Ranking the Kansas City Chiefs' Best Remaining Free Agency Options

Brett GeringCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2014

Ranking the Kansas City Chiefs' Best Remaining Free Agency Options

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports|Edited by Brett Gering

    By now, if you're a Kansas City Chiefs fan, free agency probably has you reading this from an iPhone next to a watered-down Jack and Coke, laying just below a muffled bar speaker blaring some sulky Kenny G ballad. (How that man became an international sensation is, and always will be, beyond me. But to each his own.)

    Despite what the Twitterverse—which, as we all know, is so insightful and uplifting—would lead you to believe, life as you know it isn't about to undergo a sea change, and there are still Day 1 contributors left on the open market. 

    Is John Elway spending like a drunken MC Hammer? Yes. Did Emmanuel Sanders' agent, Steve Weinberg, just hoist two middle fingers toward Arrowhead? Proudly. 

    But the former is because Denver knows that Peyton Manning's career has one to two more years' worth of juice left to siphon. That being the case, at this rate, the next free agent who visits is bound to watch Elway barge into the room like Oprah, emphatically yelling, "Look under your seattt!" to unveil a back-loaded contract.

    The other nuisance stems from the fact that, judging by Weinberg's track record, he would swap his first-born's baby scrapbook for stock tips. Knowing very little about the man, but gauging by his past experiences, I'm confident his doomsday bunker consists of Swiss-made bottled waters, a signed copy of Don't Hassel the Hoff and enough hair gel to give John Calipari an inferiority complex. 

    Remember, despite the plethora of moving parts—an unfamiliar coaching staff integrating a foreign scheme with a newly acquired quarterback—the Chiefs finished No. 6 in scoring offense (29.6 points per game) last season. The core of that offense, the same one that posted 513 yards on Wild Card Weekend, still remains intact. 

    Nevertheless, perfection eludes all 32 teams, but five free agents can further Kansas City's cause. 

     

    Salary cap and contract information provided by Spotrac (subscription required). Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). 

Ranking Criteria

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Obviously, it's easy to scroll through a list of free agents, spotlight a team's need(s) and whittle the group down to a few household names. 

    That's not only vague, it's equally unrealistic.

    Given that, let's look at four factors on which John Dorsey will place a premium.

     

    Youth

    According to Spotrac, Kansas City has inked 22 reserve/future contracts this offseason—thus far, the most in the NFL

    In a nutshell, reserve/future contracts are typically short-term deals—usually one year in length—for practice-squad talents. Based on their pro experience, players normally accept the minimum base salary, which, for all intents and purposes, doesn't affect the team's salary cap. 

    It's the simplest way for general managers, particularly those strapped for cash, to gather young talent without moving the cap's needle. 

    Basically, John Dorsey, hoping to unearth a gem, has purchased more lottery tickets than his fellow GMs, without opening Kansas City's increasingly bare bank vault. 

     

    Need

    Given Kansas City's cramped cap situation, the Chiefs can't afford luxury buys.

    When combing through free agents, they're going to set their sights on three particular areas of need: wide receiver, free safety and offensive-line depth. 

     

    Fit

    A hard-hitting free safety who totes average speed is of little value in a Cover 1. A traditional, run-blocking destroyer of wills doesn't improve an athletic offensive line in a progressive offense. Unless he excels in space, a 280-pound defensive end doesn't bode well for a 3-4 front, considering he'll be forced to drop weight and convert to outside linebacker. 

    Ever wonder why Nnamdi Asomugha became just another name? He switched from a defense that predominately played man coverage to one that primarily employed zone.

    Different strokes. 

     

    Price

    Kansas City has approximately $6.3 million in cap space, which doesn't include the signings of Vance Walker and Frank Zombo (whose terms haven't been disclosed yet). And regardless of what the remainder reads, the upcoming draft is sure to swallow the lion's share of it. 

    In other words, Dorsey is hunkered over the bargain bin. 

5. Tiquan Underwood, WR

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Tamba Hali and Justin Houston once paid homage to Kid 'n Play, but Tiquan Underwood, with hair that'd droop Waldo Faldo's shoulders, makes both of them look like certified posers. 

    Luckily for him, if he ever slipped up by calling them that, he's quick enough to escape unbruised.

    Underwood just turned 27 in February, and his 4.31 40 time at the 2009 combine still translated onto the field in 2013. The wiry wideout churned out 440 yards and four touchdowns on just 24 receptions, amounting to an absurd 18.3 yards per catch. 

    At 183 pounds, Tampa Bay's former fleet-footed burner tips the scales at roughly the same weight as Donnie Avery, despite measuring two inches taller (6'1"). And unlike most speedsters of his height, Underwood's feet are quick enough to gain separation underneath (via slants, shallow crosses, etc.). 

    For Kansas City, he doesn't fill the void at No. 2 receiver, but the same holds true for Avery. Underwood just happens to be younger, bigger and considerably cheaper.  

4. J'Marcus Webb, OT

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    J'Marcus Webb has always showcased undoubted upside. Now, a coaching staff just needs to help him realize it. 

