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Gaither Increases Options, Competition On Chiefs Line

Posted Aug 11, 2011

Unrestricted free agent T Jared Gaither signed with Kansas City on Thursday

Wednesday morning, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli declared the Chiefs weren’t done with free agency. Hours later, Kansas City added veteran WR Keary Colbert and kickoff specialist Todd Carter. Those additions brought the Chiefs roster up to 87 players, but Pioli wasn’t done.

Nearly 24 hours to the minute of Pioli hinting there was still more to come, there was. The Chiefs announced the signing of unrestricted free agent T Jared Gaither Thursday morning to infuse the tackle position with true preseason competition.

Gaither is the third Baltimore Ravens free agent to sign with the Chiefs this season, joining FB Le'Ron McClain and NT Kelly Gregg. His addition brings new discussions involving the Chiefs offensive line.

When healthy, Gaither has been a quality left tackle, starting 28 games and five playoff contests for Baltimore. Of course, he missed 2010 in its entirety while recovering from a thoracic disc injury. The 6-9, 340-pounder was most recently connected to the Raiders, but terms of that deal fell apart in its final stages.

Aside from missing the 2010 season, the main question surrounding Gaither is where the Chiefs will play him? Branden Albert has started 44 games on the left edge for Kansas City over the past three seasons, but has never played right tackle before. Neither has Gaither.

The Ravens briefly tried Gaither on the right edge during mini-camp in 2010, but he’s never appeared in a game at the position in college or at the NFL level.

Kansas City’s incumbent at right tackle is Barry Richardson, a 16-game starter in 2010. The Chiefs now have a number of options at the tackle position. Prior to Gaither’s addition, Ryan O’Callaghan was the only backup with any NFL experience.

“At this time, (Ryan) is the only veteran that we have back there,” offensive coordinator Bill Muir said following last night’s practice. “The rest are free agent rookies and a couple of them have been kind of impressive, but it’s a work in progress with them as you well know.”

The Chiefs also have the flexibility to move Albert to guard should they choose to explore such a move. Albert was a first-team All-ACC pick in college, starting 35 games at left guard over three seasons for Virginia. Thus far, however, there haven’t been any indications of that option coming to fruition.

“I actually think Branden Albert has made some progress as a run blocker,” Muir said earlier this week. “He’s missed that offseason as a pass protector, it’s not there yet [and] his technique’s a little off but I have no doubt it will come.”

The Chiefs carried eight active offensive linemen last season and Muir expects similar numbers in 2011.

Prior to adding Gaither, Kansas City’s two-deep read as follows:

LT: Branden Albert, David Mims

LG: Ryan Lilja, Darryl Harris

C: Casey Wiegmann, Rodney Hudson

RG: Jon Asamoah, Bobby Greenwood

RT: Barry Richardson, Ryan O’Callaghan

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