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Chiefs Find Free Agent Success In Released Players

Posted May 20, 2011

Chiefs have found recent free agent success by signing recently released players, not those coming off expiring contracts

Each NFL off-season has its fair share of free agency pipe dreams and outlandish trade ideas posted on message boards, phoned into radio shows and written about in blogs – that’s all still there, to some degree, muddled between labor updates.

Just last week, an ESPN story circulated about potential suitors for potential free agent-to-be T Matt Light. The Chiefs have thin numbers at offensive tackle and Light’s a Pro Bowler from the Patriots – a natural candidate to float as a free agent possibility for the Chiefs. The story is one of many.

Do a Google search for “Kansas City Chiefs 2011 Free Agent Targets” and you’ll get page after page of predictions, wish lists and the simple throwing of names to see what sticks.

When there isn’t much football news to report, potential landing spots for potential free agents will only continue; even if we don’t have a clue who will or will not become a free agent.

NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora speculates that 2011 could offer the worst crop of free agents in the modern-era system.

That prediction may very well be spot-on based off the “Unofficial List of Potential 2011 Free Agents” posted on NFL.com (Potential list #1 with 2010 rules in effect; Potential list #2 with four-year players open for bidding).

Notice the key word involving all things free agency? “Potential.”

Off-season speculating remains at all-time highs. It’s just coming in a different form during a very different off-season. The truth is, nobody knows exactly how this year’s list of free agents will be compiled – and even if 2010 rules are implemented tomorrow, we still won’t have an accurate list yet.

An accurate pool of free agents won’t be determined until teams are free to begin releasing players. For the Chiefs, it’s the route that the club’s top free agent acquisitions have come by over the past two off-seasons.

The Chiefs have been somewhat active participants in free agency under GM Scott Pioli, but most of the club’s key additions haven’t come to Kansas City on an expiring contract.

Excluding restricted free agent tenders, contract extensions and rookie free agent signings, Kansas City inked 16 free agents between March and July of 2009. Last year’s total saw nine free agent signings over that same time span.

Of those 25 players, the most productive of the bunch weren’t part of pre-free agency lists until teams began releasing players in the days and weeks before the start of free agency.

The Chiefs treasures have come from another team’s trash. Look no further than key contributors signed last off-season.

The Chiefs 2010 free agency class was topped by the signings of 16-game starter Casey Wiegmann, 15-game starter Ryan Lilja and 10-game starter Thomas Jones. Each was cut by their former team. None were heading into free agency off expiring contracts.

In fact, only one external signee made significant on-field contribution last season after joining the Chiefs from an expiring contract. That was Shaun Smith.

Jerheme Urban, of the Arizona Cardinals, was lost to injury before the season began, while Terrance Copper and Chris Chambers were both in Kansas City the previous year. Take a look at last year’s veteran free agent class.

Chiefs 2010 Free Agent Signings (March – July)

*UFA period began 3/6/10

RFA tenders, undrafted free agents and contract extensions excluded

MARCH 3RD – TYLER PALKO (signed before UFA period began; cut by Steelers 12/9/09)

MARCH 6TH – TERRANCE COPPER (expiring contract – re-signed by Chiefs)

MARCH 8TH – CHRIS CHAMBERS (expiring contract – re-signed by Chiefs)

MARCH 9TH – THOMAS JONES (cut by Jets 3/5/10)

MARCH 10TH – SHAUN SMITH (expiring contract – Bengals)

MARCH 11TH – JERHEME URBAN (expiring contract – Cardinals)

MARCH 12TH – CASEY WIEGMANN (cut by Broncos 2/23/10)

MARCH 16TH – RYAN LILJA (cut by Colts 3/8/10)

MAY 4TH – DAVID GRIMES (signed after tryout)

*Mike Vrabel signed a contract extension prior to the start of the UFA signing period

Go back to 2009, when the Chiefs brought in nearly double the amount of free agents, and the top on-field contributor was Mike Brown. Brown started all 16 games at strong safety and finished third on the team with 99 tackles and second on the team with three INTs.

Brown was cut by the Bears prior to the start of free agency.

Notable acquisitions that came to the Chiefs via expiring contracts that season were Corey Mays (CIN), Terrance Copper (BAL), Travis Daniels (CLE), Monty Beisel (ARZ), Bobby Engram (SEA), Mike Goff (SD), Sean Ryan (SF) and Zach Thomas (DAL).

A much larger list than 2010, but Mays was the only regular starter from start to finish.

At some point free agency is going to open and, whenever that time comes, the Chiefs will be ready to make additions. Thing is, the Chiefs top free agent producer probably isn’t even on the radar yet. He’s likely still under contract and waiting for walking papers.

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