Kansas City Chiefs' Blueprint for Winning Free Agency
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The Kansas City Chiefs have dominated sports tickers since curtains closed on the 2012 NFL season. Head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey have overhauled the roster, re-signing and releasing familiar faces in attaining a head start in the 2013 free-agency race.
Dorsey fine-tuned his eye for talent with the Green Bay Packers—a franchise known for its prude approach in matters relating to free agency. But one draft cycle, by itself, can't seal the abundance of holes plastered across the Chiefs roster.
This offseason, Kansas City's latest regime has cemented cornerstones and trimmed the fat. But the process is far from over.
Free agency opens the doors for quality control. The reputations of Reid and Dorsey have already defined more ambitious standards for Kansas City. And the remaining decisions will determine whether the Chiefs meet—and perhaps surpass—the franchise's 2013 aspirations.
5. Bolster Secondary with Additional Depth
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The Chiefs' intentions in signing former Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson remain unclear. At 30 years of age, questions have sprouted pertaining to Robinson's presumed role with Kansas City.
His wealth of experience in covering the slot translates to an ideal nickel-back candidate. His fearless psyche and thirst for contact could clinch a future jump to safety. But is Robinson still capable of cracking the (starting) lineup as an effective No. 2 corner?
It seems that Kansas City's front office believes so.
After signing Dunta Robinson, Chiefs no longer interested in Sean Smith wp.me/p14QSB-7AJB— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 9, 2013
If the Chiefs had acquired Miami Dolphins corner Sean Smith, he would have been booked as the starting cornerback opposite Brandon Flowers. If Robinson's signing halted talks between the two parties, it would appear that Andy Reid counts on him to fulfill the vacancy at starter.
The team could view Robinson as a stopgap solution and draft a talent like Southeastern Louisiana's Robert Alford in the third round of the 2013 draft. Alford possesses the quickness and instincts to become a stable No. 2 cornerback in time. However, he could easily be plucked from the board before the Chiefs' second pick rolls around.
If Kansas City bolsters its secondary depth via free agency, options such as Greg Toler and Bradley Fletcher could challenge Robinson for the second starting job.
Similarly, the Chiefs could draft a prospect such as Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien, then convert him to free safety to challenge Kendrick Lewis at the back-end. But with names like Charles Woodson, Ronde Barber and Jim Leonhard available, Reid's more likely to address safety depth through free agency.
4. Add Tight End to Complement Tony Moeaki
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Following Kevin Boss' release, Tony Moeaki represents the only legitimate tight-end threat on the Chiefs' roster.
Primarily known for his receiving skills, Moeaki should enjoy a seamless transition to Andy Reid's offense. But injuries have irritated his career, and he provides little relief to running back Jamaal Charles as a blocker.
Due to the Baltimore Ravens' congested salary-cap situation, Reid may consider recruiting Dennis Pitta. Once an unpolished blocker himself, Pitta has developed and successfully added the facet to his repertoire.
Conversely, Reid could sign a player such Anthony Fasano, who predominantly specializes in run blocking and pass protection. Chiefs fans will best remember Fasano from a 2011 performance in which he posted a pair of touchdowns at Arrowhead (via NFL.com).
Reid's West Coast scheme will air the ball out significantly more than offenses of Chiefs' past. But against fragile rush defenses, Kansas City's run support could benefit from supplementing a blocking tight end.
3. Sign Starting Strong-Side Linebacker
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Brandon Siler currently occupies the strong-side linebacker spot on Kansas City's depth chart. While Siler's a serviceable backup, he hasn't proven to be a starting-caliber inside linebacker. Plus, his history of injuries thwart any chance of Andy Reid debuting his new-look Chiefs with Siler starting (barring an injury).
Brad Jones, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, is the only proven strong-side linebacker in free agency with youth still on his side. After a brief experiment on the outside, Jones returned to his collegiate position and filled in for an injured Desmond Bishop. In Bishop's absence, Jones tallied 77 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 2012 (via NFL.com).
Alternatively, the Chiefs could bring in 28-year-old Larry Grant. Primarily serving as NaVorro Bowman's backup, Grant proved his diversity when briefly stepping in for Patrick Willis in 2011. In doing so, the linebacker's workload drastically increased throughout a four-game span. In those four contests, Grant logged 34 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble (via NFL.com).
2. Upgrade Right Defensive End
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With Tyson Jackson restructuring his contract, a void still remains on the opposite end of the defensive line.
Glenn Dorsey never sniffed his expectations as a former No. 5 overall pick. When healthy, Dorsey lined up as an effective run stuffer. But a calf injury sidelined No. 72 for 12 games in 2012, and the once highly touted defensive end has failed to register a sack since 2010. Dorsey will likely scout the free-agent market for a suitor that operates out of a 4-3 scheme.
ESPN's Bill Williamson reported that Kansas City has already visited with New York Giants defensive end Chris Canty.
#Chiefs They are still in Chris Canty mix. But he is expected to take other visits after the combine. Process may take a couple of weeks.— Bill Williamson (@espn_afcwest) February 20, 2013
A knee injury shortened Canty's 2012 season to nine contests. But, even at age 30, his towering 6'7", 317-pound figure and eight years of experience still make him a viable choice to replace Dorsey.
But Arthur Jones may represent the most sensible long-term option. Jones prospered in his third season with the Baltimore Ravens, ultimately cracking the starting lineup. His 315-pound frame is tailored for Kansas City's 3-4 scheme, and he's surprisingly athletic for a player of his build. The Ravens are bound to release a number of familiar faces as a result of Joe Flacco's whopping $120-million deal (via Spotrac). Jones may find himself on the list of casualties.
1. Replace Right Tackle Eric Winston Through Free Agency
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The Chiefs franchised left tackle Branden Albert, cut right tackle Eric Winston and own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft—a draft arguably headlined by a left tackle, Luke Joeckel, in regards to talent. The stars are aligned for Andy Reid and John Dorsey to draft Joeckel and convert him to right tackle.
But techniques become reversed, making the flip more challenging than one may think. And the active free-agent market contains top-tier talent at right tackle.
On Monday's episode of ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning, former general manager Bill Polian disagreed that Joeckel heading to Kansas City was etched in stone. Polian refuted, "I think there's still room for [the Chiefs] to maneuver, and Andy [Reid] will probably do that. I don't think it's fait accompli at all."
Unlike Winston—and the majority of others at the position—New England Patriots right tackle Sebastian Vollmer doesn't lag in pass protection. Vollmer headlined Pro Football Focus' list of (non-franchised) free-agent tackles and brings experience at both ends of the line, which would offer a degree of insurance in regards to Albert's back issues.
With quarterback Matt Cassel's release seemingly on the horizon, the Chiefs should oversee enough cap room to comfortably sign a talent like Vollmer. In doing so, Kansas City's options with the No. 1 selection would broaden, and the Chiefs could address a need more vital to team success than right tackle.
Twitter: Follow @BrettGering