If Old Rules Apply … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Brandon Carr (39), Tamba Hali (91), Wallace Gilberry (92) and Barry Richardson (67) are all without contracts for the 2011 season and the Chiefs need to re-sign all four.

Word out of the NFL meeting in Chicago on Tuesday is that a new labor agreement with the players would include a free agency system that matches what the league used from 1993 through 2009. This would cast aside the changes made last year in the season without a salary cap.

All of this matters to the Chiefs because among NFL teams they have a large number of players without contracts for the 2011 season.

Scott Pioli and his negotiating minions have not been able to get anything done because of the NFL lockout that went down 99 days ago. If the optimism that a deal between owners and players is not a question of if, but when, then at some point the 2011 league year will begin with free agency.

If rumors are correct that the rules will return to normal, then unrestricted free agency would be available after four seasons in the league. A player with three years experience would be a restricted free agent and players with less than three years would be exclusive rights free agents. Reportedly the franchise player designation will be continued and supposedly there are new rules out there that are being negotiated involving the free agency process.

When the NFL went to the lockout, the Chiefs had 24 players in their orbit without deals for the coming season. Under the old rules, here’s how they would break down:  

Franchise Player

1. OLB Tamba Hali 5 seasons

Unrestricted Free Agents

2. LB Charlie Anderson 7 seasons
3. FB Tim Castille 4 seasons
4. WR Terrance Copper 7 seasons
5. QB Brodie Croyle 5 seasons
6. WR Kevin Curtis 8 seasons
7. CB Travis Daniels 6 seasons
8. NT Ron Edwards 10 seasons
9. LB Corey Mays 5 seasons
10. S Jon McGraw 9 seasons
11. C Rudy Niswanger 5 seasons
12. OT Ryan O’Callaghan 5 seasons
13. TE Leonard Pope 5 seasons
14. DL Shaun Smith 6 seasons
15. OLB Mike Vrabel 14 seasons
16. C Casey Wiegmann 15 seasons

Restricted Free Agents

17. RB Jackie Battle 3 seasons
18. CB Brandon Carr 3 seasons
19. TE Brad Cottam 3 seasons
20. FB Mike Cox 3 seasons
21. DE Wallace Gilberry 3 seasons
22 CB Maurice Leggett 3 seasons
23. OT Barry Richardson 3 seasons

Exclusive Rights Free Agents

24. S Reshard Langford 2 seasons

Will the Chiefs re-sign all 24 players? No, but it won’t be because of money. There’s appears little question that the new labor agreement will include a hard cash floor that requires teams to spend a percentage of the yearly cap number. Reportedly that percentage stands at 90 percent. If that’s the case, then the Chiefs are going to have to spend a lot of money to reach that level.

The money will be there, the questions become a matter of interest in keeping certain players. There are names that likely will not call Kansas City home this fall for the ’11 season; figure that Leggett, Cottam, Curtis, Croyle and Anderson will not draw any extended interest from the Chiefs. It’s hard to see how any of them fit into the ’11 roster or beyond.

Who will they sign? What direction Pioli/Haley may go will be interesting to watch, but here would be my shopping list for those remaining 19 players:

  • MUST SIGN (4) – Carr, Gilberry, Hali and Richardson.

That’s three starters and the two best pass rushers on a team that has posted rather anemic sacks numbers in recent seasons. It quite simply should be a no brainer with all four. Richardson established last year that he can play the right tackle position and he deserves the opportunity to show that he can improve and that we haven’t seen the best he has to offer. It helps the Chiefs chances given that three of the four are restricted free agents and will have impediments in their way of actually moving on.

  • SOME INTEREST IN SIGNING (2) – Edwards, Smith.

Big guys on the defensive line are not always easy to find and the Chiefs understand what they would be getting if they inked either one. Edwards provides a solid if mediocre presence in the middle. Smith has to prove that his performance last season was not a fluke and that he can continue to keep his temper and attention span under control.

  • POSSIBLE BUT NOT NECESSARY (7) – Copper, Cox, Daniels, Langford, Niswanger, O’Callaghan, Pope.

