If the rumors are true, and John Henderson is either visiting with the Chiefs today (as was..."/> If the rumors are true, and John Henderson is either visiting with the Chiefs today (as was..."/>

Assessing Free Agent John Henderson

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If the rumors are true, and John Henderson is either visiting with the Chiefs today (as was intially reported), or speaking with the Chiefs (as 610 has since tweeted), then we have to examine whether this is a signing that would either help the team, hamstring it, or have no effect.

A brief analysis is after the jump. Feel free to add your thoughts.

1. Henderson will require a hefty payday for the Chiefs to sign him.   Henderson is not likely to come to Kansas City on the cheap as Thomas Jones has. He is a former Pro Bowler playing a position of longevity and significant importance. At 31, he will likely be looking to play on a competitor. For a non-competitor like the Chiefs to sign him, he would require a significant contract — not of historical proportions, but many millions a year for a few years, with millions and millions guaranteed. So the Chiefs would really have to know what they’re doing if they sign him up.

2. It is very unlikely that Henderson will be a part of a Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl run.   The Chiefs are set to get within spitting distance of .500 this year, but that’s more because of our amazing schedule of pathetic opponents than because of any particular improvement in talent. In reality, this team is probably still three years away from being Super Bowl competitive. By then, Henderson will be 34 and on his last legs.

3. While he doesn’t have a natural position in the 3-4, he does have the size to play NT.   Stories abound right now that Henderson is not a natural NT in the 3-4. Fair point — he’s never really played the position before (he’s never really played the 3-4 before), and his 6’7″ height is freakishly tall for the position. But Henderson gets very, very low and is very, very strong. His 330 lbs. frame fits the spatial requirement for the position. So while he is not a sure thing at the position, he is very good at what he does and can fill in at the position for a year or two. He is not an ideal candidate for the position, but at this point the Chiefs need something at the nose, and they just don’t have it.

4. Adding Henderson as a DE would seem to be an unnecessary addition that would involve either changing the scheme or moving players around.   Henderson at DE is simply not worth the massive coin it will take to bring him in. We already have three players we’ve invested in at the position: Jackson, Magee, and Dorsey who’s just now settling in for a position he wasn’t really meant to play. Our most effective pressure DE right now is Wallace Gilberry, who has been a very pleasant surprise. We don’t need Henderson at DE. The idea starting to circulate that Dorsey could be moved to NT is hilariously awful. Dorsey could play the position occasionally as a pure penetrator, much like the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett. But to man it as a space eater and run stuffer is not only a complete waste of his talent, it is a square peg in a round hole.

It’s possible, however, that Crennel may be interested in a more hybrid scheme that meshes the 3-4 with the 4-3, altering between them on a semiregular basis. If that’s the case, then Henderson could be a savvy acquisition. Henderson and Dorsey could both do spot work at the nose tackle position based on whatever the situation is, Shaun Smith can be brought in at other times, and when the Chiefs go with a 4-man front, you’d be facing a DL lineup of Hali, Dorsey, Henderson, and Jackson. Very promising.

5. Henderson struggling at the NT position could lead to locker room issues.   If a transition to nose tackle doesn’t work out for Henderson, there could be trouble. Nose tackle is an excruciating position to play if you aren’t playing it well (just ask Tank Tyler). Facing that negative pressure, not just on the field but from the fanbase, could at the least lead to a complete lack of interest on Henderson’s behalf — and at worst, a venomous frustration that can spread throughout the entire defense. Trying Henderson out at the position does not come without a fair amount of risk.

Conclusion:   Henderson would be, essentially, a very expensive stop-gap player. There’s little reason to sign these players unless your team is very desperate for the help. Henderson may be an unnatural fit at nose tackle, but he could at least play it with some success, and the Chiefs are so bankrupt at the position they can’t afford to be picky. If the Chiefs pick him up as a DE, it would be an unnecessary addition and financially burdensome — and again, Dorsey simply cannot play NT in this scheme. But if the Chiefs were to pick him up as a pure NT, or as the start of a lethal hybrid front with Hali, Dorsey, and Jackson, he’s definitely worth the massive contract he’ll require.

It actually happening? My guess is as good as yours at this point.