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Chiefs send early ripple through free agency

Posted Feb 21, 2012

What's next for the Chiefs after signing free agent CB Stanford Routt?

It’s widely speculated that Stanford Routt’s arrival in Kansas City will result in Brandon Carr’s departure as an unrestricted free agent next month.

While the assumption is logical, and could very well become true, Routt’s arrival doesn’t mean the Chiefs are done negotiating with Carr.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has maintained a consistent position that the Chiefs would like to re-sign both Carr and fellow unrestricted free agent to-be Dwayne Bowe. When Pioli spoke on Routt’s signing Monday afternoon, he spoke only of increased competition.

“As we have said in the past, we are always looking to add competition at every position year-round,” Pioli said. “Stanford’s experience and level of play will make him a solid addition to our defense.”

By carrying-over a $24 million cap surplus from 2011, the Chiefs are in a position to re-sign their own free agents while making key external additions. Monday’s acquisition fits the latter, but it doesn’t eliminate the Chiefs core philosophy of drafting, developing and retaining its in-house talent.

Carr has certainly blossomed in Kansas City, going from an unheralded fifth-round pick to one of the top projected free agents at his position. After starting all 64 games of his NFL career, Carr has shown significant growth through each of his first four seasons in the NFL.

It’s unclear where negotiations stand between the Chiefs and Carr’s representation since both parties have kept details close to the vest. If negotiations stall or end, the NFL has always had its methods for making that status public.

But if the Chiefs were able to retain Carr, it wouldn’t just create competition at cornerback. It would give the Chiefs arguably the best cast of cornerbacks in the NFL.

Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel has implemented a heavy dose of nickel and dime personnel groupings over the past two seasons. Mixing three cover cornerbacks with Eric Berry’s ability to play inside the box and Javier Arenas’ ability to blitz off the edge would open the door for a number of new personnel groupings.

Of course, with Brandon Flowers, Berry, Routt and Carr all under contract, the Chiefs would have more than a substantial amount of money dedicated to the secondary.

Just as many are projecting Carr to be, Routt was one of the most sought-after free agent cornerbacks to hit the open market. He was a cap casualty in Oakland and had multiple offers before the Chiefs ultimately won out on obtaining his services.

At a minimum, Routt’s arrival gives the Chiefs a quality starting cornerback to pair with Flowers and more options as the team aims to improve its roster through free agency. If the Chiefs were concerned with having to choose between using the franchise tag on either Bowe or Carr, Routt’s arrival also helps numb the blow of a potential loss.

The franchise tag remains at the Chiefs disposal now through March 5th. Bowe seems to be the logical choice should he and the Chiefs not reach a long-term deal over the next two weeks.

Tagging Bowe would amount to a one-year contract worth approximately $9.4 million. Franchised cornerbacks will receive approximately $10.6 million next season.

Franchise amounts were previously computed by averaging the top five salaries at each position, but the new CBA lessens the price tag in 2012.

Instead of individual salaries, this year’s franchise amounts are based on a percentage of the overall cap figure from the previous five years. The 2012 franchise tag amounts are broken down below, courtesy of NFL.com.

POSITION APPROX. 2012 TAG 2011 TAG VALUE
QB $16.1 million $14.4 million
RB $7.7 million $9.6 million
WR $9.4 million $11.4 million
TE $5.4 million $7.3 million
OL $9.4 million $10.1 million
DE $10.6 million $13.0 million
DT $7.9 million $12.5 million
LB $8.8 million $10.1 million
CB $10.6 million $13.5 million
S $6.3 million $8.8 million

*If a tagged player made more last season than the position’s franchise tag amount, his franchise figure bumps up to 120% of his 2011 salary.

The Chiefs acquisition of Stanford Routt no doubt sent an early ripple through free agency. But to write off the return of Carr, or any other of the team’s unrestricted free agents, is still too early.

This is already shaping up to be an interesting off-season for the Chiefs. Stay tuned.

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