As the legal tampering period and impending free agency hit, there’s been speculation that the Kansas City Chiefs will be quiet in free agency given the $78 million and $41 million contracts handed out last week to Eric Berry and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. That puts a damper on dreams of adding big name veterans like Dont’a Hightower, Calais Campbell and maybe even the Chiefs own Dontari Poe.
I don’t believe for a second that the Chiefs will be turning off their phones, eating barbecue and napping all week while other teams fill out their rosters (there will likely be barbecue if we know Big Red). Their recent track record has been very good in adding one surprisingly expensive player (Mitch Schwartz 2016, Jeremy Maclin 2015) per year, along with a number of lower cost free agents that can help (Husain Abdullah, Tyvon Branch, Jason Avant, Terrance Mitchell, Nick Foles).
There may not be much in the way of exciting news for Chiefs fans in the opening hours of free agency, but as the big contracts fall there will be bargains to be had. A few potential ideas below with a lot more likely to come as teams make roster cuts.
The Philadelphia Connection
Michael Kendricks, ILB: Not a free agent, but rumored to be on the trading block, which means he could be cut if no suitable trade partner turns up. Kendricks has been a productive ILB and is still only 26 years old.
Connor Barwin, OLB: An established pass rusher in the league may be starting his decline at age 30. Barwin is also rumored to be on the way out of Philly as they transition back to a 4-3 defense. He’s known as a tremendous locker room and community leader, and could be a nice addition to the Chiefs rotation.
Bennie Logan, NT: He’s no Dontari Poe, but he’s a very good nose tackle that can stop the run and put at least a little bit of pressure on the QB. He might be in the $7-8 million per year range.
Veterans in need of a fresh start
Jared Odrick, DE: The Chiefs defensive line is stacked already, but Odrick is a player that I’ve always liked. He’s got ideal 34DE size and length, and has proven himself as disruptive against the run and pass. He’s coming off of a down year, but might be a nice buy low candidate.
Denard Robinson, RB: The converted QB is still only 26 years old, and has made some progress as a runner in Jacksonville, but never really broke out. He won’t command a big contract at all, but has some explosive ability and versatility.
Manti Te'o ILB: The subject of the weirdest off field incident pre-draft, Te’o is now a 25 year old free agent. He’s been injured, but was productive when healthy. Could he be an option to replace Josh Mauga?
Jarvis Jones, OLB: The former first round pick only has six career sacks and was a disappointment in Pittsburgh. Could a change of scenery and a prove it contract revive his career? He’s shown flashes of ability to get to the QB, and the Chiefs could use more pass rushers.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB/KR: He’s never panned out as an NFL WR, but he’s ELECTRIC with the ball in his hands on special teams. There has been talk of him wanting to play some RB, which could make him an interesting choice to take Knile Davis’s spot on the roster. His estimated contract is around $4M per year.
Luke Joeckel, OL: Remember when he was the safe pick and Eric Fisher was the project? Seems like we now know that the Chiefs made the right decision in a brutal draft class. Joeckel brings guard and tackle experience and technical ability, and could at least be depth in KC.
Chiefs free agents who could return on low cost deals
Nick Foles, QB: Foles chose to come to KC in free agency to work with Andy Reid again. The Chiefs will likely decline his option, but that doesn’t rule out his return on a cheaper contract to be a veteran backup option.
Albert Wilson, WR: Fans have often taken out our frustration on Wilson, who has been maddeningly inconsistent in his time as a Chief. The coaching staff likes Bert enough to at least give him a RFA tender.
Josh Mauga, ILB: The forgotten man in the Chiefs front seven, Mauga hasn’t been on the field since 2015. Known as a steady force against the run who comes out of the game on passing downs, Mauga did contribute two INTs and three passes defended in 14 games that year. A Bob Sutton favorite, I could easily see Mauga returning on a cheap deal for stability in the ILB group.
Street free agent long shots
Johnny Manziel, QB: I never thought Manziel’s game was a fit for the NFL, and was really worried that the Chiefs might draft him before the Browns “Browned”. That said, Andy Reid loves his QB reclamation projects. Will Johnny Football be on the radar again?
CJ Spiller, RB: OK, I’m cheating a bit because Spiller already signed with the Chiefs, but with the team’s obvious need at the position, could he be a surprise contributor? It’s a long shot, but it’s happened before in Kansas City (remember Joe McKnight).
Who are some of your favorite potential free agents for the Chiefs?
Here’s a full list with LOTS of recognizable names.