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Best UFAs In Chiefs History … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

From the moment it became a fact of NFL life in 1993, free agency has been part of the personnel picture. The next season introduced the salary cap to the league. That limit on salaries was in place until the 2010 season, when the league went without one due to the owners’ decision to end the labor agreement early.

At one point or another over the last 17 years every team in the league has at least dipped a toe in the free agency waters. Some like the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets dove in head first. Others like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts took part on a very limited basis. The rest of the league’s teams – including the Chiefs – were on and off the free agency freeway, sometimes spending millions, other times keeping their wallets hidden.

There’s enough evidence and history now that the league has learned signing a boatload of unrestricted free agents does not guarantee championships, or even more victories than defeats. No team has discovered that fact more than Daniel Snyder and the Redskins. He’s dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars in signing bonuses and salaries to high-priced UFAs and does not have a Super Bowl trophy to show for the expenditure.

And what of the free agency record of the Chiefs? Two of the best running backs to wear a Kansas City uniform came through free agency in Priest Holmes (above) and Marcus Allen. There are others that had a big effect on the team in the last 15 to 20 years.

Here are the best unrestricted free agents the Chiefs have signed in the free agency period since 1993. Plus, there’s one extra from the long forgotten Plan B free agency that came in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

 

#1 – Priest Holmes/Running Back

Entered the NFL – Holmes went undrafted in the 1997 NFL Draft coming out of the University of Texas with a leg he broke in the Big 12 Championship Game. He signed as an undrafted free agent by the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Prior to Chiefs – He spent four seasons (1997-2000) with the Ravens, appearing in 48 games and running for 2,102 yards, including 1,008 yards in the 1998 season.
  • Signed with Chiefs – The Ravens had Jamal Lewis, a one-time first-round draft choice, to run the ball and decided that Holmes was expendable. He signed with the Chiefs in April 2001.

Highlights – In 6 seasons with the Chiefs, Holmes played in 65 games, with 63 starts; He gained 6,070 yards on 1,321 carries with 76 TD runs and added 251 catches for 2,377 yards and 7 TDs; he was named to the Pro Bowl three times (2001-03) and was twice named All-Pro (2002-03); He led the league in rushing in the 2001 season with 1,555 yards and led the league in rushing TDs and TDs with 21 in 2002 and an NFL record 27 in 2003; Holmes retired in November 2007 after suffering a neck injury in a game against Indianapolis; he retired as the Chiefs all-time leading rusher and TD scorer.

#2 – Marcus Allen/Running Back

Entered the NFL – Coming out of the University of Southern California, Allen was the 10th player selected in the first round of the 1982 NFL Draft, chosen by the then Los Angeles Raiders.

  • Prior to Chiefs – Allen spent 11 seasons with the Raiders (1982-2002), running for 8,545 yards in 145 games for Los Angeles and Oakland. He also caught 446 passes for 4,258 yards. At some point he got on the wrong side of Al Davis – most likely involving contract disputes – and was little used for his last four seasons with the Raiders.
  • Signed with Chiefs – As part of a group of players that sued the NFL for free agency in 1991, Allen was granted unrestricted free agent status for 1993. He considered several teams, but eventually narrowed the field to Green Bay and Kansas City. He signed with the Chiefs in June ’93.

Highlights – Along with QB Joe Montana, Allen brought Super Bowl and veteran experience to the Chiefs starting in that 1993 season and there’s no question that his contributions were as important off-the-field as on-the-field. In five seasons with the Chiefs (1993-97), Allen played in 77 games and rushed for 3,698 yards on 932 carries and 30 touchdowns; he caught 141 passes for 1,153 yards and 3 TDs. His 12 rushing TDs in ’03 led the league; Allen retired after the ’97 season, having been in the league for 16 seasons and appearing in 222 games; he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame in 2003.

#3 – Casey Wiegmann/Center

Entered the NFL – He was an undrafted college free agent out of the University of Iowa who signed after the 1996 NFL Draft with the Indianapolis Colts

  • Prior to Chiefs – Wiegmann did not make the Colts roster, but he spent 3 games with the New York Jets and one game with the Chicago Bears in (1997). He then spent three seasons (1998-2000) with the Bears, appearing as their starting center in two of those three seasons.
  • Signed with Chiefs – He was an unrestricted free agent when he signed with Kansas City in the spring of 2001.

Highlights – Wiegmann played seven seasons with the Chiefs (2001-07) and then returned for the 2010 season; overall, he’s appeared and started in 127 games. In his time with the Chiefs, he missed just one game, the opener of the ’01 season as he was recovering from an appendectomy. Since the second game of that season, he’s taken every offensive snap for the Chiefs and then in two years with Denver.

#4 – James Hasty/Cornerback

Entered the NFL – Coming out of Washington State University, Hasty was a third-round choice, pick No. 74 in the 1988 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.

  • Prior to Chiefs – He spent seven seasons (1988-1994) with the Jets, starting 111 games at right cornerback for the New York defense.
  • Signed with Chiefs – As an unrestricted free agent following the 1994 season, Hasty was pursued by both the Chiefs and raiders. He eventually agreed to terms with the Chiefs, playing in Kansas City for six seasons (1995-2000).

Highlights – Hasty appeared in 94 games with 89 starts for the Chiefs; over his time with the red and gold he had 21 interceptions including a league leading 7 picks in the 1999 season; he scored 3 touchdowns on interception returns for the Chiefs; he also had 406 total tackles.

#5 – Dan Saleaumua/Defensive Tackle

Entered the NFL – After his college career at Arizona State University, Saleaumua was selected in the 7th-round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions. He was the 175th player selected.

  • Prior to Chiefs – He spent two seasons and 25 games playing for the Lions. After the ’88 seasons Detroit had to make a decision on whether to protect him or expose him to what was called Plan B free agency.
  • Signed with Chiefs – Saleaumua signed as a Plan B free agent in early 1989 and then spent the next eight seasons (1989-96) playing in Kansas City.

Highlights – One of the most popular Chiefs players in the last 25 seasons, Saleaumua was a fan favorite because although he was a defensive lineman, he had a nose for the football; In 125 games he had 17 fumble recoveries, including 3 that he returned for TDs; he also added 28 sacks, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and a total of 495 total tackles; he finished his career with two seasons in Seattle.

Also considered – DB Mark Collins (1994-96), WR Derrick Alexander (1998-2001), WR Andre Rison (1997-99), LB Marvcus Patton (1999-2002), QB Dave Krieg (1992-93).

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Coming up on Friday: A look at the top CFA – college free agent – signees in Chiefs history.


One Response to “Best UFAs In Chiefs History … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 31, 2011  - Mike W Giddings says:

    Bob, enjoyed reading your articles on the Chiefs best SFA’s and UFA’s. There are some great stories on how some of these players were signed (Proscout Inc was an independent evaluator for the Chiefs from 1977-2009) and credit to the GM, personnel people and coach’s for pulling the trigger and acquiring these great Chief players.




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