2013 Team: Arizona Cardinals
2013 PFF Wide Receiver Ranking: No. 82 of 111
Why the Need: Donnie Avery is scheduled to collect $2.9 million this year and $4.1 million in 2015. Last season, he was also PFF's 105th-ranked wideout out of 111. (If you think Dexter McCluster is going to accept $2 million per year while Avery cashes in those kind of checks, feel free to Google "popsicle math.")
The Chiefs, with a few cuts (including Avery) and restructured contracts, could pluck a No. 2 receiver from free agency. That being said, No. 17's potential release may come on the heels of the draft, after John Dorsey and Co. know if they found a replacement in the first-round.
On a related note, while the Chiefs could pursue Jeremy Maclin, he's likely to sign a one-year, incentive-laden contract that, if the incentives are met, resides in the neighborhood of $5 million. Even in football context, that's a lot of money, especially for a franchise who's within arm's reach of the cap ceiling. And because Maclin didn't play last season, the union and league would have to decide if the incentives counted toward the 2014 cap ("likely to be earned" incentives) or 2015 cap ("not likely to be earned" incentives).
Regardless, Kansas City needs an upgrade.
Why Andre Roberts: Entering Week 1 of last season, the average age of players on Kansas City's roster was 25.7 years old, per USA Today. This offseason, the Chiefs will be scouring the talent pool for a vertical threat, so I looked at free agents under 30 years of age. Doug Baldwin, Andrew Hawkins (slot) and Joe Morgan would all be viable options, but they're restricted free agents (i.e. the Chiefs would be forced to forfeit a first- to third-round draft pick).
Golden Tate is an ideal candidate, but Dorsey would have to pull some salary-cap strings to potentially land him. The same goes for Emmanuel Sanders. Jerome Simpson? Incredibly gifted, but he makes an annual appearance in a police report for substance-related charges.
If the Chiefs don't draft a first-round wideout, Roberts, cap considerations in mind, may be the club's best bet. And due to a number of high-priority contract issues, he's all but certain to test the free-agent waters.
In terms of frame, Roberts (5'11" and 195 pounds) virtually mirrors Avery. However, he's a sharper route-runner with markedly better hands and open-field elusiveness. He also comes packaged with 4.4 speed, per NFLDraftScout.
Roberts is a consummate pro on and off the field (which isn't surprising, given his military upbringing), and his contract will likely be comparable to Avery's as well. Low risk, high return.
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