The free agency snapshots for each of the offensive positions are officially in the books. As we move to the defensive side of the football, we’re on pace to preview close to 100 unrestricted free agents (almost half of the 235 players set to become UFAs). That’s not a bad start, and it should give us a solid base before the 2010 offseason kicks into high gear.
On the defensive side of the football, we’ll begin where the Chiefs emphasis has been each of the past two seasons. Kansas City has spent back-to-back top-five picks on defensive ends and there seems to be a solid foundation implemented at this position for the future. Add in some emerging young talent like Wallace Gilberry and Alex Magee lower in the depth chart and the positional alignments almost already look set for 2010.
But free agency can’t be ignored, especially with the rumors that Chiefs fans are accustomed to hearing throughout last season and into this offseason - http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/10042/keep-an-eye-on-these-10-players
Following the trade rumors only creates headaches for fans, particularly with Glenn Dorsey who’s been spoken highly of, in-house, this offseason. Just because the Chiefs appear steady at defensive end today, doesn’t mean that they will be tomorrow. Position swaps and acquisitions run rampant across the league.
With that, let’s take a look at the veterans set to come available.
Remember, these snapshots only cover the “knowns” – players who are set to become UFAs on March 5th. Teams can add to the free agent pool on a daily basis as they make transactions.
KCChiefs.com Free Agency Snapshot
Position: Defensive End
Degree of Need: Low
Chiefs Under Contract (6): Glenn Dorsey, Dion Gales (also listed as a DT), Wallace Gilberry, Bobby Greenwood, Tyson Jackson, Alex Magee
*Chiefs Without Contracts (0): None
Chiefs Who Opened Camp in 2009 (7): Alfonso Boone, Dorsey, Gales, Gilberry, Greenwood, Jackson, Magee
*(UFA) – Unrestricted Free Agent; (RFA)—Restricted Free Agent; (ERFA) – Exclusive Rights Free Agent
Whose Out There (restricted free agents excluded)?
Julius Peppers (6-7, 283; age: 30) – Here’s the guy creating all of the headlines this offseason. From a media perspective, Peppers is the top unrestricted free agent set to come available this March. Keep in mind, however, that team views don’t always align with that of the media.
Though technically listed as a defensive end for NFL roster purposes, the general thought is that Peppers will land as an outside linebacker for a team that runs a 3-4 defense. Naturally, that assumption never keeps Peppers’ name far from the attention of fans in Kansas City.
There is plenty of debate to have regarding Peppers and a possible fit with Kansas City. The finances, the state of the Chiefs outside linebacking core and the potential ramifications of the unknowns which await a new CBA all loom in discussions. Then again, so does Peppers’ ability to churn out double-digit sack seasons on an annual basis (six of eight years Peppers has notched 10.0 or more sacks).
Also, whoever lands Peppers can feel comfortable about spending money on a dependable player. Peppers has only missed six games in eight seasons as a pro. Overall, he’s started 120 of 122 career games.
There isn’t much since in tracking the latest word about Peppers, because the rumor mills seem to update almost instantaneously. But for what it’s worth, click the NFL tab under any national sports website and you’ll get the latest and greatest surrounding Peppers.
Derrick Burgess (6-2, 260; age: 31) – Burgess is like a miniature version of Peppers, at least from a positional perspective. Chiefs fans likely remember Burgess as a defensive end for arch-rival Oakland from 2005-08. If anything, Burgess’ 16.0 sacks season in 2005 and 11.0-sack campaign in 2006 should ring a bell.
No? That’s fine; I also have selective memory when it comes to success tied to the Oakland Raiders (there was a Super Bowl played following the 2002 season?).
The Chiefs tie to Burgess doesn’t begin and end with him being an AFC West opponent though. After the Patriots dealt Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs, it was Burgess that the Pats turned to for stability as an outside rusher via trade - The Patriots surrendered their 2010 third-round and fourth-round picks, with a condition: If the Patriots pick up a fifth-round pick in 2010 (their pick was traded to Tampa Bay for tight end Alex Smith), that pick will go to Oakland instead of the fourth-round pick.
Burgess is a guy who has experience as both a 4-3 end and a 3-4 stand-up linebacker. That versatility could be beneficial to a team that plans to implement multiple fronts. Injuries slowed Burgess’s production from 2007-08, but he played in all 16 games (six starts) with the Patriots last year.
According to the Patriots official website, head coach Bill Belichick is high on Burgess. Apparently the writers for the Patriots.com aren’t.
I’d side with the coach in that argument, but who knows? Burgess, by the way, is a two-time Pro Bowler.
