Off-Season Moves/AFC Review … A Cup O’Chiefs

The signing of G Ryan Lilja to a three-year contract on Tuesday kept alive what has been a busy 10-day period for the Chiefs in free agency.

In fact, they have been the busiest teams in the league when it comes to adding talent to the roster. They’ve kept six of their own players and signed five UFAs. They’ve kept or added OLB Mike Vrabel, WR Terrance Copper, RB Jackie Battle, WR Chris Chambers, QB Matt Gutierrez, RB Kolby Smith, RB Thomas Jones, WR Jerheme Urban, NT Shaun Smith, C Casey Wiegmann and Lilja (above with Peyton Manning.)

No other general manager in the league has turned in more contracts to the league office in the last two weeks than Scott Pioli. Denver has made nine moves for second spot in the AFC. Over in the NFC, Detroit and Washington also have made nine moves.

For our accounting purposes we are adding up the unrestricted free agents signed or re-signed, the restricted free agents who have signed their tender offer and any players acquired through trades.

When it comes to signing new players, only Pittsburgh can match the Chiefs total of five. That alone is quite a surprise since the Steelers have never been known as a major player in free agency. Like the Chiefs, Pittsburgh has signed a lot of UFAs, but they haven’t been the big name types with big dollars attached to their move.

Among the AFC clubs, Tennessee, Miami, Indianapolis and Houston have signed three players each.

Of course, the player personnel scoreboard in March does not necessarily mean enough points will be available to win games during the season. Agree or disagree with the moves made by Pioli and the Chiefs, they’ve certainly been active on the personnel front and have infused talent to the roster. Adding Lilja helps fill a major void at guard on the team’s offensive line. With the Colts, Lilja worked on the left side. Unless Brian Waters moves to center, the new addition will have to move to right guard.

Lilja is not a Pro Bowl-type performer; if he was the Colts would have never released him. But he brings back to town a six-year career with one of the most successful franchises in the league and one of the most productive offenses in NFL history. He knows what it’s like to play in big games. Lilja will not be blocking for Peyton Manning, so there are some major differences right there, but he might be able to help keep Matt Cassel in a vertical position.

Here is a team-by-team look at what’s gone down in the AFC in the last 10 days. With each team are two numbers. The first is their UFA and RAs that have been re-signed. The second number is the total additions from other teams, acquired through signings or trades. We’ll update the NFC on Thursday.

– The Ravens have been quiet on the free agency front, but they did make the deal with Arizona for WR Anquan Boldin (left) and they signed WR Donte’ Stallworth after he was reinstated by the NFL and then released by Cleveland. On top of that, they were able to keep veteran WR Derrick Mason. Baltimore’s defensive line depth has taken a beating as they’ve lost Justin Bannan (Broncos) and Dwan Landry (Bills).

BUFFALO (2/3) – The Bills biggest moves came this week with the signing of DT Dwan Edwards (Ravens) and LB Andra Davis (Broncos). The only other free agent signed from another team was OT Cornell Green (Raiders) who has a chance to crack the starting lineup. They have had no significant defections from the roster.

CINCINNATI (3/2) – WR Antonio Bryant’s signing beefed up the receiving group for QB Carson Palmer. They also added WRs Chris Davis and Matt Jones who might pump up that position as well. They were also able to keep defenders DT Tank Johnson and S Roy Williams. Cincy’s only losses have been RB Larry Johnson and DT Shaun Smith.

CLEVELAND (3/4) – New man in charge Mike Holmgren has been very active in revamping the Browns roster, leading with the departure of both quarterbacks that have been fighting for the starting job: Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn. Holmgren went out and signed Jake Delhomme and traded for Seneca Wallace. LB Scott Fujita was added for defensive help. There have been eight major players moved off the Browns roster in the last month, including Anderson and Quinn.

DENVER (3/6) – One of the more active teams in free agency so far, the Broncos haven’t been as active as last season. But they’ve still added six players, including an entire revamping of t heir defensive line with DE Jarvis Green (Patriots), DT Justin Bannan (Ravens) and NT Jamal Williams (Chargers). They also kept DE Le Kevin Smith. The addition of QB Brady Quinn makes for an interesting story line for the coming season. They released two ’09 starters who have moved on in LB Andra Davis (Bills) and C Casey Wiegmann (Chiefs).

