Kansas City Chiefs: 22 Players to Re-Sign or Let Go
Following the conclusion of the Super Bowl, the Chiefs must decide on what they want to do with the 22 players who will become free agents in March.
Some will be retained while others will not return to Arrowhead Stadium.
This slideshow will feature my predictions on whether or not the Chiefs will re-sign or let go of the following 22 players.
Let me know what you think.
QB Kyle Orton (UFA)
Kyle Orton made an impression as a starter in the final three games under a brand new head coach in Romeo Crennel. However, there's still room for Orton to improve.
But what if Orton gets the chance to spend an entire offseason with the Chiefs and create chemistry with his teammates? Perhaps, some of the red-zone struggles could result into touchdowns.
People might think Matt Cassel is the quarterback of the team. And sure, Cassel took the Chiefs to the playoffs. Just about any quarterback could have done so when given an easy schedule. Fans seem to ignore that Cassel ran into a brick wall in the regular-season finale and in the playoffs during the 2010 season.
The point is, Cassel isn't the strongest option at quarterback. With a player like Orton, who showed some flashes, the Chiefs must consider him as a better option.
QB Tyler Palko (ERFA)
The fact that Tyler Palko struggled in the CFL and UFL shows why he couldn't lead an offense in the NFL.
The first big move Crennel made as the interim head coach was starting Orton over Palko and making Palko inactive for the final three games.
I think it's safe to say that Palko won't be back next season.
Prediction: Let go
RB Jackie Battle (UFA)
With all of the injuries and absences that took place this season offensively, no player stepped up more than Jackie Battle.
Unfortunately, 597 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground are not eye-grabbing statistics. But with the limited playing experience Battle has had as a player in the league, he played well enough to lead the team in yards and touchdowns in the rushing department.
With Battle rising above the rest of the rushers, does this make him a candid option as a backup running back to Jamaal Charles in 2012?
There might be very few teams that would be interested in Battle. In the NFL today, you can never have a lot of running backs. Having Battle with Charles and Dexter McCluster can be a good thing, providing that they can stay healthy.
Unless the Chiefs sign a running back from free agency, Battle should return.
RB Thomas Jones (UFA)
One player not mentioned on the previous slide was Thomas Jones, who's very well known in the league for his leadership.
Despite his strong character, Jones led the team in carries for the second year in a row and has not been able to pull off a high yard per carry average.
Jones will turn 34 years old before the 2012 regular season.
In the NFL, not many teams would want Jones.
Prediction: Let go
FB Le’Ron McClain (UFA)
When the lockout was lifted, one of the biggest acquisitions made by Scott Pioli was the signing of Le'Ron McClain, who earned Pro Bowl honors twice in his four-year career.
McClain came to Kansas City and was hoping to have a good season with Charles. It was also thought McClain was Kansas City's best fullback since Tony Richardson. But that did not end up being the case.
If Charles played all year, perhaps that might have made McClain look better. We will never know.
The Chiefs don't have any other options outside of seventh-round pick Shane Bannon who did not play once for the Chiefs this past season.
TE Leonard Pope (UFA)
Like several players on the team this year, Leonard Pope is also filled in for an injured player. With Tony Moeaki out for the entire season, Pope had to step up and help the Chiefs.
Pope's biggest reason for coming to Kansas City was his former offensive coordinator in Arizona, Todd Haley. But Pope still brings a lot to the table as a backup tight end behind Moeaki.
I say the Chiefs should make the effort to keep him behind Moeaki for 2012.
TE Jake O’Connell (RFA)
Jake O'Connell was with the Chiefs in 2010 as an extra tight end. However, O'Connell was used well as a run-blocking tight end, which ultimately helped the Chiefs rank first in the league in rushing.
The Chiefs should re-sign O'Connell, making him the third tight end on the team.
This would also prevent the Chiefs from searching for a tight end in free agency or the draft.
TE Anthony Becht (UFA)
There isn't a whole lot you can assess out of Anthony Becht.
Becht might be a practice squad player in 2012 and join the 53-man roster if another injury occurs.
WR Dwayne Bowe (UFA)
It's without question that Dwayne Bowe is the biggest name on this list.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Bowe right now. Does Pioli want him? Can he erase those drop habits? Does he want to be back? Can he go back to the status of being an elite player again?
Bowe has had a roller-coaster career since being drafted out of LSU in 2007. He hit several lows with key dropped passes in 2008, 2009 and part of 2010. Midway through the 2010 season, Bowe unleashed and led the league in receiving touchdowns.
Bowe has shown that he has a lot of potential. He knows that with a new offensive coordinator and a lot of players coming back from injury, the Chiefs have a good chance of making some noise in the AFC West in 2012.
Everyone knew Bowe was fighting for a contract in the season finale and the final game of the season, win or lose, against the Denver Broncos. Bowe was defeating Champ Bailey on just about every play in which Orton threw to Bowe's direction.
