Chiefs Free Agents 2011January 14th, 2011 by Lee Eldridge
The lack of an NFL collective bargaining agreement will make this an interesting off season. The Chiefs have quite a few players without contracts for 2011. Typically, some of those free agents are restricted or exclusive rights free agents, which means that their team still maintains some control over that player’s future. But without a collective bargaining agreement, nobody knows if these designations will still exist in the new NFL landscape.
Here are the players who do not have contracts for 2011: CB Brandon Carr, DT Ron Edwards, LB Tamba Hali, T Barry Richardson, C Casey Wiegmann, LB Charlie Anderson, RB Jackie Battle, FB Tim Castille, WR Terrance Copper, FB Mike Cox, QB Brodie Croyle, CB Travis Daniels, LB Cory Greenwood, DE Wallace Gilberry, S Reshard Langford, CB Maurice Leggett, LB Corey Mays, S Jon McGraw, C Rudy Niswanger, T Ryan O’Callaghan, TE Leonard Pope, DL Shawn Smith and LB Mike Vrabel.
The Chiefs have already extended contracts with RB Jamaal Charles, LB Derrick Johnson, LS Thomas Gafford and LB Andy Studebaker.
My plan is that over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the offense, defense and special teams. Today is just to shed some light on the fact that the Chiefs have a lot of decisions to make with their own free agents. Here would be my priorities:
1. LB Tamba Hali: In my opinion, he’s the best player on the defense. I would have made him a priority to resign over LB Derrick Johnson. Hali finished second in the league with 14.5 sacks. He’s only 27 years old. He’s proven to be a real playmaker. He’s relentless after the quarterback. And he’s perfecting the old Derrick Thomas swipe at the football. He forced four fumbles this year (plus another one in the playoffs against the Ravens), and recovered two of them. It is imperative that the Chiefs sign Hali to a long-term contract.
2. CB Brandon Carr: There were some concerns about Carr’s play early in the season, but he played very well down the stretch. And the Chiefs have no replacement for Carr on the roster. Good cornerbacks are hard to find. Especially young ones. The Chiefs need to keep Carr.
3. DE Wallace Gilberry: You might be wondering why Gilberry is my third priority from this list of free agents. Gilberry was second on the team with seven sacks with limited playing time, and he’s only 26 years old. Used primarily in the Chiefs’ rush package, he makes an impact when he’s on the field. And while the Chiefs have an improving defense, they’re not great. And they need players who make an impact.
The Chiefs will certainly sign several others from this list of free agents. For instance, both of their fullbacks are free agents (Castille and Cox), and they’ll likely resign one or both of them. Their two right tackles (Richardson and O’Callaghan) are fairly interchangeable in my opinion. They’ll certainly keep at least one of them. Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith both played well on the defensive line, but I wouldn’t consider it imperative that both are resigned.
Maybe the two most interesting decisions the Chiefs face are Wiegmann (15 years in the league) and Vrabel (14 years in the league). They are the two oldest players on the Chiefs’ roster. Wiegmann played well this year, but I think the Chiefs need to continue to improve their line. I’d like to see Jon Asamoah starting this next season, though I’m not sure how you juggle the line to make that happen. And Vrabel was clearly losing playing time to Studebaker. Plus, there’s no guarantee that either of these guys want to play next year. Wouldn’t surprise me if one or both of them retired, though I think Vrabel is the more likely of the two to retire.
And don’t be surprised if the Chiefs resign Brodie Croyle. The fans will howl, but I think Croyle is better than he displayed in his limited action this year.