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First Day of Free Agency Leaves Holes In Chiefs Roster

In the first hours of free agency, the Chiefs lost T Branden Albert (L), guard Geoff Schwartz (C) and guard Jon Asamoah (R)

For a time Tuesday it was like a revolving door was attached to the Chiefs locker room and it just kept spinning as player after player ran away from Kansas City and grabbed the dollars in the first hours of free agency:

  • Branden Albertgone, to the Miami Dolphins for $46 million over five seasons with $25 million guaranteed.
  • Jon Asamoahadios, as he moved on to the Atlanta Falcons on a deal that averages $4.5 million per year.
  • Dexter McClusterarrivederci, as Dex is off to Nashville to join the Tennessee Titans for $12 million over three seasons and $4.5 million guaranteed.
  • Tyson Jacksonsayonara, as he too landed in Hot-lanta for a five-year deal at $25 million.
  • Geoff Schwartzauf Wiedersehen, with the guard coming off his honeymoon to sign with the Giants.

By the end of the first 12 hours of free agency, the Chiefs had lost five, added none and re-signed safety Husain Abdullah. No details yet on his new deal.

In free agency, there are no extra touchdowns that come from scoring big on the first day. The reverse of that is the off-season is not a disaster if a team does not rack up a half-dozen signings in the first moments of free agent shopping.

But there’s no arguing that on the day after the start of the signing period, the Chiefs are not as good a team as they were at the end of the 2013 season. They lost five contributing players, three starters and two Pro Bowl players. The average age of those five players was just 26.7 years.

There’s no way to sugarcoat the blow to the offensive line, a group that started slowly last year in Reid’s offense. But in the second half of the season, they improved and so did the Chiefs offensive attack. The group’s two best performers were Albert and Schwartz. If Andy Reid moves Eric Fisher to left tackle, the o-line will have three unsettled positions: both tackles and right guard. Combined with a very average center in Rodney Hudson and a below average left guard in Jeff Allen and there’s trouble brewing for the offense.

So why did all this happen? Every situation is different, but these departures all rest on a foundation that comes with the Chiefs attempts to sign both quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston to new and richer deals. With the Chiefs sitting just under $10 million in available cap space, maneuvering is pretty tight to stay under the $136 million limit. Smith and Houston already account for just under $9.6 million in the cap, and both are in the final seasons of their contracts. Whenever the new deals come on line, they are going to jolt the Chiefs cap number. It would seem the Chiefs are hoping to spread to reaction over two seasons, and that may be why there are being very guarded in how they are handling their cap dollars right now.

It’s always more than one thing, however. Here are some individual reasons why those five players are gone:

Albert – The Chiefs knew the price tag for Albert was going to be somewhere north of a $9 million per-season average. With Smith and Houston, that was out of the team’s price range. The big blocker’s future with the Chiefs was sealed after the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons when former G.M. Scott Pioli couldn’t get a deal done at that time. An extension or new contract in any of those years would have come at a smaller price tag than what he received from the Chiefs last year as the club’s franchise player or what he’s now getting from the Dolphins.

Asamoah – In the second half of last season it became quite apparent Reid and his coaches did not see Asamoah as one of their five best blockers. He was injured, Schwartz grabbed the starting job and did not let go. I’m sure the Chiefs would have liked to have kept Asamoah, but not at an average of $4 million per-season that he got from the Falcons.

McCluster – From the time he joined the team in 2010, McCluster was a piece of the roster puzzle that didn’t quite fit. He was a big part of the Chiefs last season as a receiver and returner, but the young man has limitations because of his size. Reid got more out of him than any previous coach, but what McCluster gave in 2013 may be as good as it ever gets. As a specialist, he wasn’t going to be able to command big dollars, but his deal with the Titans averages out to $4 million per season and that type of deal wasn’t going to be anything the Chiefs wanted to squeeze under their salary cap.

Jackson – In the future, T-Jax, his children, his grandchildren and his great grandchildren should make sure they always send a Christmas card to Scott Pioli. As long as Tyson doesn’t blow it all, the family fortune will be built on two contracts negotiated with Pioli – his $57 million rookie contract and the $25 million he signed for on Tuesday. That’s roughly $82 million and he’s been a mediocre defensive end. A part-time player since he’s not much of a pass rusher, the Chiefs were never going to spend that type of money on a first-down defensive end.

Schwartz – It sounds like last year’s o-line surprise really didn’t view Kansas City as the place for future employment. No question he was going to see good offers in free agency, likely numbers the Chiefs would find tough to match. The sense is that Schwartz colored himself gone as soon as the playoffs were over.

Ultimately, how badly wounded the Chiefs were from the first hours of free agency won’t be known until Reid and Dorsey replace their left tackle, right guard, punt returner and slot receiver, backup guard and starting defensive end. If they can do that, plus get Smith and Houston under new contracts, then the revolving door on the Chiefs roster will be forgotten.

