To The Stars Through Over Paying and somehow ending up, as usual, with never lifting very far off the turf.

  • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict


    Where would you rank the DeVito signing on your list?

    • berttheclock

      Merlin, one point about having DeVito goes along with the systems used in Seattle. Last year, they signed both Avril and Bennett. Now, Quinn runs a 4-3, but, what has not been mentioned is Seattle had the benefit of extra defensive linemen which allowed Quinn to keep changing up schemes. He would move his players around so the QB rarely saw the same mix twice in succession. With the Sutton system, this might work better by having extra LBs, but, DeVito and the improvement of both Bailey and Catapano really helped the rotation of players. Fans often think of only the set starters without taking into consideration the need for rotation. Extra players at those positions does allow needed rotation.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Hype wise between Avery and Schwartz, value wise between Jordan and Smith.

  • Keith Alberson

    I still say the assessment of Bowe is not fair, yes, he got a “Big” contract. Look back to all he has done as a Chief, before Reid took over. Bowe in fairness has never had a QB to work with, and has produced over the years with mediocre QB’S. Last season, it wasn’t until late in the season, until the Chiefs got their offense on track, and Bowe wasn’t getting the ball early in the season. In the end, it was Bowe making big plays, and i still say he was forced out on the last catch in Ind, although the secondary, and “Defense” self destructed, and lost the game. Now that Alex Smith has a year under his belt in Reid’s offense, if we can resign our own free agent’s, and the addition of a reciever through the draft, Bowe will have a good season. I’m more interested in the draft, and undrafted rookie class in the upcoming draft. There’s going to be a large underclass coming out, and i think Dorsey will strike their, and the draft. However, Dorsey is keeping closed lipped, which he should, and we should hear something coming out the Chiefs camp by tomorrow.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I’m not saying I don’t think Bowe is good and I want him gone, far from it. However, if you compare the big fat cap hit he had last season compared to his production there wasn’t near the value as there was for solid starters that made minimal salaries. That’s all I was saying.

  • Priest4Prez

    If we lose 3 Offensive Linemen to free agency; you can call next season a waste. It won’t matter how many wide recievers or free safeties you add to the team; if we don’t have that beef up front then it’s done. Pass rush being the number one priority to most defenses these days and add in we’re playing the tough man league also known as the NFC West. I’ve never been so nervous about free agency before, we must retain one of these guys.

    • berttheclock

      But, but, but, Priest, micah keeps saying offensive linemen are simply boring.

      • Brian Dempsey

        Well then micah must find it exciting to see opposing defenders spend more time in the Chiefs backfield than the Chiefs backs do, like we saw all too often from 2007–2012 which resulted in the Chiefs having the worst record of any team in the AFC during that time span.

        • berttheclock

          According to micah, it just comes to a really slow release by Smith.

          But, hey, Zombo has been resigned. Momentum is starting to build.

          • Priest4Prez

            Was that sarcasm…Zombo re-signing hahaha

    • Lyle Graversen

      Don’t get me wrong, re-signing Schwartz is my #1 move I want KC to make, but KC does already have four of their starters set for next season in Stephenson, Allen, Hudson, and Fisher. They’ll need one more starter (hopefully Schwartz) and then another solid option for depth. The situation sounds dire when you say they’re losing three guys, but finding one starter and a guy off the bench isn’t impossible.

  • Jarad

    Simple note, I’d say Smith easily had a much bigger buzz than Robinson. Robinson could actually be a little further down the list of buzz. I never really saw the hope and expectations with Robinson that I saw with Smith and even Avery. Smith was filling a starting cb need (with size), Avery gave hope for that speedy big play 2nd wr, while most knew Dunta was a nickel cb, slot or maybe a fill in safety.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Valid argument, it was just that Robinson was the first move before FA kicked off so there was a ton of talk and excitement about it compared to Smith who was right in the busiest signing time. I can definitely see your side though.

  • Tony Parker

    Great article Lyle, great points about getting the blue collar help for less.
    We have no choice at this point and time. Forget about being able to grab that FA that could make a huge difference, though as u stated, doesn’t always work out, which is so true. But now, rather than going after a proven commodity, we must put money on some unknowns, very similar to last year’s FA’y period, who may or may not fit our scheme…ahem…Dunta…ahem.
    Or, we simply try to sign one of either Asamoah or Schwartz. Now we could try to move some players for extra picks in this draft….either way it doesn’t look good. We could be in rebuilding mode sooner than anticipated.
    Sorry for being Debbie Downer but this situation we are in does not look good.
    We had blatant needs on D that had to be addressed and instead we must spend on O-line, by the looks of it, and we also have piss poor picks in the draft this year, although it is deep.
    If I were Dorsey, I would sign Schwartz and try to swing a trade or two for more picks this year, both on current players and moving down in the draft, because we need Help.
    Now we could try to save some money for next year and beyond.
    Sorry for the Rant but this is really getting me down, finally a decent QB (whatever Micah) and now a revamped O-line.