A brief look at the potential quality free agents hitting the market this year will tell you that there are quite a few players that could help the Chiefs improve for next season. I wanted to put together a brief list of those players I thought the Chiefs might take a look at, in order to start a good discussion that is the hallmark of AP. I think most would agree the top position needs for the Chiefs are NT, C, OLB, and WR. (Not necessarily in that order) LG and RT have also been frequently discussed.
A list of players who might be able to fill those needs after the jump:
Would the Panthers let their 25 year old, 16 game starting center get away? I doubt it. Other then Kalil there are no real stand out centers available. I think the Chiefs may think about Stefen Wisniewski in the first round, or target another solid interior lineman later on, like they did with Asamoah.
At 6-5, both Chargers receivers would bring a solid upgrade opposite Bowe. I think at least one of them, likely Jackson, will be leaving. Smith may be expendable with Nicks and Manningham in New York. He would also be a solid upgrade that would probably come at a fair price. With or without a free agent pickup, I think the Chiefs will pick at least one receiver on draft day. If they can get a solid free agent, that will simply move the pick to a later round. If they don't, they may look to someone like Blackmon or Jones in the first.
This is a position that has some promise in free agency. I don't think Atlanta lets Clabo go, he is a stud. New Orleans may let Bushrod slip away. Although he hasn't been outstanding, he may beat out Richardson for the job. I think Gaither is a beast, can you say 6-9? He spent the season on IR, so the Ravens may not try to retain him. If he can stay healthy he would be a huge upgrade. At 32 the Patriots may let Matt Light get away, and I think he probably still has a few solid years left in him.
Quality guards will always come at a premium in free agency, and I don't see Pioli paying top dollar for one with Waters, Lilja, and Asomoah on the roster. All three of these guys are great players, but with the money required to get them, I think Pioli looks to the draft for interior line depth.
Last year Maurice Jones-Drew was referred to as a rolling ball of butcher knives. That was a mistake, they should have given that title to Tolbert. The guy runs like a water buffalo that just got an unwanted enima from a crocodile. Not only would he be a great blocker at FB, but he could save a roster spot as a third running back. If you don't believe me, go back and watch the Chiefs try to tackle him. (although Belcher did get some great shots on him)
If Franklin doesn't get hit with the franchise tag again, he will be looking for a long term deal, which at age 30 I doubt he gets. He is a solid player, not the long term solution the Chiefs need, but a solid stop-gap if he can be had for a decent price. There are some solid 4-3 DT's entering free agency, but at under 315 pounds, they are probably not the answer at NT for the Chiefs. There is Haloti Ngata...yeah, keep dreaming. I also don't think there is anyway Shaun Ellis leaves the Jets. The pickings are pretty slim here, I think the Chiefs look to the draft.
Woodley and Greenway are absolute studs, but I think it unlikely that either one of them leaves their current team. Kiwanuka has had injury problems, and the Giants have a lot of talent on the D-Line, so they may let him slip away. He is a very good pass rusher when healthy. Edwards and Johnson could probably both be had for a reasonable price, and would provide an improved pash rush opposite Tamba. (Assuming we resign Tamba (Please, please resign Tamba)
Yes, I know, we have to top five draft picks at DE. Yes, I know Smith and Gilberry played well. I still thought I would toss these guys on the list as food for thought. Who doesn't want good depth if it can come cheap? Think about this as well, if Spears moved to NT we could have an all LSU D-line. Go Tigers??
While ILB may not be considered a big need by many, given the combination of serviceable play from Belcher/Mayes and its diminished position value in a 3-4, I think an upgrade at the position could go a long way. In my opinion Belcher/Mayes are solid backups and special teams players. Posluszny is a beast, you should have noticed him when the Chiefs played the Bills, and I doubt they let him get away. Given the solid performances of both the Jets and the Bucs, it would be hard to pry Harris or Ruud out as well. Tulloch might leave the Titans, but he may be undersized for a 3-4 ILB. Given how late in the draft you can get a solid 3-4 ILB, I think that is where the Chiefs look.
We have one of the best young CB groups in the NFL says you. I agree, says I. Who better to show them how it is really done and help them reach their full potential then Champ? Sure, Carr would probably have to sit behind him most of the time, but in the long run I think he, Flowers, and Arenas all get better for it.
Sorry Chiefs fans, but in my opinion, free agency doesn't look very promising for us. I don't think we find the answer at NT or C. There are just too few players available. I also don't think we get a good wide receiver. While there are a few available, like guards they usually are at a premium in free agency, and I think we get out bid. OLB is one of the positions where I think we have some hope. There are a good amount of quality players available, and I think some can be had for a reasonable price. While my personal hope is that we get Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan in the first round, if we can get a solid upgrade in free agency, it allows us to look at C, NT, or WR with that pick. The other position where I think we have a chance is RT. I think there are some quality players out there that we will have a shot at. That's my take anyways. I'm predicting OLB and RT as the most likely free agent upgrades. I welcome everyone's thoughts.
The good news? This just means the draft will be that much more fun to watch.