The free agency period is technically still ongoing, but in the minds of fans it might as well have been six months ago. We're not patient people, NFL fans. We love the whirlwind first couple days of free agency (this year was particularly insane), then rapidly lose interest as the "big" names are signed and rumors quiet down.
Fans then turn their attention to the REAL offseason obsession, the draft. And free agency becomes a distant memory.
So naturally, I'm going to choose now to write the annual "Cheers and Jeers" column. Because if I were to write about topics while they were still fresh, you'd lose all respect for me. Don't think about it too hard, it's just true.
OK, here's what actually happened. I just couldn't bring myself to believe the Chiefs were done with free agency (for reasons I'll explain in a Jeer), so I held off on the column. Then life happened, some cases came to the brink of trial, something something something lame excuse please don't throw things at me. So here we are.
As ever, it's important to know that "Cheers and Jeers" is not my idea. It's from this thing called a TV Guide that may or may not exist. Every year, though, I look at the moves the Chiefs made during and around the free agency period and either "Cheer" them (which is, you know, a good thing) or "Jeer" them. It's long overdue, and I'm a bad person.
Cheers: Signing Jeremy Maclin
I've covered Maclin at length, so there's no need to get into it. I'll just address one specific aspect of Maclin. Losing Bowe then adding Maclin is not a net even. It's just not. If you spend five minutes watching Maclin on tape vs. Bowe, you see immediately why he's a better fit for the Chiefs quarterback and system.
Wide receiver was a desperate need after the 2014 season, though I'd argue the situation at wideout became a little less dire as Jason Avant added at least average WR play and Albert Wilson emerged as a guy who could make some things happen. Many fans who are remembering a horror show at wideout are thinking of players who aren't likely to see the field this next season.
Anyway, all that aside, the Chiefs needed a wideout like Maclin; a guy who can get separation quickly, run the full route tree, and stretch the field vertically. They got him for a decent contract as well. It was a nice job by Dorsey and company.
Jeers: The Dwayne Bowe era ending with a whimper
I never pictured Bowe's last day as a Chief being overshadowed by a trade for a guard, but that's pretty much what happened. After EIGHT YEARS as a Chief (seriously, re-read that. How old are we all getting? Why is time moving at such a ridiculous pace?), Bowe being cut was something of an afterthought.
Look, I get it. We all knew it was coming. His contract was way, way, way too big. He and Alex Smith were a poor fit. His maddening habits weren't changing after nearly a decade in the league. Something had to give. But still, if you would've told me a couple years ago that Bowe was cut and people barely blinked I would have called you crazy.
We're talking a guy who is third all time in receiving yards for the Chiefs, barely behind Otis Taylor (whose name is REVERED, by the way). Yeah, yeah, different eras and what not. But even though it's easy to forget now, there was a stretch of years where Dwayne Bowe was one of the only fun things to watch as a Chiefs fan. Watching Bowe shrug off defenders after the catch and muscle his way to another 10 yards was a joy.
And even though we viewed his occasional flashes of dominance as more maddening than anything else, I'm going to choose to remember them for what they were; the brilliance of a guy with talent oozing out of him. Did he ever COMPLETELY put it together? No. Does that mean he should be remembered any less fondly? Not for me.
We'll always have Seattle in 2010, Dwayne. You were a football god that day.
Cheers: Dorsey structuring contracts
After a couple of offseasons where Dorsey was handing out contracts that were ... fascinating, it was great to see the creative structure on several deals this offseason. The way Ron Parker (we'll get to him later) and Maclin's deals were structured made them as relatively low risk for the team as could be in that scenario.
Contract negotiation was one of my biggest remaining concerns with Dorsey. He laid that to rest in large part this offseason. Whew.
Cheers; A potential elite safety trio
Look, if you don't like the Ron Parker re-signing, fair enough. Just don't dislike it because he struggled at corner. Don't let that affect your view of keeping him around to play safety. Because Ron Parker played well at safety.
Parker's range and ability to track and swat the ball are a gigantic boon at the safety position. He took multiple big plays away from opposing teams and was a very big part of the Chiefs pass defense playing as well as it did. His contract mitigated the risk by being incentive-laden and low on guarantees. And Matt Bowen likes him. Matt Bowen knows more about football than you do (and I do). I'm just saying.
We all know (or at least should know) by now that Husain Abdullah is a very solid, versatile safety and a bargain for the Chiefs. And now Tyvon Branch is added to the mix.
Look, I understand there's a risk with Branch. Two years in a row he's been injured the majority of the season. That's risky. Very risky.
That said, prior to the last two years, Branch had played in 62 of 64 games the previous four years. The injuries Branch suffered the last couple of years (broken bones in foot and ankle) weren't a case of the same injury re-occurring (which is more concerning). Really, it was simply bad luck.
Now, is Branch plagued? Maybe. But I'm not a big believer in karma or whatever. And when Branch is healthy he's really, really, really good. Like, one of the better safeties in the league good.
Bob Sutton loves him some 3-safety sets. Because of some pretty blech and / or tragic circumstances, he hasn't been able to play around with them at the level we'd all like to see. Last season, the combo of Parker / Abdullah / Coleman played very well. Parker / Abdullah / Branch (factoring in Parker having a year to acclimate) could be insane.
Jeers: Not addressing center
Hey, maybe the Chiefs love Eric Kush. And I hope the guy (who physically just looks like a monster) seizes the starting job and makes me look like an idiot for doubting.
But crap, aren't there multiple decent centers still on the market? Weren't they all really there for the taking?
This might be part of some grand overall plan, but losing Hudson could well balance out improvements at guard. Do you want to see the Chiefs in the same overall position on the line? I don't.
Cheers: Tamba Hali sticking around
A lot of people talk about not being about the money. Tamba Hali lives it.
One day, Tamba will be put in the Ring of Honor. And anyone who questions it should get smacked repeatedly with some kind of blunt object. He might not be a great player (I guess we'll have to "settle" for very good, no?), but he is an all-time great Chief. He just is.
Jeers: Whoever is to blame for Houston not being signed
Looking at Jamaal Charles, Allen Bailey, Ron Parker, and multiple other Chiefs, it's hard for me to believe that John Dorsey hasn't made a pretty solid "market value" offer to Houston's camp.
There, I said it. I don't think this is a case of Dorsey being cheap or not valuing Houston (you'd have to be an idiot to not value Houston. He is the second best defender in the league. MAYBE third). I think this is a case where Houston's camp has drawn a line in the sand, and that line is somewhere many of us would say, "Whoa, now, let's all calm down."
I fear the direction this is going the more I think about it. I just really hope Houston is willing to play on the tag. The Chiefs defense has the potential to be exceptional this year, and he's one of the primary driving forces. I don't see a deal being reached, though. It could well be we're in the same boat this time next year.
Cheers: Clearly going after needs
The Chiefs needed a wide receiver who is a better fit for the offense, and they got one. The Chiefs needed an immediate upgrade at guard along with additional competition / depth, and they got both.
Those were the two big ones entering free agency, gaping wounds that needed to get emergency surgery before anything else could even be looked at.
There's quite a bit of freedom to be had in the draft at this point, which is the idea I suppose. Overall, I'm pretty happy with what's gone on so far this offseason and would give it a solid "B." The signing of a veteran center who we KNOW can play at an average level in the NFL would bump it to an "A."
There's still time before the draft, John.