HOUSTON (2/1) – The Texans have been very quiet in this off-season so far, with their biggest moves coming with the re-signing of WR Kevin Walter and the deal with former Chiefs offensive lineman and UFA Wade Smith (4 years, $12 million.) They suffered a big loss when CB Dunta Robinson left and signed with Atlanta.

INDIANAPOLIS (1/2) – For the Colts, the biggest goal of the off-season was keeping MLB Gary Brackett (right) under contract; they got that done with a last minute deal before the start of free agency. Since then they’ve been active only with offensive linemen: signing former Chiefs G Andy Alleman and OT Adam Terry (Ravens). Supposedly, one of the reasons they parted with Ryan Lilja was they wanted to go bigger along the offensive line. They’ve done that with Alleman (310 pounds) and Terry (330).

JACKSONVILLE (5/2) – The Jaguars have been very quiet in free agency. They were able to keep five of their players off the open market and they added a big money UFA in DE Aaron Kampman (Packers), who signed for 4 years, $24 million. They also added special teams standout and WR Kassim Osgood.

MIAMI (2/1) – Bill Parcells made a big splash early in free agency by signing UFA LB Karlos Dansby (Cardinals) but not much else. He re-signed NT Jason Ferguson and QB Chad Pennington and that’s it. On defense the Dolphins cut loose three starters and lost UFA CB Nate Jones (Broncos) so there are holes to fill on that side of the roster.

NEW ENGLAND (5/1) – As always, the Patriots had a plan approaching free agency. They had a core group of UFAs that they wanted to keep and they’ve got that done, signing five players, including big NT Vince Wilfork to a 5-year, $40 million deal. They couldn’t keep everybody, as they’ve lost DE Jarvis Green (Broncos) and TE Benjamin Watson (Browns). They’ve added one UFA in LB Marques Murrell (Jets).

NEW YORK JETS (2/3) – There have been a lot of headlines for the Jets in this off-season, largely because of a pair of trades that brought CB Antonio Cromartie (Chargers) and sent packing S Kerry Rhodes (Cardinals), the release of leading rusher Thomas Jones and the signing this week of RB LaDainian Tomlinson. They also kept UFA FB Tony Richardson (left), announcing his one-year contract on Tuesday. As one of the final eight teams, they were limited in going after free agents and they really haven’t lost anything in the UFA market to give them more options.

OAKLAND (6/1) – Amazingly, the Raiders did not attack free agency with an open wallet. The only major addition to the roster came through a trade, when they picked up DE/OLB Kamerion Wimbley from the Browns for a draft choice. Among the players they been able to keep are QBs Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye. They’ve parted ways with three starters, including DE Greg Ellis who they picked up last year after he was released by Dallas.

PITTSBURGH (1/5) – It’s remarkable that the Steelers have been as active in free agency this year as any team in the league. They were able to re-sign NT Casey Hampton to a new contract, keeping him off the open market. They’ve also added five players from other teams, including WR Antwaan Randle El and LB Larry Foote who had previously played for Pittsburgh. With the exception of Hampton’s three-year, $21.3 million deal, none of the other contracts were for big money. Several of the additional UFA’s were added for depth and special teams play, an area where the Steelers struggled last season.

SAN DIEGO (3/1) – There has been a parade of talented players moving out of the Chargers locker room and there haven’t been anything coming in the door as replacements. The only addition has been veteran CB Donald Strickland (Jets). Gone are CB Antonio Cromartie (traded to the Jets), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (released and signed by Jets), NT Jamal Williams (released signed by Broncos), special teams standout Kassim Osgood (UFA signed by Jaguars) and TE Brandon Manumaleuna (UFA signed by Bears.)

TENNESSEE (2/1) – Keeping their own has been the No. 1 goal of the Titans this year and they’ve missed only on DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, who left for Detroit on a 4-year, $26 million deal. Tennessee kept starting G Eugene Amano off the market with a 5-year, $25.7 million contract. The only major addition is LB Will Weatherspoon (Eagles).


