2013 Team Needs: Kansas City Chiefs
The situation right now in Kansas City is a head coach’s dream. A talented, underachieving roster, a handpicked GM (John Dorsey), and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The only problem is there is no quarterback at the moment and the draft prospects are limited. Still, Andy Reid should feel good about all the options in front of him in Kansas City.
On the free agency side of things, there are a number of decisions to be made. Dwayne Bowe, Glenn Dorsey, Dustin Colquitt, and Branden Albert are all impending free agents at key positions (see the full list), and the Chiefs are pretty tight against the cap. It will be a tricky first year for the former Philadelphia coach, but outside of the three positions detailed below the Chiefs have above-average talent in all other units. Let’s see how they can best address those needs.
I shouldn’t have to tell you how big of a need this is for Kansas City. The struggles of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn were well documented, and that is why they have the No. 1 pick. It is also telling, though, that another one of their needs this offseason is a wide receiver. Quarterbacks can only do so much with the talent given, and when Dwayne Bowe was out injured the quality of play at the receiver position was poor.
I’ll end with this stat on how important of a decision the Chiefs have this offseason: No team in the PFF-era has reached the Super Bowl after finishing outside the Top 10 in PFF passing — in 2012 the Chiefs finished 28th.
Free Agent Fix: Jason Campbell
Chiefs fans might not want to hear this, but there is no one out there this offseason, free agent or rookie, that will magically fix their quarterback woes next season. There just isn’t the same game-ready talent that there was in last year’s draft and — outside of Joe Flacco — the free agent market is barren. Now, there will be some possible names cut or available through trade, as Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, Matt Flynn, and Alex Smith may all hit the open market one way or another, but it’s too early to speculate.
Any quarterback’s name that you would see here will be a long shot. There is probably a 99.9% chance the Chiefs take a quarterback in the draft, and that would be a smart long-term decision. The thing is, Quinn is a free agent and Cassel’s contract is so large that he’ll probably be cut, so they have to bring in someone.
That is why securing a veteran like Jason Campbell could be a successful stop-gap. Whomever the Chiefs draft will most likely not be able to come in and start Day 1. In Campbell’s last full season (2010) he finished with a grade of +0.5, and he has a career rating of 82.5. Campbell could provide a low-cost holdover until they can develop a young quarterback.
Defensive line looms as a position of very serious need for the Chiefs, as two of the three interior positions are up for grabs. It has been reported that new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will stick with a 3-4 alignment, and with the talent they have at outside linebacker that makes sense. What complicates matters on the line is that Glenn Dorsey, Ropati Pitoitua, and Shaun Smith are all unrestricted free agents, and Tyson Jackson’s salary is so large (fourth-highest in the league currently for 2013) that he is expected be cut or restructured. With John Dorsey not tied to Glenn Dorsey or Jackson as his picks, I wouldn’t be surprised if he let both go.
Last year no Chiefs lineman graded positively in pass rushing, and Dorsey was the only positively grade player overall while playing just 115 snaps. When the Chiefs let Wallace Gilberry walk after last season, they essential lost all interior pass rush. The only player that you can say with certainty that will start next season is Dontari Poe, but it will be because of draft position and not necessarily production. Poe was eighth among defensive tackles in Run Stop Percentage, but dead last in Pass Rushing Productivity. The defensive line has been a weak link for a while and will have a different look next season.
Free Agent Fix: Desmond Bryant
An interior pass rushing threat is the biggest need on the Chiefs defense and Desmond Bryant is the best one available. Henry Melton may be more of a proven commodity, but Bryant has better size to translate to a 3-4 end. Bryant is 6-foot-6, 311 pounds and his potential is scary. The Harvard graduate came on especially strong at the end of 2012. Bryant had a pass rushing grade of +16.0 over his last eight games and finished with the fourth-highest Pass Rushing Productivity number among defensive tackles. Because he isn’t as established, he will likely go for less money than Melton. Compared to what they paid Jackson and Dorsey for their production, shelling out the money for Bryant will look like a bargain.
The numbers are ugly at wide receiver outside of Dwayne Bowe. Dexter McCluster had the second-most yards of all their receivers with just 453, but at a paltry 6.5 yards per target. Former first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin collected a Yards Per Route Run of only 1.09. None of those compare to the ineffectiveness of Steve Breaston, though, who managed a YPRR of just 0.49 and only 74 yards.
What do all of these guys have in common? The team is invested in them either because they are high draft picks (Baldwin and McCluster) or pricey free agent signings (Breaston). Their production will improve if the quarterbacking improves, but they have shown nothing to date. The Chiefs can expect some development from Baldwin and McCluster, but talent will need to be added or retained.
Free Agent Fix: Dwayne Bowe
The Chiefs can’t expect a new quarterback to come in and be competitive with the talent they have right now, sans Dwayne Bowe. They know what Bowe is, and that is a sure-fire No. 1 receiver in this league. While everyone else languished, Bowe was a solid as ever. He finished with a YPRR of 2.00 and 800 yards, despite playing in only 11 full games. The Chiefs could draft a wide out or sign one of the other high profile names out on the market, but that would be a risk. Re-signing Bowe would be much less risky as he has proven his worth again and again. Bowe has averaged 955 yards a season over his six-year career, while the Chiefs have averaged only 3,247 yards of total passing. Bringing Bowe back is a no-brainer, and even if it takes another franchise tag, it would be worth the cash.
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