2011 NFL Free Agency: What The Kansas City Chiefs Can Control

INDIANAPOLIS IN - FEBRUARY 25: Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley answers questions during a media session at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25 2011 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Every NFL team is preparing to make tender offers to their restricted free agents this week including the Kansas City Chiefs. GM Scott Pioli spoke briefly about this topic with Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star over the weekend and indicated that they've "talked to some guys" regarding contracts for next year. 

I'd be surprised if the Chiefs complete a long-term deal for someone anytime soon, but they will need to act this week to retain the rights to quite a few of their players via restricted free agency.

As with everything right now, because of the expiring CBA between the NFL owners and players, restricted free agency has a lot more questions than answers. But here are a couple of possible scenarios.

Once the two sides work out a new labor deal, the threshold for free agency will likely be four years (like pre-2010) or six years (like 2010). Peter King of SI.com expects it to revert back to four years for what it's worth.

So let's look at both scenarios as they pertain to the Chiefs 25 players without a contract for 2011. 

In the four-year scenario, players with three or less years of service would be in the Chiefs control. By that, they're either an exclusive rights free agent (two years of service and Chiefs completely control their rights) or a restricted free agent (three years of service), and the Chiefs control their rights via a tender.

In that scenario, the Chiefs would control the rights to these players: DE Wallace Gilberry, CB Brandon Carr, LB Cory Greenwood, OT Barry Richardson, TE Brad Cottam, FB Mike Cox, FB Tim Castille, S Reshard Langford and CB Maurice Leggett.

There are a lot of other things involved in this like tendering them at a low level so someone on the open market may bite but, for the sake of simplicity, let's just say the Chiefs can keep those guys in 2011 if they want to.

But what we're concerned with at this second are the current rules. Though it may be rendered meaningless at 11:59 p.m. on March 3rd, I imagine the Chiefs will operate under the current (until March 3rd) rules, which is that players with five or less years of service -- not just three or less -- can be kept in the fold.

In that scenario, the Chiefs would control the rights to these players: DE Wallace Gilberry, CB Brandon Carr, LB Cory Greenwood, OT Barry Richardson, TE Brad Cottam, FB Mike Cox, FB Tim Castille, S Reshard Langford, CB Maurice Leggett AND QB Brodie Croyle, TE Leonard Pope, OT Ryan O'Callaghan, RB Jackie Battle, LB Corey Mays and C Rudy Niswanger.

We'll probably see a good chunk of these players receive a restricted free agent tender. That's my guess.

So that's 15 of the 25 players that the Chiefs can can retain under the current rules (which very well may change). The list to keep an eye on is the six players that are currently in limbo where they'd be an unrestricted free agent in one scenario and a restricted free agent in another. Those players are: QB Brodie Croyle, TE Leonard Pope, OT Ryan O'Callaghan, RB Jackie Battle, LB Corey Mays and C Rudy Niswanger.

After those 15 players, there are also nine unrestricted free agents. These are guys who will be an unrestricted free agent in either scenario: NT Ron Edwards, DE Shaun Smith, WR Terrance Copper, S Jon McGraw, C Casey Wiegmann, LB Charlie Anderson, WR Kevin Curtis, CB Travis Daniels and LB Mike Vrabel.

[Editor's Note: LB Tamba Hali is the 25th player without a contract for 2011 but he's been given the franchise tag.]

Remember, none of this is set in stone, though. Maybe this lockout goes into September and the rules change. We just don't know.

So that's where we stand with the information that we have. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a very fluid situation. You heard GM Scott Pioli say this week at the Scouting Combine that the Chiefs are just going to play under the rules that they're given. That means the Chiefs need to be prepared for whatever the rules are.

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