  • BEARS – sign CB Tim Jennings (Colts).
  • BILLS – signed DT Dwan Edwards (Ravens) and LB Adra Davis (Broncos).
  • BROWNS – re-signed TE Greg Estandia.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed S Sean Jones (Eagles).
  • EAGLES – acquired DE Darryl Tapp from the Seahawks for OLB Chris Clemons and a fourth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft; offered RFA RB Mike Bell of the Saints a 1-year, $1.7 million contract with $500,000 guaranteed. New Orleans has a week to match the offer or lose Bell with no compensation.
  • FALCONS – signed S Matt Giordano (Packers); released CB Tye Hill.
  • JETS – re-signed FB Tony Richardson; signed DE Rodrique Wright.
  • LIONS – re-signed DE Copeland Bryan.
  • PACKERS – signed P Chris Bryan, a punter from Australian Rules Football.
  • TITANS – RFA TE Bo Scaife signed his tender offer.

19 Responses to “Off-Season Moves/AFC Review … A Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 17, 2010  - The Morning Fix: St. Paddy’s Day Edition | Arrowhead Addict | A Kansas City Chiefs blog says:

    [...] Off-Season Moves/AFC Review … A Cup O’ The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Kansas City native is considered a solid performer when healthy, but knee injuries kept him out of part of the 2006 season and all of 2008. [...]

  • March 17, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Crap. Was hoping we might take a look at Andra Davis. Maybe we did…who knows? But, we still need major help at LB.

    All in all, though…I think Pioli is doing a fine job. I would love to know just exactly how he’s “selling” the Chiefs to some of these guys (Jones, Lilja).

  • March 17, 2010  - Niblick says:

    Speaking of LBs, I wonder if the Chiefs might take at look at Joey Porter. I think he’s about the only name LB left in free agency. I don’t know if he has anything left in the tank. I also wonder if they are done in free agency or if there are any upgrades still available, that they they could sign prior to the draft. Even if they draft Berry they could use another safety, especially with Page coming off an injurty. McGraw is really a special teamer, not a starter.

  • March 17, 2010  - Double A says:

    Thanks for the succinct perspective. Much appreciated.

  • March 17, 2010  - jimbo says:

    There will be many more free agents available after the draft & boot camp. I would say the Chiefs are probably done with FA till after the draft. There really is nothing left that I think Pioli is interested in.
    Speaking of Pioli, I’m impressed, period… I’d say there are alot of GM’s out there wanting a bottle of his pixie dust or whatever spell he is casting on our new recruits. Bravo, Sir, Bravo…
    Go Chiefs.

  • March 17, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I think our new coaching staff help with the recruits as well

  • March 17, 2010  - SG says:

    “There really is nothing left that I think Pioli is interested in.”

    No DT or Dorsey trades for draft picks? :-)

  • March 17, 2010  - colby says:

    I don’t think Pioli is finished until the draft. We may still see a trade of some sort. I’m thinking Brodie Croyle and Mike Cox to the Bills for a 3rd rounder?

  • March 17, 2010  - SG says:

    I meant DJ (not DT) with regard to possible trade question.

  • March 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Been out of the area for the Lilja signing but listening to media not from KC. They said:

    1. KCs signing may have been the best of free agency so far.
    2. Pioli really shored up a pitiful unit from 09. Moves might be enough for KC to be a worry for the teams in the West.
    3. Team still short on defensive side (they did not mention the Vrabel resigning). The Chiefs may go strictly defense during the draft (might as well forget OT with first pick, going strictly the best available with each pick).
    4. They expect to see more signings.
    5. The Chiefs are still short another WR. Chambers is good, never mentioned Bowe.
    6. For those who want Hernandez, TE. He is light at 245, not terribly fast or strong blocker. More of a slot receiver than TE. (My comment is we tried Kris Wilson at that and did not work all that well.) They did not care for Berry, leaned toward McClain, LB, or running back, I do not recall name, like Spiller(?).

