Late in the Wild Card loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Kansas City Chiefs faced a critical third down. Alex Smith's intentional grounding call had moved the down and distance to 3rd-and-17. The Chiefs, down one point, needed to move into field goal range to attempt the winning kick.
In a situation where they absolutely needed a play, the Chiefs called a play for Dexter McCluster. It was that receiver screen that we've seen Donnie Avery, who was already injured in the Chiefs playoff loss by that point, had run a few times.
McCluster didn't pick up the first down but that moment stuck with me because McCluster is scheduled to be a free agent. When I wonder if the Chiefs will attempt to bring him back, I go back to that play. The Chiefs looked for McCluster in the biggest moment of the season.
Partially because of that, I do think the Chiefs will attempt to bring McCluster back. His value is higher to the Chiefs than other teams largely due to his special teams ability. McCluster's 53 receptions for 511 yards is a nice number for a team's third receiver but it doesn't blow you away. What does blow you away is McCluster's work on special teams, where he returned 58 punt returns for 686 yards and two touchdowns.
I don't know why McCluster wasn't consistently a return man before this. He returned 26 and 25 kicks in his first two years but maxed out with just 13 punt returns in his rookie year. He clearly has a knack for returning punts.
Based on what happened in the 2013 season, the Chiefs are the type of team that will rely on their special teams more than others. Special teams was a HUGE part of the Chiefs success this season and McCluster was a huge part of that.
Because the Chiefs value special teams more than others and because DMC is better at special teams than others, I suspect the Chiefs will try to bring McCluster back next season.