The free agent pool is growing larger and it’s all because of transactions unforeseen due to a work stoppage that evaporated the traditional NFL off-season. Cap heavy teams like the Ravens and Cowboys are leading the charge this week informing well-known veterans of their impending release.
Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, Marion Baber and Roy Williams (and that’s just from two teams) – they’re all familiar names across the league and will soon be available for bidding. These are the kinds of transactions we’re used to seeing in February and March, but are instead witnessing unfold just as free agent negotiation madness begins.
It remains to be seen if any of the league’s soon-to-be released veterans interest the Chiefs, but it’s certainly an avenue the Chiefs have taken in recent years. Under GM Scott Pioli, the Chiefs most productive free agent signees haven’t come to Kansas City via expiring contracts.
We took an in-depth look at this pattern back in May and speculated that the Chiefs top free agent producer wasn’t even on the radar yet. He was likely still under contract and waiting for walking papers.
“We care about getting players in - the players that we need, the players that we want, and getting them up and running,” Pioli said. “That’s the key in all of this.”
Kansas City’s 2010 free agency class was topped by the signings of 16-game starter
This year, the acclimation process for veteran signees must be even quicker. In addition to time already missed, terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will keep all veteran signees out of any physical activity until August 4th.
“It’s a very fluid situation, you have a plan set up, you start making calls, but then there’s always brush fires,” Pioli said. “That’s the fun part with the way we handle it, is all hands are on deck and people figure it out. I mean, coaches are involved in it too, but I don’t know if it’s as dramatic (as people make the process out to be).
“The only chaotic stuff is when a player tells you ‘yeah, I’d like to sign with you.’ A minute later, you call the agent who says ‘He signed with Green Bay 20 minutes ago.’ We had a couple of those (with the rookies).”
The Chiefs have yet to announce any plans for releasing their own contracted veterans, though that doesn’t mean changes aren’t on the way. Whether it’s adding to the league’s pool of available players, re-signing their own or going outside the organization, expect the Chiefs to be a player in this year’s free agent frenzy.
“Philosophically, I want to say this loud and clear there has not been one time since we’ve been here that we’ve gone free agency extensions where I’ve talked to Clark and Todd and I talked to Clark and he’s never said no,” Pioli said emphatically. “What we’re going to continue to do is build this football team the best way we can with the best players we can.
“It’s a philosophical belief of mine and Todd’s that spending money isn’t what makes a good football team. It’s spending money wisely on good football players that makes a good football team and part of what we’re going to do and what we’ve done is sign good football players to contracts.”
It appears the list of good players available continues to grow.
EXTRA: Pulling a Wiegmann (Or a Lilja)?
Could any former Chiefs wind up back in Kansas City via unrestricted free agency?
Casey Wiegmann returned to Arrowhead for a second time last off-season while Ryan Lilja made a re-appeared after missing out on a roster slot as an undrafted free agent way back in 2004.
Reunions do look a bit far-fetched this year, particularly since five of the candidates were either let go or not retained as free agents by the Chiefs current leadership, but it’s never safe to completely rule out a return.
At the time of their departure, who would have thought that Wiegmann or Lilja would someday return?
Overall, there are 12 former Chiefs in the unrestricted free agent pool according to the list that the NFL distributed Monday. Let’s take a brief look at each, beginning with the five players who have crossed over with the current Chiefs regime.
*DE Jason Babin, Tennessee
Arrived: Free agent signee 11/12/08
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Eagles) 8/4/09
*DE Turk McBride, Detroit
Arrived: 2nd round draft pick in 2007
Departed: Released 9/15/09
*S Jarrad Page, New England
Arrived: 7th round draft pick in 2006
Departed: Traded to NE 9/4/10 for 7th round pick in 2012
*S Bernard Pollard, Houston
Arrived: 2nd round draft pick in 2006
Departed: Released 9/5/09
*QB Tyler Thigpen, Miami
Arrived: Waiver Claim (from Vikings) 9/3/07
Departed: Traded to Miami 9/29/09 for 5th round pick in 2010
QB Todd Collins, Chicago
Arrived: Waiver claim (from Bills) 8/26/98
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Redskins) 3/14/06
LB Keyaron Fox, Pittsburgh
Arrived: 3rd round pick in 2004
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Steelers) 3/12/08
CB Dimitri Patterson, Philadelphia
Arrived: Free agent signee 2/12/07
Departed: Released 11/1/08
LB Kawika Mitchell, New Orleans
Arrived: 2nd round pick in 2003
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Giants) 3/27/07
FB Tony Richardson, N.Y. Jets
Arrived: Undrafted free agent signee in 1995
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Vikings) 3/21/06
DT Junior Siavii, Seattle
Arrived: 2nd round pick in 2004
Departed: Released 9/2/06
DE Jimmy Wilkerson, New Orleans
Arrived: 6th round pick in 2003
Departed: Unrestricted free agent signee (Buccaneers) 3/1/08