Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free-agency review: Chiefs
By Adam Teicher
Most significant signing: Defensive end Vance Walker will fill the starting spot that was left when Tyson Jackson departed for the Atlanta Falcons. Walker will be expected to be a strong run defender, as Jackson was last season. The Chiefs are also hopeful Walker can provide more punch as a pass-rusher than Jackson did. Walker had three sacks for the Oakland Raiders last season, his first in the NFL as a full-time starter.
Most significant loss:Dexter McCluster developed into one of the NFL's top threats as a punt returner last season. He had a pair of touchdowns, including one against the New York Giants that has to be seen to be believed. The Chiefs will find that kind of ability difficult to replace. McCluster had less of an impact on offense as the slot receiver but was still third on the Chiefs with 53 receptions.
Biggest surprise:Emmanuel Sanders would have gone a long way toward solving the Chiefs' shortcomings at wide receiver. They lacked a consistent threat at the position last year. They could have used him in a variety of receiving roles, including as a slot receiver. The Chiefs believed they had an agreement with Sanders on a contract, but he didn't sign. Making matters worse, the Chiefs lost Sanders to their division rival, the Denver Broncos, and will have to play against him twice next season.
What’s next? Including the signings of Walker, linebacker Joe Mays and offensive lineman Jeffrey Linkenbach, the Chiefs have taken care of their most obvious needs. The major exception is wide receiver. The passing game won't work consistently next season without an upgrade at the position. If there's a receiver the Chiefs like who's available when they make the 23rd pick of the draft, it would be a mistake for them to pass on him.