With any of these players, there are two questions – can they step into the starting lineup if necessary and perform, and what can they provide in the kicking game? Copper was the special teams leader last year and should draw the most interest. Niswanger and O’Callaghan do bring some experience to backup roles, but there’s no upside for either one of those guys. Same goes for Pope at tight end. Cox is Cox – a fullback that is limited in his special teams involvement. Until he was injured last year, Langford was putting together a fine season in the kicking game so he might be a player to re-up. Daniels is a six-year veteran with no upside.

  • TIME TO MOVE ON (3) – Battle, Castille, Mays.

Battle and Mays provide some production in the kicking game, but there’s no future for either one at their positions. Castille had little special teams presence to go with his 15 touches for 46 yards.

  • UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS (3) – McGraw, Vrabel, Wiegmann.

Those conditions would be whether the players would be willing to play a reduced role during the 2011 season. I think the Chiefs would love to have their savvy and experience available, but it’s time for youth to be served at safety, outside linebacker and center.

When it’ all said and done, I would expect Pioli/Haley to sign less than half of those 24 players, more likely something along the lines of eight or nine players. As much as they have talked about the personnel process never ending, they have to be out there not only looking to improve the top of the roster with draft choices and maybe a UFA signing, but also the middle and bottom of the roster.

With the rules pushed back to four years, there are going to be more bodies available in this year’s free agency rumble than last year. There should be names that can improve the talent level than those already in town.

10 Responses to “If Old Rules Apply … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 22, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I’m in the pro-smith camp. Kind of meh about Edwards though, if we can’t pick up someone decent, we might as well give him another season and let Haley ride his ass until we get better production or until we can find someone else.

  • June 22, 2011  - RW says:

    Excellent overview, really good. I think the last paragraph in the story is most telling in that the free agency pool will very much be a factor in who’s a leave-in or a leave-out.

    Once a new CBA is in place, the starter’s gun will sound and we’ll see something very similar to the Oklahoma land rush as teams start rushing to get FA talent in for workouts and signings. This process will go a long way in determining the guys mentioned above as to their status as Chiefs players in 2011.

    Let that starter gun sound and soon!

  • June 22, 2011  - el cid says:

    Would have liked to get the insider story on why Hali was not signed after the season. Something is wrong with this.

    RW, you do not have the lowest (substitute – cheapest) player payroll for the past 2 yrs by “rushing to get FA talent” so do not be surprised if the Chiefs pass on most, they did win 10 games with inexpensive talent.I figure a major change in policy if they find 5 FAs, all starters not backups.

  • June 22, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I thought Hali was given the franchise tag prior to the lockout. I think it would still aply as the franchise tag is supposed to remain in the new CBA. Perhaps I’m wrong, and he will have be re-signed or re-designated as the franchise player.

  • June 22, 2011  - RW says:

    El Cid,

    Bob did mention the proposed cash ceiling/floor in his report with the floor being 90% of the cap number which would require the Chiefs to spend a considerably larger sum than previously.

    Like or not, Clark Hunt will be opening the checkbook for talent and the Chiefs should be in the fray for upgrades.

  • June 22, 2011  - el cid says:

    Hope so, with a new CBA things may change but history says the Chiefs are not league leading in opening the bank. What date that will occur may be this year or for some future date.

    I believe Hali has the tag but is that the best way the Chiefs need to handle one of their top defender?

  • June 22, 2011  - Niblick says:

    I agree. It is not the best way to handle one of their top players. However, it does give them some time to perhaps work on a long term deal. He’s getting over 10 million per year with the tag. I think Pioli will get a deal worked out, even during the upcoming season. He got deals with Charles and Derrick Johnson during the season last year.

    Last year seems like an eternity. I’m ready for some football.

  • June 22, 2011  - who knows says:

    must sign langford as a 4th safety for special teams

    give long deals to carr and richardson and hali

  • June 22, 2011  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    Good analysis. I think the Chiefs will step up if there’s a floor. They have a tougher schedule and need some upgrades to compete. However, this team is a lot further along than in recent previous years. I’m with everybody else and to use RW’s analogy, ready for the starter’s gun to sound. Let’s get the party started.

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