KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs made big improvement on special teams last season but could lose some key components to free agency.
Roster: Key contributors include kicker Ryan Succop, punter Dustin Colquitt, long snapper Thomas Gafford, punt returner Dexter McCluster, kickoff returners Knile Davis and Quintin Demps and blockers/coverage players Akeem Jordan, Anthony Sherman and Husain Abdullah.
Potential 2014 free agents among these players: Gafford, McCluster, Demps, Jordan and Abdullah.
The position: The Chiefs had one of the best special teams in the league last season. They scored five touchdowns, allowed none and set an NFL record for kickoff return average. That's threatened by the possible loss of McCluster and Demps. The decision whether to re-sign them is complicated by their roles on offense or defense. McCluster doesn't produce enough as a receiver to demand a big contract, so the Chiefs shouldn't give him one. While he did a nice job as a punt returner, he benefited from some great blocking at times. The Chiefs can find another returner who can do what McCluster does, though that won't necessarily be easy. Demps is a backup and if he's willing to accept backup money, he should be re-signed. Succop did a nice job on kickoffs and though he missed the clutch field goal attempt in the final regular season game in San Diego, he's made plenty of big kicks before. He also bounced back in the playoff game by making all three of his field goal attempts. Colquitt is pricey for a punter, but worth it. He consistently helps the Chiefs win the field position battle. Gafford is a generally reliable veteran but the Chiefs looked around before re-signing him last year and may have wandering eyes again. If the Chiefs lose Jordan and Abdullah, they might have a difficult time in finding players to replace them.
The Chiefs should keep: Succop, Colquitt, Davis, Demps, Jordan, Sherman and Abdullah.
The Chiefs should dump: Gafford and McCluster.
Free agency/draft priority: If the Chiefs lose McCluster and Demps, they'll need to find a replacement return specialist. Otherwise, they should always be looking for players to help in the kicking game.