Richard Seymour (6-6, 310; age: 30) – How about a prototypical 3-4 defensive end, with a Chiefs connection and a Pro Bowl history? If those are you’re requirements, then you’ll unearth Oakland DE Richard Seymour.
Seymour is a household name to most NFL fans and his trade from New England to Oakland this preseason, followed by a near no-report to the Bay Area, made national news. Having been drafted by the Patriots in 2001 and spending eight seasons in New England, there is a clear tie to Scott Pioli. The two shook hands at mid-field during pre-game warm-ups when the Chiefs visited Oakland.
It’s tough to find a man as athletic as Seymour when given his size as parameters. He’s not thought of as a natural edge rusher, holding a single-season career high of 8.0 sacks. But then again, he’s a 3-4 defensive end and all of us in Kansas City still seem to be adjusting to the major differences between the 3-4 and 4-3 defensive end techniques.
We all know what Seymour can do. The question is where will he do it?
Throw in the Al Davis factor and you just never can predict what kind of curveball can be thrown into the mix.
Aaron Kampman (6-4, 265; age: 30) – When we look at this free agent list, we realize that Tamba Hali wasn’t in rare company making the switch from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker. Some of the game’s best have made the transition, although that transition isn’t always easy.
Kampman is a guy who had to make the Hali-like switch in Green Bay last year. Right now, the jury might still be out as to where Kampman fits the best. We all know that he can excel as a 4-3 defensive end when he put up 15.5 sacks in 2006 and 12.0 sacks in 2007. As a first-year outside linebacker, Kampman totaled 42 tackles and 3.5 sacks in nine starts before tearing his knee in November.
This guy could be a risky signing coming off knee injury, but he’s certain to find a home somewhere. Is Kampman another solid candidate for a multiple-front team? Like Burgess, he has experience doing a bit of everything.
Kyle Vanden Bosch (6-4, 278; age: 31) – Add another Pro Bowler to this list in the Titans’ Vanden Bosch. The eight-year pro’s numbers have dropped significantly over the past two seasons as he battled injuries in 2008 and only totaled 3.0 sacks in 16 starts last year.
Like almost all of the available unrestricted free agents, Vanden Bosch is in his low-30s and what stage his career is under makes for a key evaluation point with personnel men across the league.
With a defense that finished 2009 ranked 28th in the league and a handful of veterans becoming UFAs this offseason, it looks like Tennessee is focusing on the defensive side of the football for this year’s draft. With that said, word on the street is that the Titans would like to have a new deal agreed upon with Vanden Bosch before free agency opens.
Jason Taylor (6-6, 255; age: 35) – Once a Pro Bowl defensive end, now you see Taylor as a stand-up situational outside linebacker. Even at 35, he seems to find ways to get in the quarterback’s face. His 7.0 sacks would have placed second only to Tamba Hali (8.5) on the Chiefs last year.
A player like Taylor would be an excellent addition for a team that is counting on big-time prospects to evolve their game. You’d have to wonder if Taylor would rather retire than leave Miami though.
Jarvis Green (6-3, 285; age: 31) – When looking for a defensive end with a Chiefs front-office connection, most people start and finish the list with Richard Seymour. Because of that, Green often times goes over-looked and his eight years spent as a reserve and part-time starter in New England generally go ignored here in Kansas City.
Even though Green hasn’t been a headliner in New England, he’s been an excellent fit. Entering 2009, Green’s 108 games played for the Patriots ranked third among active New England defensive players, trailing only LB Tedy Bruschi (189) and Seymour (111).
Green has now played in 121 games with New England, passing Seymour (who was dealt to Oakland) and gaining the top spot over Bruschi due to retirement. Could a very solid role player in New England turn out to be the same in Kansas City via free agency?
On paper, it doesn’t seem out of the question.
Chike Okeafor (6-5, 256; age: 33) – Originally a 4-3 defensive end in San Francisco and Seattle, Okeafor made the switch to 3-4 outside linebacker during his tenure in Arizona. He was a regular starter for all three franchises and has always put up solid numbers, although never eye-popping statistics (his single-season career-high in sacks is 8.5).
If Clancy Pendergast were still in Kansas City, the Okeafor connection would be even great to the Chiefs coaching staff. Still, Todd Haley is familiar with Okeafor as the two crossed paths in Arizona and he’s also a guy who has proven that he’s able to play on multiple fronts.
Word out of Arizona is that Okeafor is unlikely to re-sign with the Cards.
Other UFA defensive ends that you’ve surely heard of…
· Philip Daniels – Washington
· Ryan Denney – Buffalo
· Reggie Hayward – Jacksonville
· Leonard Little – St. Louis
· Jevon Kearse – Tennessee
· Travis Kirschke – Pittsburgh