Until that time, we must say that the Chiefs did not get better on Tuesday, and that’s never a good sign.


21 Responses to “First Day of Free Agency Leaves Holes In Chiefs Roster”

  • March 11, 2014  - R W says:

    First rate analysis, Bob. First rate.


  • March 11, 2014  - napahank says:

    After I calmed down from the initial shock, I started reading everything I could find on “why” they let both guards, TJax, Dex and Albert go. Here is the common thread of what I have discovered.

    Chiefs ran more of the Pistol Offense in the second half of the year and it produced. They want to run (more) of the Pistol Offense especially against the AFC West which requires more athletic (and even more intelligent) linemen.

    The line of LT-Fisher, LG-Allen, C-Cush (why he was drafted), RG-Hudson (drafted as a guard) and RT-Stephenson is an ideal fit. It may take them a little time to mesh but they could be together for years to come. If the Chiefs could draft Martin then it would be even sweeter.

    Also, don’t discount what Kelce, Nico and Sanders C. will bring to 2014 that we didn’t have in 2013. Everyone has said how TJax was good against the run but added nothing to the pass defense. In the pass-happy AFC West (and AFC) we need Bailey more than T-Jax.

    People may say four of the players I have mentioned in this post are “unproven”. That may be true but they ALL have a year with the team under their belt and will have two training camps under Reid. Besides, every teams new players whether drafted or FA’s are “unproven” with their new team.

    We may ALREADY be better in 2014 than we were in 2013 and we may just not know it yet!


  • March 12, 2014  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Thanks Bob for your usual comprehensive and insightful post. It’s always a shock when as many contributors leave as we had exit the first day but the perspective is good to have. It’s far too early to judge what our roster will end up looking like. We have the second wave and rest of free agency to come as well as the draft. It’s like getting a number of body blows in the first round of a fifteen round title fight. Let’s see what happens.


  • March 12, 2014  - milkman says:

    Other than Reggie White, can anyone remember a free agent who REALLY made a big difference to their new team for several years? Does anyone remember the “dream team” assembled in Philly a few years back that was supposed to cake walk to the Super Bowl? I’ll bet Andy Reid does.

    It’s pretty apparent Pioli is in Atlanta now, and he has Dimitroff’s ear. Good point Bob.

    Before we get too anxious about yesterday’s moves, let’s see what Dorsey and his team can do. At least for now, he seems to be a man of his word who wants to build this team through the draft. It’ll be nice to see this team after he’s had at least as many drafts as Pioli did. We all know how that turned out.


  • March 12, 2014  - ChuckXX says:

    I think out of this group DEX is going to be missed the most. He had the rare ability to change a game with his kickoff and punt returns and his ability to get open and take it to the house. I will truly miss the little guy. This is a classic example of why its so tough to win a Super Bowl- as you are continually starting over in many regards.


  • March 12, 2014  - Petey says:

    Milk…

    Drew Brees, off the top of my head.

    ~Petey


  • March 12, 2014  - TimR says:

    Great analysis Bob… However, I don’t necessarily agree with all of your conclusions. We will be better financially & in football terms with a different player than Tyson Jackson. Dexter was a luxury item whose value was one great year as a return man. As a regular player, he went down FAR too easily. Albert was good, but not that good. I think you’re way too critical of Fisher too soon. We’ll find a couple of guards. We’ll find a more productive bigger player to take Dexter’s role.


  • March 12, 2014  - Niblick says:

    There is a good side to losing all these free agents. We will be getting some compensatory picks in the 2015 draft. How many and what rounds is yet to be determined. Dorsey went on a frenzy last year when we had tons of cap money. Franchised Albert. signed Bowe to a big long term contract. Signed Sean Smith, Fassano, DeVito, Robinson, Avery and to big contracts. We can all debate whether they were good decsions, but it shows what a difference a year makes when you have huge cap space and very little cap space..


  • March 12, 2014  - R W says:

    As the free agency period rolls on, I think when the dust all settles a bit with the 2d and 3d waves rolling in over the next 5-7 days, we’ll have a better understanding of where the Chiefs are and going with their roster going into the draft. I fully expect to see 2-3 more acquisitions that address needs at S, LB, and yes, OL.

    In addition, this is said to be the deepest and best WR draft pool in decades so there’s that to keep in mind. I also think we’ll see some restructuring of current deals to free up more cash to recover from the jailbreak exodus of all the guys that left on FA-day1.

    Right now, it’s hard to see how the Chiefs will compete against the likes of Denver in 2014 but perhaps the mindset of Dorsey/Reid is moving toward making a run in 2015? I’m not sure but one thing that is, is the high drama of this off-season will CONTINUE.


  • March 12, 2014  - aPauled says:

    Nice article Bob. Completely agree with your assessment that the losses leave holes in the Chiefs roster and the conclusion that we won’t know how badly we were wounded for a while. In today’s NFL you can’t be emotionally tied to a player and honestly there’s not a one of those guys leaving that was an anchor on this team.

