The Kansas City Chiefs, in their first season of free agency last year under general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid, signed seven players who wound up filling key roles last season.
This year the Chiefs signed four players, though they could certainly sign more. Three of those four players appear they will fill a smaller role with defensive linemen Vance Walker being the exception.
So which are the real Chiefs, last season's big spenders or this year's frugal shoppers? The answer could vary from year to year, but in general, this year will be more like how the Chiefs operate.
This is what coach Andy Reid had to say on the subject this week at the NFL's annual meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“Listen, I’m not a huge free agency guy,'' Reid said. "I don’t think you build a team that way. I think you build it through a draft. There are so many elements that go into a player actually fitting into your program and being successful, that if you get them right when they’re peaking in that system and then you disrupt that and move them on to another system, that can be tough. So, the percentage has dropped, the success rate has dropped. I think you spot a guy here or there.
"Then you have the other element that it has the chance to disrupt your locker room. This guy has been with me for 10 years and is making X amount and then all of the sudden you bring in a free agent who might be as good, but maybe not as good, and you’re paying him way up here and all of the sudden you have this rift that goes on in the locker room. I think you have to be real, real careful on who you bring in and how you do it.”
That's a smart philosophy, one no doubt crafted by Reid after he was burned a few times in free agency while he coached the Philadelphia Eagles. But it only works if a team drafts wisely.
We're still waiting to see whether Dorsey and Reid drafted wisely their first time around with the Chiefs. Tackle Eric Fisher certainly didn't play as a rookie like the first overall pick can reasonably be expected to play last season, but there's plenty of time for him to become that type of player.
Third-round running back and kick returner Knile Davis had some big moments as a rookie. Otherwise, the Chiefs received little from their draft picks. They have hopes going forward for others, including tight end Travis Kelce, defensive back Sanders Commings and defensive end Mike Catapano. But none is a sure thing.
The Chiefs have only six picks this year, having sent their second-rounder to the San Francisco 49ers as part of last year's trade that brought quarterback Alex Smith. So the percentages aren't with the Chiefs if they're looking for a bounty in this year's draft.