Setting Odds for Kansas City Chiefs Signing Their Top 6 Free-Agent Targets
Tell me that free agency is irrelevant, and I'll tell you to auction off your No. 31 jersey—the one that has seen more tailgates than a Jeff Foxworthy signing—and prove it. Peel it off the hanger, pay your respects and toss it in a garage-sale bargain bin.
Hypotheticals aside, can you honestly say that, leading up to opening day of 2001, you foresaw Priest Holmes becoming a three-time All-Pro? What about the former Baltimore Ravens back churning out 6,070 rushing yards and doubling as the Kansas City Chiefs' all-time leading rusher?
If you answered anything other than "No," I'm guessing that "Seriously, honey!" has echoed between your walls more than once.
Last season, free agency opened its doors on March 12 and John Dorsey strutted through them like a football philanthropist. Kansas City recruited a small village of players and the lion's share of them, with a few glaring omissions, exceeded expectations.
With a year under the regime's belt, Andy Reid and Co. have a firmer grasp of the roster and its needs. However, though the next chapter won't sprout as many headlines as the season prior, free agency will potentially birth bigger stories in 2014.
The following six players will make blips on Dorsey's radar, but what are the odds that he lures them to Kansas City?
6. Jairus Byrd, FS
The inclusion of Jairus Byrd would solidify a top-five secondary for Kansas City. Buffalo's perennial Pro Bowler is an instinctive, ball-hawking free safety who triggers turnovers in bunches. Simply put, he's the perfect fit for Bob Sutton's Cover 1.
The problem? Byrd is the "perfect fit" for any system.
When considering recent deals for safeties of comparable value, Byrd is likely looking at five-year contract between $40-45 million. In local context, that translates to letting Branden Albert and Dexter McCluster walk, while also releasing Donnie Avery and doing some heavy restructuring.
At season's end, the move would almost certainly spell doom for Dwayne Bowe's stint in Kansas City too.
Ultimately, though, I wouldn't bank on the deal seeing the light of day—especially when the Chiefs have an up-and-comer like Sanders Commings, whose skill set makes for a seamless transition to free safety.
Projected Contract: 5 years, $45 million
Odds of Signing: 30-1
5. Branden Albert, T
Branden Albert's services will be awarded to the highest bidder and Kansas City isn't going to receive any kind of discount steeped in nostalgia.
Nobody in their right mind can blame No. 76 for following the Benjamins. Injuries have plagued him throughout the past two years, so securing a mountain of guaranteed money should be his first and last priority.
While Albert is an average-at-best run-blocker, he has developed into one of the NFL's more revered pass-protectors. Fortunately for him, he plays in a pass-oriented league.
John Dorsey isn't going to break the bank for a left tackle with a lengthy injury history, especially when Eric Fisher is waiting in the wings, and Kansas City is practically ducking below the cap ceiling.
Speaking of which, the Chiefs' claustrophobic cap numbers look even worse when considering the fact that they don't include a long-term quarterback contract.
In the auction war for Albert, Miami, Arizona and Atlanta should open as the front-runners, but there will be ample competition for the six-year veteran. That will swell Albert's price tag, culminating in one franchise grossly overpaying for him.
That franchise won't be Kansas City.
Projected Contract: 5 years, $40 million
Odds of Re-Signing: 8-1
4. Arthur Jones, DE
On the surface, this potential signing makes a world of sense. It would instantly upgrade a position and do so without depleting the cap savings.
Arthur Jones is roughly the same size as Tyson Jackson—whom you can bid bon voyage to—and a year younger. Furthermore, he's an equally effective run-stuffer and considerably better pass-rusher.
Last season, the two shared the same sack total (four), but Jackson's tended to be of the fluky variety (coverage sacks, unblocked bootlegs). Kansas City's former first-rounder amassed eight quarterback hurries and no hits. Jones tallied 15 hurries and five hits.
Given Kansas City's cap situation, however, the Chiefs might roll the dice and experiment with Allen Bailey—who quietly penned a nice 2013 campaign—at starter.
Projected Contract: 4 years, $12 million
Odds of Signing: 8-1
3. Golden Tate, WR
Golden Tate has everything that Andy Reid is looking for in a No. 2 receiver.
For starters, the West Coast offense is predicated on pinpoint timing, reliable hands and precise route running—areas that Tate excels in.
More specifically, though, Reid needs a wideout who presents a vertical threat and stretches the field, keeping safeties anchored at a safe distance from Jamaal Charles. Seattle's starter is one of the faster receivers in the league—a quality that gave rise to eight grabs of passes that traveled 20-plus yards through the air in 2013. Also, he dropped only 4.5 percent of catchable targets last season.
Yes, Tate told Sports Radio 950 KJR in Seattle that he would be willing to take a market-value markdown for his current club:
I would rather take a little less to be happy and win ballgames than to take way more and go to a crappy city where the fans don’t give a crap about the team.
I would much rather stay in the situation that I have now for a little less than to go and try to break the bank somewhere else.
Let that post-Super Bowl crazy talk simmer down for a month or so. Financially, Seattle's bank vault makes Kansas City's look like Fort Knox, with just $1 million sandwiched between the Seahawks and the cap ceiling.
Out of 2014's crop of young free-agent wideouts (Jeremy Maclin, Hakeem Nicks, etc.), Tate is the only one whom the Chiefs could safely invest in long-term—i.e. offering a back-loaded contract to minimize 2014's cap hit.
Projected Contract: 5 years, $25 million
Odds of Signing: 10-1
2. Jeremy Maclin, WR
Regardless of where he ends up, Jeremy Maclin's signing has the potential to augment an aerial attack or serve as a one-year setback. Rest assured that every prospective buyer will have a stable No. 3 wideout.
Obviously, from the outside looking in, Maclin's free agency seems that it'll likely boil down to a two-horse race between Kansas City and Philadelphia.
The playmaker has spent the entirety of his professional career in the latter city, but he doesn't have any infrangible ties to Nick Foles—although he has played a handful of games with Foles under center.
Conversely, Maclin is infinitely more familiar with Andy Reid's offense as opposed to Chip Kelly's, which would help smoothen his transition back onto the field. Also, even if Donnie Avery remains on the roster, he poses less competition to No. 18 than Riley Cooper (assuming the Eagles re-sign him).
No matter who inks the wideout, you can expect a one-year deal ranging from $4-6 million with little to no guarantees.
Regardless, Philadelphia's estimated $21.2 million in cap space ensures that it will have the final say.
Projected Contract: 1 year, $5 million
Odds of Signing: 4-1
1. Dexter McCluster, WR
In terms of contract negotiations, Dexter McCluster is interesting from a variety of angles. For starters, he's a good-but-not-great slot option. However, his value as a punt returner—he led the NFL in returns, yardage and touchdowns—is borderline irreplaceable.
If John Dorsey re-signs the fleet-footed specialist, he'll be equally tempted and hesitant to sink a considerable amount of guaranteed money into him.
Kansas City's GM will be enticed to do so because, at age 25, McCluster is still young and the decision could buy some more breathing room in regards to the salary cap.
The risk? Kansas City's bite-sized ankle-breaker regularly finds himself on the receiving end of cringe-worthy hits—some of which could easily sideline him for a prolonged period of time.
McCluster will certainly have no shortage of suitors, but between Dave Toub's special teams and Andy Reid's offense, no other team can maximize his talent like the Chiefs do.
As a result, re-signing with Kansas City will not only cement his future relevance, but it'll also put him in prime position leading up to his third payday.
Projected Contract: 5 years, $20 million
Odds of Re-Signing: 2-1
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