2010 NFL Free Agency Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

Last off-season the Chiefs transformed into New England Patriots West, but the championships have yet to follow. The team has since added yet another member of the Patriots brain trust, one Charlie Weiss, who will be assisting Head Coach Todd Haley with the teams' struggling offense.

The biggest concern for Haley and the Chiefs heading forward has to be the offensive line, which ranked among the league's worst in 2009. They have some capable playmakers in Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel, but if they are going to have any success Kansas City will need to get more production out of their linemen.

The Chiefs have invested several high draft picks on the other side of the ball, but the majority of them have not panned out. Defensive ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson both received lucrative rookie contracts in the hope that they would terrorize opponent's backfields for years to come, but while they have shown steady improvement, the production has not lived up to the hype.

Look for the team to invest heavily on the defensive side of the ball as they continue their transformation to a 3-4 defense.

Free Agents

G Andy Alleman (ERFA) - Took over at right guard when Mike Goff went on IR.

RB Jackie Battle (ERFA) - Battle only had nine touches in 2009 before succumbing to injury. He is no better than a depth option.

WR Chris Chambers (UFA) - Chambers was the Chiefs most effective receiver in 2009. A dubious title at best, but he is a solid number two receiver.

RB Mike Cox (ERFA)

QB Brodie Croyle (RFA) - Croyle is believed to be an option as a long-term backup for Kansas City.

C Thomas Gafford (RFA) - Was released and then re-signed on August 13th. He has experience as a long snapper.

LB Derrick Johnson (RFA) - Johnson is tremendously talented, but he has had an up and down career with the Chiefs. This season he lost his starting job to Demorrio Williams and was made available via trade before the deadline. He is believed to be best suited as a strong-side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme.

DB Maurice Leggett (ERFA) - Leggett saw time as a nickel-back and as a safety before going on IR with a shoulder injury.

LB Corey Mays (RFA) - Mays started at inside linebacker for parts of 2009.

G Ikechuku Ndukwe (RFA) - Ndukwe has spent his career as a back-up guard but saw some time at tackle this year.

C Rudy Niswanger (RFA) - Niswanger has struggled as of late, and many suspect that he could be the first man to go on the Chiefs offensive line. Bigger nose tackles have given him fits.

T Ryan O'Callaghan (RFA) - O'Callaghan solidified the right tackle spot, and is projected as the 2010 starter for that position.

DB Jarrad Page (RFA) - Page struggled before going on IR with a calf injury.

T Barry Richardson (ERFA) - Richardson started the year on Kansas City's practice squad before being called up due to injury.

DB Mike Richardson (RFA) - Washington was cut by the Patriots before landing in Kansas City. He played sparingly in 2009.

G Wade Smith (UFA) - Smith is a very versatile lineman and filled in at multiple positions for the Chiefs.

OLB Andy Studebaker (ERFA) - Studebaker had his first career start this season. He also recorded two interceptions.

OLB Mike Vrabel (UFA) - Vrabel only recorded 2 sacks in 2009. He is 34 years old and there has been speculation that he may retire, but according to his agent Vrabel feels like he can still play and be productive. He has said that he would be open to returning to the Chiefs in 2010.

Needs

Tackle - The Chiefs fielded one of the league's worst offensive lines in 2009. While their tackles were relatively solid compared to the rest of the line, they could stand to upgrade at left tackle. If they can secure a legitimate left tackle it would allow Brandon Albert to slide over to the right side of the line, shoring up both ends of the trenches.

Guard - Brian Watters has shown signs of slowing down, and the team desperately needs to improve the interior of the line. The Chiefs struggled against teams with large defensive tackles so look for size and strength to be a priority for this spot.

Outside Linebacker - The addition of another pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali would immediately improve the team's defense. The best remedy for safeties who struggle in coverage is to converge on the quarterback quickly.

Wide Receiver - The Chiefs lack for receivers who can create separation between them and their defender. Chris Chambers is a solid wide-out but they need to add a true number one.

Nose Tackle - An upgrade over Ron Edwards at nose tackle would help to shore up their lackluster run defense. Edwards would be a great fit as part of a rotation on the interior line, but he is not a legitimate starting nose tackle.

Center - Niswanger's stock has dropped within the organization to the point that he is expected to be replaced. They need someone who is strong enough to handle a big nose tackle and still get the ball safely into Matt Cassel's hands.

Safety - The Chiefs need to improve at both safety positions.

Summary

The skill positions on offense are relatively talented compared to the rest of the team. If they can find a way to solidify their line they should see an immediate improvement on that side of the ball.

The struggles on their line were exacerbated by Matt Cassel's tendency to hang on to the ball too long, so that should be a point of emphasis in his off-season program.

Aside from upgrading the offensive line, the Chiefs need to improve defensively. Their corners have shown some potential and they have two very talented defensive ends, but nearly every other position on the defense could stand to be upgraded. If Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Chandler can continue to progress and improve, it would be a huge boon to the unit.

The team also needs to decide what to do about LB Derrick Johnson. He is clearly a very talented player, but he has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff. Kansas City could look to re-sign him and trade him away for a player who fits in better with their scheme on defense.\

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