The first week of free agency saw the Chiefs sign three significant free agents; however, they also lost two key players on the defensive line.
In losing Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith along the defensive line, the Chiefs had—and still have—a significant hole to fill at the nose-tackle position. The Chiefs passed on the Aubrayo Franklin sweepstakes and instead brought in a 10-year veteran who may or may not be on the decline.
Unquestionably the biggest signings the Chiefs have made so far in free agency were to bring in Breaston; an aging but still-capable Kelly Gregg; and young, up-and-coming linebacker Brandon Siler.
These players should have an impact on the team and hopefully help improve play on both sides of the ball.
Steve Breaston: B
Breaston was near the top of the free-agent WR class, and the fact that the Chiefs got him was huge.
Breaston had a breakout season in 2008, when he caught 77 balls for 1,003 yards and three scores for the Arizona Cardinals under then offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Breaston has not done much in Arizona the last two seasons. This lack of production was due to several leg injuries and playing with quarterbacks such as Matt Leinart and Max Hall.
With a solid supporting cast around him, look for Breaston to achieve the same level of success he had in 2008.
Breaston will not only be a reliable slot receiver for the Chiefs in 2011, but he most likely will start. Due to the lockout, first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin is experiencing an abbreviated rookie offseason, which will leave him with very limited experience with Haley and the offense. Breaston will be able to step in with his experience in Haley’s offense and give Baldwin time to watch and develop.
The Breaston signing to me is very similar to the Ryan Lilja signing of 2010. Both are solid players who will make the Chiefs offense instantly better.
The only reason this signing does not receive an A is Breaston's injury history. If he is able to stay healthy, he will be a great signing for the Chiefs, but if he still has lingering leg issues, the Chiefs could be getting a player who will miss significant time.
Kelly Gregg: C
As mentioned before, the Chiefs—who were already short at NT—lost both Ron Edwards and Shaun “Perv” Smith. Edwards left for to sign a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers, and Perv left to play for the Tennessee Titans.
These two departures leave a huge hole in the middle of the Chiefs defensive line. Without Ron or Shaun, the Chiefs had Anthony Toribio and rookie Jerrell Powe left on the roster.
To attempt to address this hole, the Chiefs brought in 10-year veteran Kelly Gregg. Gregg, who is out of Oklahoma, played nine years with Baltimore, compiling 124 games started and recording 19.5 sacks.
The problem with Gregg is that he will be 35 next season, and he was just cut by the Ravens, a team with which he had played most of his career. Gregg seems to me to be a Mike Vrabel-type signing.
Gregg is a veteran who knows his position quite well and is known for being a good mentor. It appears Gregg was brought in to fill a need on a short-term basis while he mentors and prepares rookie Powe for the position in the future.
While this was a step in the right direction, the Chiefs need to continue to try and improve this position.
I give this signing a C, not because Gregg isn’t talented, but because the Chiefs chose not to go after a younger and more talented player, such as Aubrayo Franklin. Franklin could help this team more than any other free agent on the market.
It appears the Chiefs had plenty of cap space to go after Franklin but chose not to do so.
Brandon Siler: B
The name Brandon Siler does not make a fan want to jump out of his seat with joy, but this kid is a good football player.
When it was announced that Siler, who had spent his entire four-year career with the San Diego Chargers, would be joining the Chiefs defense, I saw it as a victory.
Siler has averaged 55 tackles over the past two seasons. His main competition in training camp, Jovan Belcher, has averaged 66 tackles the last two seasons. While those numbers make it seem as though Siler is not an upgrade, consider this: Siler only started 12 games the last two season, while Belcher started 20.
Siler is also more of a threat to make interceptions as he has two in his career compared to Belcher's zero.
This signing gets a B because, while Siler was not a huge free-agent signing, he is a young player with lots of upside who will most likely start.
I see this one as victory for the Chiefs. Not only will Siler improve the inside linebacker position, but anything's a little sweeter when it is at the expense of a rival such as the Chargers.