  • March 17, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    El Cid,

    Excellent review and analysis of the Chief’s off-season to this point. I’m going back and forth with myself over the pick at #5 overall between a LT or MLB but sort of lean toward Pioli taking a McClain over an Okung or Beluga.

    I also think the Gailey connection might result in a trade of some kind with the Bills, as was pointed out by Colby.

  • March 17, 2010  - SG says:

    “I also think the Gailey connection might result in a trade of some kind with the Bills, as was pointed out by Colby.”

    I’ve also heard elsewhere gossip about potential dealing with Miami trading up with us from #12. After talking with my friend who’s a long-time Fins Phan, we just don’t see a Fins-Chiefs deal happening. Based on the current setup, it looks like one of the QB’s might well be there at #5, and best candidates to trade up appear to be Cleveland at #7, Buffalo at #9…both possibly wanting to jump past Seattle at #6.

  • March 17, 2010  - Stiv says:

    I can’t help but chuckle, a few weeks ago people were wailing and gnashing their teeth, hair shirts were flying off the shelves in the KC area, but now all is right in the Kingdom. My confidence is high, but then it was high in January.

  • March 17, 2010  - colby says:

    I’d be surprised if we took anyone other than McClain or Bulaga. Even if Berry is still there I think we pass on him like we passed on Curry last year. McClain and Bulaga seem like Haley/Pioli type of guys.

  • March 17, 2010  - Danny W says:

    McClain performed so poorly in off season work outs. The guy has crones disease and we are not that weak in the middle except for nose tackle.

    I know a lot of guys like Vrabel but he should be a back up slash coach. He only had two sacks last year and an OLB in the three four calls for a sack artist and cover guy as well.

    ROLB could be upgraded, I think Studebaker is good but Jerry Hughs out of TCU or Ricky Sapp Clemson or even Sergio Kindle out of Texas one or maybe all those guys will be there with one of our 2nd round picks and would be an instant upgrade.

    Nose tackle was added in depth with the Smith pick up and safety is still a concern.

    I think Berry would be a wise pick up if Okung isn’t there and he most likely would not be. I would not be suprised if the Chiefs picked up

    I think the best move however is for them to trade down and pick up more picks if possible then take a guy like Buluga or Dez Bryant to fill some seats.

  • March 17, 2010  - el cid says:

    Stiv, I paraphrased what I heard, didn’t say I agreed with all of it. So chuckle all you want, I still want more.

  • March 17, 2010  - Kevin B. says:

    Stiv, you are right. I am a guilty party. I have been relieved to see the Chiefs active and having some degree or level of determination to get better. I do not think the number of people we signed is spectacular, as we picked up some marginal additions I do like that we identified weaknesses, and addressed them through free agency. This should not be applauded by fans but expected. I do not see signing Thomas Jones as spectacular, but rather as necessary, a performance that should be expected from our coaches who fielded a 4-12 team last year. In the normal business world, of which I am a part, excellence often isn’t wished for but expected. I expect wise, pragmatic, elitist, and ahead of the rest thinking from our coaching staff. Anything less would be expecting less from them than from a job paying a normal joe salary. I would think that NFL coaches getting millions with the hopes of millions of people counting on them should not be afforded the luxury of a decent performance. They darn well better be spectacular or they should be fired. As it stands, I think Pioli has done an adequate job at this point, and think he should be expected to progress and keep making improvements.

  • March 17, 2010  - Michael says:

    I’m a big fan of the Pioli/Haley show in KC. I like the moves with the coaches, and believe they alone will increase the wins. I believe this crew will build a winner in KC. I like the personnel moves the team has made so far this season.

    Still, having said that, I give Pioli no better than a C grade for the player personnel moves so far this offseason. The Chiefs got none of the upper level players, and have let too many of the second level guys, players who could really upgrade positions on the team, slip by. Some solid moves;just not enough of them.

    Yes, there are still players out there that could help KC, and I’m waiting to see what Pioli does. The Chiefs brass may know more than all of us put together, but last year that got the team a 4-12 record. And, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t leave them beyond criticism.

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