Kansas City Chiefs Sign Stanford Routt: Why It's Now Time to Trade Brandon Carr

Derek EstesCorrespondent IFebruary 21, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:   Brandon Carr #39 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a win against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Kansas CIty, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Packers 19-14.   (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It looks like the Kansas City Chiefs solved their key free agent problem this year.

With Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr headlining Kansas City's potential losses, the question has been which player would receive the franchise tag and which would either sign a long-term contract or play for a new team in 2012.

Then Kansas City signed Stanford Routt, committing to nearly $20 million in a move that make Carr's departure practically inevitable.

That doesn't mean the Chiefs should just let Carr walk for nothing.

If Scott Pioli can lock up Dwayne Bowe with a contract before March 5th, Kansas City could use the franchise tag on Carr and demand draft picks in exchange for the top cornerback talent currently on the market.

It's always a seller's market in the NFL for cornerbacks; with last year's record-setting passing performance, that trend won't change anytime soon. That gives Kansas City a hot commodity if they can tag Carr.

Potential buyers wouldn't be able to strong-arm Kansas City with the salary cap into taking less than market value for Carr, either. Before signing Routt, the Chiefs had a reported $37 million in cap room. Part of that is thanks to the $24 million they carried over from 2011.

Bottom line:  the Chiefs can hold on to Carr at a franchise tag price of $10.6 million and not miss a beat.

So who would be most likely to play "Let's Make a Deal"? The Chiefs drafted Carr for Herm Edwards' Cover 2 scheme, though he transitioned nicely into playing more man defense. Consequently, he'll fit nicely into almost any defense.

The Patriots boast having the most high-end picks again this year and need to shore up their pass defense desperately. The Browns have an extra pick in the first round as well, and could pair Carr up with Joe Haden.

The Cowboys also need a solid cornerback in their secondary. They could potentially trade up to draft Morris Claiborne, but odds are they'd prefer to part with a second round pick for Carr and select Courtney Upshaw in the first round.

That's just about what it would take to make something happen, too. A late first round pick might be stretching reality, but a second round pick would fit the latest mold for trading players. Antonio Cromartie went for a third that could have escalated to a second, but Carr comes with far less baggage than Cromartie and his nine children from eight mothers.

Another second round pick would open multiple options for the Chiefs. It could help solidify their depth on a questionable offensive line, or deliver a player like Nick Foles or Ryan Tannehill to compete with Matt Cassel.

Or Kansas City could start the annual shell game of trading down every year like the Patriots; it's just a matter of getting that extra selection or two to start banking picks.

Either way, the Chiefs are now in a prime position to really take this team to the next level. All it takes is Bowe's signature on the dotted line.