The initial wave of free agency yielded a boost along the defensive front for the Kansas City Chiefs. But head coach Andy Reid's team still needs a wide receiver, and that could mean turning to one of his former players.
Reid and general manager John Dorsey will also be mindful of the need to replenish an offensive line that was stripped bare by the first round of free agency.
Beginning first at wide receiver, it is likely to be a case of one former Philadelphia Eagle over another if the Chiefs return to the veteran market to bolster their passing attack.
Reid might opt to do that considering both DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant are likely to be available. But a move for Jackson, albeit more exciting than signing Avant, seems unlikely.
Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star reports the Chiefs won't pursue a possible trade for Jackson. Paylor thinks the only way Reid looks the way of his former multipurpose playmaker is if the Eagles release Jackson.
That is a legitimate possibility, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News:
Could Jets be in hunt for DeSean Jackson? Source tells me: "Philly is trading him or cutting him.That's a fact. They don't want him" #nyj— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 22, 2014
But if Jackson does get thrown on the scrapheap, Paylor rightly argues the Chiefs should still be cautious about acquiring him:
Now, a couple things here. If I were the Chiefs, would it worry me if the Eagles dumped a legitimate playmaker coming off a big season? You bet. Something doesn't add up there, and there have always been questions about Jackson's character. But if the Chiefs do make a run at him, my concerns would be eased because that means Reid likely vouched for the guy. He drafted him and coached him for four years, so he knows what Jackson is and who he is. It's my impression the Chiefs aren't terribly fond of troublemakers, so if they don't go after him, that would tell me something, too.
Paylor's concerns are valid, especially for a squad whose unity played as big a role as anything else in jumping from 2-14 to 11-5 in one year.
The doubts swirling around Jackson could convince Reid that a move for Avant is his best option. The 30-year-old has already been linked with joining Kansas City, per a tweet from Paylor:
I’m told the #Chiefs indeed have interest in former Philly WR Jason Avant.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) March 11, 2014
Avant makes a lot of sense because he offers the Chiefs offense something it didn't have last season, namely a sure-handed pass-catcher.
Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins both offer the vertical speed Jackson would bring to the aerial attack. But Avant would give quarterback Alex Smith a target he could really trust.
Working out a short-team deal for a player who knows his offense would be a smart move from Reid.
Of course, even bringing Avant on board won't stop Reid and Dorsey running the rule over the deep wide receiver talent pool in the 2014 NFL draft.
Two of the latest mock drafts put a pair of talented flankers on the Chiefs' radar. CBS Sports analyst Will Brinson has Odell Beckham Jr. heading to Kansas City as the 23rd overall pick.
This thought echoes the post-Super Bowl draft predictions of Bleacher Report columnist Matt Miller.
Beckham is a wideout with frightening vertical speed who is flexible enough to attack from anywhere on a formation. That makes him a great fit in Reid and coordinator Doug Pederson's offense, a system built on freeing fleet-flooted playmakers in space in a variety of ways.
But Beckham isn't the only versatile burner the Chiefs will ponder this May.
Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks believes Kansas City will opt instead for ex-USC ace Marqise Lee. He is a more traditional outside receiver than Beckham.Straight-line speed is the feature of Lee's game, as CBS Sports reporter Rob Rang highlights:
Explosive straight-line speed that makes pressing him risky for even talented cornerbacks. Remarkably fluid athlete, capable of changing directions quickly and shows developing savvy as a route-runner, often using a hesitation move and shoulder-dip to get defenders off-balance.
His vision, elusiveness and acceleration make him a terror after the catch, whether as a receiver or returner.
The fact that both Lee and Beckham are dynamic as return men is certain to interest Reid and Dorsey. The Chiefs will target a return ace this May, according to ESPN reporter Adam Teicher.
He points to Dexter McCluster leaving in free agency, along with the failure to land Devin Hester, as major factors why.
Once Reid has had his fill of searching for wide receiver help, he will surely spare a thought or two for his O-line. The group saw Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz all ride free agency's wave to pastures new.
Sadly, the veteran market doesn't offer many viable alternatives in the Chiefs' limited price range. Dorsey has $4,702,068 in remaining cap space, per figures from Spotrac.com.
It's unlikely the Chiefs have enough fiscal muscle to tempt Davin Joseph, the best guard left in free agency, to Kansas City.
Reid will have to decide if he's enamoured with 32-year-old zone-blocking specialist Wade Smith or powerful trench warrior Uche Nwaneri.
If neither of those veterans inspires much excitement, Reid and Dorsey must turn to the draft. In his latest mock, WalterFootball.com writer Walter Cherepinsky has the Chiefs snaring UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo at No. 23.
Cherepinsky even has the Chiefs targeting the line again in Round 3, selecting Stanford offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.
Given the level of talent they lost, coupled with the paucity of it left over after free agency's first wave, the Chiefs would be wise to pay this much attention to their offensive front.
With the defense still settled and brimming with impact players, fixing the O-line and adding some dynamism at wide receiver, must remain the priorities for Reid and Dorsey this offseason.