Early on, this offseason showed quite a bit of promise for the Chiefs. We were active in Free Agency, had what many experts called a very smart draft, and had almost 100% attendance at OTAs and Minicamp.
No Jarrad Page. At first, there wasn't much need for concern. Page had Tweeted his excitement about lining up with Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, and Brandon Carr in the secondary. And most fans had known that he would be one of the big contracts to keep an eye on. Coming off an injury shortened season and facing the looming CBA talks and possible lockout, it's hard to imagine that a common ground could be met quickly.
Now, things aren't looking so good. We have heard virtually nothing from either side about what is going on. The only things we know are that Page's camp has formally requested a trade and KC has essentially snubbed any offers so far.
So now we are left with two questions: What will happen with Jarrad Page? And if Page is gone, who lines up opposite Eric Berry?
As for what will happen with Page; the formal trade request has two purposes. The first is obvious: a player wants to leave. The second reason is to gauge interest and determine the value of a player. If Page wants out and KC is willing to abide, the question becomes "who needs a safety?" The team that immediately jumps out is Detroit. Like the Chiefs last year, the Lions safety position could be listed as a liability. There is no doubt that they could use Page and that he would be an immediate starter. So what do the Lions have to offer? A lot of young talent and a few veterans at positions of interest (if not need) for the Chiefs. There are three players (IMO) on the Lions roster that could be of interest to Pioli & Co. Dennis Northcut, Sammie Lee Hill, and Deandre Levy.
Northcut (WR) is a veteran and has been around the block. But he is an average receiver at best and is well past playing at his best. He wouldn't be an upgrade over Jerheme Urban and would likely be fighting for a roster spot. It is likely that he was a part of the Lions original offer to KC considering they now have Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson on the outsides. This would be a steal for the Lions as they would get a starter with big play ability and KC would be stuck with a guy who might not even make the team.
Hill (DT) is massive. He is bigger than both Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith. He is a run stuffer that is projected to rotate in Detroit's 4-3 on running downs. That makes him a luxury and not a necessity to the Lions. This could be a very solid move for the Chiefs as they would gain a possible NT who is very young and could probably compete for a starting role next season.
Levy (MLB) is an excellent run stuffing LB. He attacks the line and is a sure tackler. He has a lot of upside. The Chiefs could see him as a replacement for Derrick Johnson within the next couple of years. The problem is that Detroit loves Levy and might not be willing to part with him. This will come down to which position and player the Lions front office values the most.
So if we do ship Page off. What do we do at safety? It is clear that Eric Berry is expected to start and play well. But who do we line up next to him. The current options are John McGraw, Dejuan Morgan, Kendrick Lewis, Reshard Langford, and possibly Donald Washington.
McGraw is probably one of the best Special Teams players in the league. He knows football and plays hard. But he doesn't have the athletic talent that you want in a starting safety. He filled in for us at safety last year when Page went down, and teams promptly took advantage of that.
Morgan has been a disappointment so far in KC. He's athletic and has shown ability at times but is generally picked on when he's on the field. The NFL game simply seems too much for him so far in his career.
Lewis has turned a couple of heads in KC. He doesn't have blazing speed, but he is instinctive and reads plays very well so he is able to get in positions. He could very easily be an every day starter within a couple years, but probably shouldn't be rushed. KC has lined up a pair of rookies at safety before and now one is a reliable player for another team and the other is requesting a trade. And neither saw their potential met in KC.
Langford is a career Special Teams player. He doesn't really figure to be a part of the battle at safety and his listing at that position is more of a formality.
Washington has been the subject of some talk. It is possible that the Chiefs want to move him to safety so that he can use his range to cover deep. I would think that he'd need at least one season as a back up before we really considered him for the starting position.
I, for one, really don't like any of these options. I simply don't believe that any of these options are ready to start. So my answer would be to look at the free agent market. There are only three names out there that could really receive any attention IMO. Mike Brown, Jermaine Phillips, and Manquard Manuel are all veterans that could help teach Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry the ins and outs of safety in the NFL.
Brown leaves a bad taste in the mouths of most Chiefs fans. He waited until KC to put up the worst season of his career which explains the current lack of interest in him. He's close to retirement and doesn't appear to have anything left in the tank. But if the Chiefs defense has improved at all, it wouldn't be too far fetched to think that Brown could have a better showing this time around.
Phillips has been around the league for a while and has learned a lot. He's lost a step but would probably gladly embrace the role of mentor for a 1 year deal. He is the highest rated free agent at safety on the ESPN boards and would probably rate the most attention from a safety-needy team.
Manuel was a reliable starter for Detroit until injuries got a hold of him last year. His injury concerns are the reason that Detroit hasn't brought him back already. Of course, it's also the reason that no one else is beating down his door. KC could probably be a good fit for Manuel even with his injuries. Lewis or Washington could be functional as starter by mid to late season which means the team wouldn't have to rely on Manuel for the whole year. That helps limit the risk of signing a player with injury concerns.
This could turn out to be quite the soap opera for KC this year. Or it could all be a result of the fans having too much time, not enough information, and an easily accessible forum to drive themselves and each other crazy. I am personally hoping that Page returns, even if it's just for this year. One more season in KC would probably see him at his best because he would know that he is playing for his future in the league. And I would be much less wary of Kendrick Lewis starting next year. But hey, it's just a game. Right?