Chiefs and Free Agency 2011

August 10th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge

Kansas City ChiefsI’m excited to be writing about football and the Chiefs. It was a long and boring off-season as the owners and the players haggled over billions of dollars. With a new long-term deal in place, we shouldn’t have to go through this again any time soon.

Just a few quick notes. We’ll take a more in-depth look at the roster in a few days.

Like it or not, the Chiefs have a plan, and they’ve stuck to it. Last year the Chiefs signed a group of veterans that included guard Ryan Lilja, center Casey Wiegmann, running back Thomas Jones, wide receiver Jerheme Urban (who spent the season on the injured reserve) and defensive lineman Shaun Smith. The fans and the media were underwhelmed. But the Chiefs improved by six games over the season before, and won the AFC West.

This year the media had higher expectations. Misunderstanding the labor agreement, many in the media thought that the Chiefs would be forced to be more aggressive in free agency in order to reach a league minimum for team salary — though if they’d been paying better attention, they’d have realized that the new minimum doesn’t kick in for a couple years.

And apparently they haven’t been paying attention to the Pioli plan in the first place.

Ravens Kelly GreggThis year the Chiefs have signed defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le’Ron McClain and wide receiver Steve Breaston. But more importantly, in the last year, the Chiefs have re-signed and extended long-term contracts for linebackers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Andy Studebaker, and running back Jamaal Charles. My expectation is that before this season is over, the Chiefs will have new deals with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and cornerback Brandon Flowers.

I love the plan.

The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles have made the most news with their acquisitions this year. But Super Bowls are not won by big splashes in free agency. They’re won by drafting well, developing your players from within, and plugging a few holes with the right veterans. Look at the recent success of teams like the Packers, the Steelers, the Colts and other Super Bowl winners. You would have included the Patriots in this group while they were winning championships, but they’ve crossed over to the darkside of free agency and appear to be trying to buy one final Super Bowl before Tom Brady and Bill Belichick retire. These winning organizations don’t often sign the “big name” free agents. They draft and develop their core players.

The Chiefs have the right plan, and are executing it well. They have plugged holes in their roster through the draft and free agency. And with continued player development, the Chiefs will be better again this year.

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