In 2010, the Kansas City Chiefs seemingly came out of nowhere to win the division. Few predicted a repeat in 2011 thanks to the other talent in the division as well as their schedule. Early on, the Chiefs lost a number of their most talented young players (Tony Moeaki, Jammal Charles, Eric Berry) which made everyone else count them out. To their credit, though, they did make a run late in the season.
Now those players are back, and the Chiefs have a roster full of rising stars. In fact, they could be just a few pieces of the puzzle away from a Super Bowl run. While bringing back Dwayne Bowe is the next step, there are a few moves on offense that could make this team scary and fast.
The Chiefs have been aggressive under GM Scott Pioli in upgrading via free agency, bringing in Steve Breaston, LeRon McClain and Kelly Gregg last offseason. They have already added Stanford Routt this past month to bolster the secondary. Here are a few more players the Chiefs might consider via free agency to help them compete with the best in the league.
Primary Need: Right Tackle
The Chiefs have used a few high draft picks in recent years to try and solidify a strong offensive line. It took a few years for Branden Albert to become a good left tackle, but if the last five weeks are any indication of his future, then Kansas City is fine there. He allowed just one hit and two pressures earning a +6.6 grade in that span. More recently, Jon Asamoah and Rodney Hudson were picked to play in the middle of the line, while Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann looked like they still have some left in the tank. However, at the right tackle spot, Barry Richardson (-39.1) has been a liability to say the least. He allowed 50 overall pressures, and had the lowest run block rating of all tackles.
Because Richardson is a free agent, it would be easy to let him go and find a replacement. While it’s possible the Chiefs bring back Wiegmann who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and move one of their players to tackle, it would be better for the Chiefs long-term to bring in someone. Anthony Collins of the Bengals would be the best choice to take over the right tackle spot. The Chiefs have built their line around strong pass protectors, and Collins fits that mold. In his last 302 pass plays dating back to 2009, he has allowed just five pressures, with no sacks or hits.
Secondary Need: Quarterback
In 2009, the Chiefs decided to roll the dice with Matt Cassel after one year as a winning quarterback in New England. While he showed some sparks in that year as a Patriot, he also had a number of really bad games. That trend continued in Kansas City, where over the last two and a half years there has been some good, but the bad (-28.9 combined in his KC career) has outweighed the good and now he is coming off of injury. In four starts Tyler Palko convincingly showed he wasn’t the answer either. While Kyle Orton had one good game against the Packers, there are better quarterbacks out there.
The name that could make the most sense is Chad Henne (+3.9). He has shown some sparks in Miami, and the Chiefs new offensive coordinator is Brian Daboll who most recently was the offensive coordinator of the Dolphins. If the Chiefs are in a “win now” mindset, David Garrard after a year off, should be ready to lead an offense from day one. Although he’s not a free agent yet, if the Chiefs were to bring in Peyton Manning and he was even close to being fully healthy, they would instantly become one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.
Tertiary Need: Running Back
In 2010, Jamaal Charles was our highest-rated running back in the league with a well earned +25.5 grade. He played just 37 snaps in 2011 after suffering an ACL injury. While Charles is talented, the Chiefs like limiting his carries and having two people carry the load. While they have Dexter McCluster (+8.5) , he is typically used for passing downs rather than running ones. Both Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle are free agents. Battle will likely want to go to a place where he can get more carries, while Jones will be 34 at opening day. Kansas City will likely want to find a running mate for Charles that can shoulder the load early in the season as he gets his legs underneath him again.
It also makes sense for Kansas City to bring in a bigger back because Charles and McCluster are smaller in size. Teams like to take players from teams within their division, so Mike Tolbert (+6.7) might be the best fit. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry or better in nearly half of his games, while also having the fourth most receptions of any back at 54. He would be able to fight with McCluster for passing downs, while giving Charles a rest for running downs.