    Exiting high school, Webb was a highly touted prospect and instantly contributed at Texas. However, due to a variety of issues, he eventually transferred to West Texas A&M and dominated inferior competition.

    In the NFL, Webb has slowly but surely progressed throughout his four seasons. He has the arm length to keep edge-rushers at bay and enough athleticism to latch onto second-level defenders in the open field. 

    The cons? Throughout his career, Webb has battled a variety of concerns regarding his mental makeup, ranging from intelligence (which I personally don't believe to be a problem) and dedication, to self-entitlement. 

    Furthermore, he embodied those demons while his pro premiere tasked him with blocking for Jay Cutler—a quarterback who's no stranger to media thrashings himself—which made for a perfect storm.

    If anything, Webb is guilty of being aloof, but Reid has welcomed no shortage of vexing personalities in the past and largely flipped said situations into success stories. 

    After starting in 44 of his first 46 NFL games, the towering 330-plus-pounder only partook in 108 snaps last season, yet he gave up just one sack, one quarterback hit and two hurries within that span. Pro Football Focus also marked him with a positive run-blocking grade. 

    Webb is capable of anchoring either side of the line, and he has the physical tools to dispirit whoever stands across from him.

    If anyone can rejuvenate a player whom most have deemed a lost cause, it's Reid. And based off ESPN's Adam Caplan's report, Big Red has, at the very least, entertained the thought. 

3. Jason Avant, WR

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Jason Avant will turn 31 in April. But while he may not be in his prime, he's a workout warrior who knows every last nuance of Andy Reid's offense. 

    Avant is a solid route-runner with catcher's mitts for gloves, consistently snatching everything within arm's reach.

    Ultimately, he's a stop-gap slot solution who, due to this age, will come packaged with an affordable price tag.

    Avant still has a few years of production in his future, and at this point, that's all that Reid is searching for. 

2. Joe Morgan, WR

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press

    Free agency still boasts a number of worthwhile receivers, including James Jones, Jerricho Cotchery, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Sidney Rice and Josh Morgan. However, as of today, the Chiefs haven't been linked to a No. 2 wideout (Avant occupies the slot) who will be over 27 years old by Week 1 of 2014. 

    There's a reason for that.

    Dorsey is looking for two things: wideouts who tout enough youth for Andy Reid to develop, and who exhibit enough speed to stretch the field. 

    Before re-signing with Philadelphia, Jeremy Maclin wasn't the only free-agent wideout whose health raised red flags quicker than the Beijing Olympics.

    Meet Joe Morgan. 

    When healthy, the soon-to-be 26-year-old is a bona fide vertical threat. His skill set is comparable to Donnie Avery's, etching a 4.4 40 time at the 2011 combine and recording a ridiculous 37.9-yard average on 10 catches in 2012. 

    Only, Morgan is four years younger than Kansas City's current No. 2, and due to suffering two torn meniscuses in the past, he would serve as an infinitely more cost-effective speedster for the Chiefs. 

    Avery is scheduled to make $2.85 million this season—a salary that ranks No. 38 among active receivers. If I have to tell you that Avery's skills aren't within a stone's throw of the 38th-best wideout's, then I'm guessing your football acumen begins and ends at Arrowhead. 

    Releasing the current starter would save Kansas City $1.35 million in cap space—which should more than cover Morgan's acquisition—while also freeing up $4.05 million in 2015.

    Per Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, Morgan spent last Wednesday touring One Arrowhead Drive. 

1. Chris Clemons, S

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The fact that Kansas City hasn't been linked to Chris Clemons is somewhat surprising. 

    Dorsey re-signed Husain Abdullah, who, although underutilized, performed incredibly well in 2013, capping the season off with a pair of picks against Andrew Luck on Wild Card Weekend. However, while he's filed under free safety, he doesn't fit the mold as a true deep defender in Cover 1. 

    Sanders Commings, meanwhile, matches the aforementioned mold to a T, but he only played the position sparingly throughout college, and injury has limited his pro experience to a meager three snaps. (And for what it's worth, assuming he converts and doesn't fall victim to deja vu, I would bank on Commings becoming a starter in the not-so-distant future.)

    With Louis Delmas packing his bags for South Beach, Chris Clemons doubles as the only trustworthy free agent who fits the bill for Kansas City.

    Make no mistake, though, while Delmas will take Clemons' place, the latter of the two is a better cover defender—he's just likely to cost more (partially due to Delmas' injury history as well). 

    Clemons is a willing but inconsistent run supporter, periodically misjudging angles while in pursuit. But from a coverage standpoint, he's one of the better deep safeties in the NFL.

    Within that context, Pro Football Focus ranked him No. 9 among safeties (including strong) last year, as he held targets to a 52.4 percent completion rate. 

    At age 28, the vet is still enjoying his prime, but he also owns enough experience to groom Commings and instantly shore up Kansas City's back end.

    Most importantly, though, Clemons flaunts the caliber of sideline-to-sideline closing speed that Cover 1 hinges on—something that Kendrick Lewis desperately lacked, which gave way to the secondary's late-season struggles and head-hanging playoff collapse. 

     

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