As is custom this time of year, the NFL free agency period is underway. There have been some big (though mostly unexpected) moves, like the Chicago Bears releasing DE Julius Peppers, the Dallas Cowboys releasing DE DeMarcus Ware (who is likely to sign with the Denver Broncos, which is absolutely terrifying), and the New Orleans Saints promising to release former K-State Wildcat and current Always Fun Guy to Watch Darren Sproles, but then deciding that “due to high levels of interest from multiple teams,” they’d trade him instead. Dicks.
So far, my favorite moment has been the San Francisco 49ers trading a 6th round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for the services of former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, who has been an absolute flop in his first three NFL seasons. (And—hilariously enough—will be making more than current San Fran QB Colin Kaepernick, provided there are no contract restructurings.)
Back in Kansas City, the ol’ Chiefs are HEMORRAGING (mediocre) players, and BOY ARE MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS FREAKING OUT! HOWEVER WILL WE SURVIVE WITHOUT DEXTER MCCLUSTER?! I LOOOOVE HIM! #sad #StupidChiefs. (Then they post a Buzzfeed quiz informing us all which Golden Girl they’d most like to bang, and the world moves on.)
Unless weird things happen, it appears as though guard Jon Asamoah and defensive end Tyson Jackson will land in Atlanta (under new assistant GM Scott Pioli, because of “Patriot’s Way” and “incestuous decision making”), tackle Branden Albert will end up in Miami, guard Geoff Schwartz is headed to the New York Giants, and Dexter McCluster will do his rascally little squirrel act in Tennessee.
Meanwhile, they announced the re-signings of linebacker Frank ZOMMMMBBBBO (whose name is more fun to say than it should be) and safety Husain Abdullah (who I’d like to see get a little more playing time, so, good.)
The thing is, the departures aren’t exactly surprising, nor are they debilitating.
Asamoah was a third-round pick who never quite turned into a third-round-pick-worthy player. He lost his starting job midway through last season (to Schwartz, actually, who might be the biggest loss of the bunch), and will probably never amount to more than what he is right now.
Former third-overall pick Jackson isn’t exactly a huge loss, either. Though he started to blossom a bit last season under new coordinator Bob Sutton, he never was—and likely never WILL be—the player anyone completely expected. I think he still has room to grow, but his ceiling appears to be “slightly above average,” and nothing more.
Same goes for McCluster. He made his first Pro-Bowl last year on the strength of his return skills—which, don’t get me wrong, WILL be missed—but he’s a small, fragile man, and eventually, as the speed subsides, he will become a liability. He’ll never be more than a 3rd or 4th receiver because his hands are mostly awful, and when he gets tapped, he falls down. (BUT WHEN HE GETS INTO SPACE, LOOK OUT, ERRYBODY!)
Which brings us to Albert, to which I say, “bye, Branden.”
Look, I think he’s a very solid, above-average offensive lineman. Nothing more. He’s CERTAINLY not worth the nearly $10mil a year the Dolphins are forking over ($25mil of which is guaranteed). In his career, he’s only managed to start 16 games once (2011). Hampered by leg issues last season, he started only 12 games; in 2012, only 11.
As Imaginary GM, I’d be far from comfortable offering that kind of a deal to a player who isn’t exactly an Iron Man at his position.
So what’s left? Well, obviously, they’ve got some holes to fill. The Chiefs need a kick and punt returner. They have offensive line needs. They have defensive line needs. But the thing is, they had a lot of these same needs before the losses, and I’m not sure that any of the recently departed would have been reasonable solutions, given the price tags.
Unfortunately, they’ve only got about $9mil to work with in cap-space, so I wouldn’t be looking for a lot of wheeling and dealing on the open market. (GM John Dorsey has stated multiple times that he doesn’t believe in building a contender via free agency; a successful team, he feels, should be built organically using the draft. The thing is, they’re also without a surplus of picks in this year’s draft, so, well, this could get interesting.)
If you believed in the initial hiring of General Manager John Dorsey, now is the time that will test your faith. The Chiefs were due for a regression in 2014, based off strength of schedule alone; what they do with the roster-building this offseason, however, could have a gigantic impact on years to come.
DON’T LET US DOWN, DORS.