- Adam Teicher, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kansas City Chiefs fans have been less than thrilled with the first few days of free agency. They've watched their team lose five players who were regulars at some point last season while they've added Joe Mays, an inside linebacker who will probably play only on running downs, and Jeff Linkenbach, an offensive lineman who may be just a backup.
But the NFL Network reports the Chiefs will visit with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. If the Chiefs could get Sanders under contract, that should be a signing for their fans to be excited about.
If he came to Kansas City, Sanders could wind up being the slot receiver who replaces Dexter McCluster. Sanders caught 67 passes and scored six touchdowns for the Steelers last season and since he turns 27 next week, he should be headed into the best seasons of his career.
Wide receiver is the position of biggest need for the Chiefs. Their No. 1 receiver, Dwayne Bowe, had the least productive full season of his career last year. The Chiefs were last in 2013 in wide receiver receptions, yards and first downs and were near the bottom in touchdowns. That was with McCluster in their lineup.
They were also last in targets, which suggests they weren't getting open. Alex Smith's history is to throw the checkdowns and shorter and safer patterns, so that's part of the issue. But Smith hasn't made a habit of neglecting open receivers down the field, either.
With Sanders, Bowe, A.J. Jenkins, Donnie Avery and perhaps a first-round draft pick (the more I think about it, the better LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. would look in a Chiefs uniform), the receiving positions would be improved. Far from best-in-the-league improved, but good enough to pose a threat to opposing defenses.
Let's put it this way: That group should be good enough to get the Chiefs out of last place in wide receiver production.