According to various media reports, the NFL has told teams that restricted free agent tenders will be available. Like the franchise tag, there are a few unknowns involved.
Before the 2010 season, the threshold for unrestricted free agency was four years of service, which meant players with three years (like CB Brandon Carr) were restricted and the Chiefs could retain their rights with a tender. Because of the rules during the uncapped season, 2010 saw that threshold rise to six years of service meaning players with five or fewer years (like QB Brodie Croyle), instead of three, were eligible for restricted free agent tenders.
Like the franchise tag, we aren't completely sure what 2011 will bring.
Teams liked having the threshold at six years because it allowed them to keep more of their own players. The players (and agents) didn't like it because it restricted free agency so much. In general, players want to hit free agency as fast as possible, while teams want to hold their rights as long as they can.
Agents have told me they expect the threshold to revert back to four years but we can't say that for certain. So the Chiefs are going to face some interesting decisions. For example, they may place a restricted free agent tender on QB Brodie Croyle, who has five years of service. He's a backup quarterback and I'd imagine they'd like to keep him if the price was right. The problem is that, when the next labor deal comes along, the threshold for unrestricted free agency may revert back to four years meaning Croyle's tender wouldn't be good anymore.
Presumably, the Chiefs will place tenders on players as if five years if the threshold. There's no reason not to do that in my mind. If it doesn't make it into the next labor deal, then there's nothing you can do.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli told Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star that he's talked to some of the 25 players without a contract for 2011 but he isn't sure if he anticipates getting anything done with anyone.
As with a lot of things right now, there are a lot of unknowns than knowns.