    Albert was above average…but not great…and not available every week. Can’t put $9M on that. Would have been nice if we could have gotten Schwartz signed mid-season…but investing big $$ at OG is not a winning formula either. We have some young talent on the O-Line…supplement with some vets (like 2013 Schwartz) and it seems that the Chiefs have done what Had to Be Done.


  • March 12, 2014  - el cid says:

    Got no problem with players going and coming, it is the way of the NFL. Hard to swallow that many starters walking away.

    Only issue I have is the cap has not changed one dollar with their loss. With about 10 million, could not have signed them for more than the minimum anyway.

    How we got there is my problem and why did Dorsey ride this dead horse all last season. He might have considered having a fire sale as opposed to letting this many walk.

    PS, team today has more missing parts than last year. soooo sorry, napahank, we are not stronger and even signing the two stars to long term contract, we will have to use players who never set foot on the field because they are not good enough.


  • March 12, 2014  - ChuckXX says:

    El Cid; I agree that this makes us much weaker not stronger. It would appear atleast at the moment we might be bringing up the rear in our AFC West Division. Remember much tougher schedule as well this upcoming season. Our OL will have lots of new guys and also Fisher is still learning. Hope Alex doesn’t mind getting his pants dirty this season.


  • March 12, 2014  - Niblick says:

    el cid-I’m not sure what you were referring to when you said that perhaps Dorsey should have had a fire sale. I assume you may have been referring to releasing one or more of the higher payed older players, like a Hali or DJ. I’m not sure that would have helped the cap situation that much, depending on the guaranteed money still owed from the signing bnus and other guarantees. They would then get hit with the dead money that is still owed. It did help some in cutting Robinson, but he didn’t have a huge amount of guarnteed money. Just my thoughts, and I could be wrong.


  • March 12, 2014  - el cid says:

    I agree and do not pretend to get the plan by Dorsey. Dynasty type teams get rid of older players even those beloved by fans and with a few years left on their careers. Doubt any of us thought Pioli had put together a dynasty team, so he “might” have gutted the team of players like Bowe and Hali and had a really stinking year last year. Might have saved some of the pain this off season has shown us. Might not.

    Dorsey and Reid first year would have been more acceptable as a pit over making the playoffs then being so strapped that we will likely be un-competitive for 2 years as we rebuild.


  • March 12, 2014  - Ernie Barney says:

    More turmoil and inconsistency on the O line and we lose Dex. TJax? Good luck to him but we won’t miss him. Not sure I agree with ChuckXX about last in the AFC West at the moment but if we don’t shore up our pass D and rushers we very well could be there. Oh, forgot the Raiders have a lock on last place so its not all that bleak.


  • March 12, 2014  - R W says:

    Just saw where Denver completes an all – in trifecta a by getting injury prone..31 years old..Demarcus Ware to sign. Denver tapped out on money for next several years.
    It’s 2014 or fugettaboutit!

    Sets up well for a Chiefs ass kicking on Denver in 2015…and beyond. OK…I’m a homer but looks that way to me.


  • March 12, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I don’t think I will sleep well tonight.

    Revolving doors worry me.


  • March 12, 2014  - TimR says:

    We’re transitioning out of important positions being on old rookie contracts before the new scale & 2nd contracts that were based off those. We need to re-work Berry, draft Hali’s replacement and get another young ILB in the pipeline. This create a better spreading out of contracts. If we hit on some CBs, Flowers will have leverage against him too. On O, we keep after O linemen and WRs


  • March 12, 2014  - Craig says:

    Great article Bob! I agree with your assessments. There is no way to surgarcoat losing 5 starters. How bad the hit to the team will be determined in a few months. I really think Dorsey and Reid want their own guys. Best wishes to all the players as they got great deals. Most players got their deals, that will not be matched again. Green Bay built thru the draft. The compensation picks in 2015 will be nice. GO Chiefs!!!


  • March 12, 2014  - johnfromfairfax says:

    The doom and gloom has descended upon Arrowhead quickly. We lost players but of those we lost only Albert was above average and perhaps DMC as a returner. Let’s wait to see what we do through the rest of free agency and the draft before we declare that we’ve become the worst team in the league again.

    As far as the purge we could have had last year in the quest to become better this year or next… Are you kidding? I mean, seriously. We won 11 games last year and went to the playoffs. Remember that phrase “you play to win the game!” We went from the worst team in the league to an 11-5 playoff team in one year and probably would have gone deeper in the playoffs if we didn’t suffer a freak rash of injuries in the playoff game.

    I may be in limited company but I just don’t agree that was a mistake and that we should have “dumped” good players last year so we might have a chance to be better next year. Let’s wait until we have our team assembled for this next year before writing it off.


  • March 15, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Crap, I was right. id not sleep …zzzzzz




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