Bowe had six catches and 93 receiving yards, all in the first half. Bowe left the game right before halftime and did not return due to a sore neck. He was on pace to have a big game as Bailey struggled to limiting Bowe.
In the past, the Chiefs have let go of Jared Allen, Tony Gonzalez and Brian Waters. All three of them are in the 2012 Pro Bowl. The Chiefs cannot let another player with a lot of potential slip away.
Pioli and Crennel know this and will do what they must do to keep Bowe. But don't be surprised if the franchise tag comes into play.
WR Jerheme Urban (UFA)
Having a core of receivers with Bowe (if he re-signs), Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin looks strong on paper.
Behind those three, include a couple of players. One of them being Jerheme Urban.
Urban had a quiet season for a receiver with only one catch. Losing Urban won't be a serious loss for the Chiefs.
Prediction: Let go
C Casey Wiegmann (UFA)
Casey Wiegmann has an up-and-down season this year with the Chiefs.
For him, this past season is probably the last of his career. Wiegmann will be 39 in July, before NFL training camps get underway.
I'd be surprised if he was in a Chiefs uniform next season.
Prediction: Let go (retires)
OT Barry Richardson (UFA)
Barry Richardson's approval rating among the fans is very low, and I'm sure the same goes with the coaching staff.
Without question, Richardson has been the least productive player the past two seasons for the Chiefs.
With the six of the 12 players from the 2008 class still on the Chiefs, Richardson will be the next one from that draft class to leave.
Prediction: Let go
OT Ryan O’Callaghan (UFA)
Ryan O'Callaghan, drafted by Pioli in New England, spent the entire season on the injured reserve list.
O'Callaghan has been thought of highly by Pioli in some past interviews.
With Richardson's performance, O'Callaghan could be kept as a backup.
DE Wallace Gilberry (UFA)
For the third season in a row, Wallace Gilberry has led the Chiefs defensive line in sacks, despite not being the primary starter and playing behind Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson.
The Chiefs must not only consider bringing back Gilberry but also seeing if he has what it takes to start and remain consistent.
If the Chiefs can turn their 3-4 defensive ends from offensive tackle decoys to pass-rushers, along with outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, they can collect a lot of sacks and quarterback pressures in 2012.
DE Amon Gordon (UFA)
Amon Gordon had the second-most sacks among the defensive line but did not get a lot of playing time on the field.
Gordon provided some flashes when given the opportunity. If the Chiefs re-sign Gordon, it would provide some depth at the defensive line.
NT Kelly Gregg (UFA)
Kelly Gregg came into Kansas City from Baltimore and had some flashes as well.
This one is a toss-up.
There are not a lot of options for the Chiefs, unless they decide to go with a nose tackle with the first pick.
LB Jovan Belcher (RFA)
I mentioned before that there are some viable options for the Chiefs to place at inside linebacker alongside Jovan Belcher.
If the Chiefs are unable to find another player to fill this spot, expect Belcher to return and start.
If the Chiefs are able to find another player, it's likely that we could see Belcher compete for that starting linebacker slot next to Johnson.
CB Brandon Carr (UFA)
In a recent interview with Nick Wright, Brandon Carr told Wright on 610 Sports that he doesn't want to talk about the contract situation or what his agent is telling him. Carr did make indications that he would be happy to return to Kansas City next year.
Carr has come a long way and has improved the past two seasons. I expect Carr to follow suit with his teammate at cornerback, Brandon Flowers, and sign a long-term deal.
This would be very beneficial to keep Flowers and Carr together for a long time as both were drafted by the Chiefs in 2008.
CB Travis Daniels (UFA)
Travis Daniels seems to get the most action when a starter gets hurt.
Among all of the cornerbacks on the team, Daniels gets the call to fill in for a starter when needed.
If the Chiefs bring back Daniels, it would be good for the Chiefs depth. If they don't, then it would be a small loss. But nothing big.
S Reshard Langford (ERFA)
There is not a lot that can be made about Reshard Langford.
He has played a little bit and has played when his number was called.
If the Chiefs re-sign Langford, it would prevent them from having to find a backup safety in the offseason.
S Jon McGraw (UFA)
I've said in the past that Jon McGraw really is underrated in Kansas City. I felt that he's one of the players Pioli must re-sign.
McGraw, as a backup and active player in rotation, would help construct a very strong core of defensive backs when Eric Berry returns. The Chiefs defense has a lot of potential next year, and it will be exciting to see all of the key contributors to return.
As the most experienced defensive back among all players on the team, having a veteran, like McGraw, would not be bad at all.
S Sabby Piscitelli (UFA)
Not many people thought before the season that Sabby Piscitelli was going to receive a lot of face time.
Due to Berry's injury, Piscitelli got a lot of playing time.
Piscitelli didn't do anything to impress anyone. Unfortunately, for Piscitelli, he may not return and be part of a good group of defensive backs.