Kansas City Chiefs: Tyson Jackson

On the surface, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Vance Walker to replace Tyson Jackson as a starting defensive end. Jackson signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons and the Chiefs signed Walker from the Oakland Raiders.

Walker
If Walker can play sturdy run defense, he will do for the Chiefs what Jackson did last season. But if he can rush the quarterback with any consistency, he will be even more productive for the Chiefs than Jackson.

Jackson never developed as a pass-rusher the way the Chiefs had hoped in 2009 when they drafted him with the third overall pick. He mostly played on running downs and had just nine sacks in his five seasons with the Chiefs, including a career-best four in 2013.

Walker wasn't a part-time player in Oakland last season. He was in the game for more than half of the defensive snaps in the 15 games he played. In most of those, he played a heavy majority of the snaps.

Pro Football Focus rated him a better pass-rusher than run defender. He had three sacks and 32 quarterback hurries, defined as plays where pressure forced the passer to get rid of the ball.

In comparison, Jackson had several games last season in which he played fewer than half the snaps. He had four sacks for a better pass-rushing team than Walker played, but just eight hurries. PFF had him rated as a much better run defender than pass-rusher.

"I would hope so," Walker said Monday, when asked whether the Chiefs told him they would use him as a pass-rusher. "It's also on me to prove to those guys what I'm capable of doing and once I do that I'm sure [Andy Reid] will do exactly what he feels is necessary to help the team. I know I'm capable of doing both of those things, stopping the run and rushing the passer, easily."

Chiefs smart to let Jackson go

March, 17, 2014
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Louis Riddick has an interesting piece ranking the best and worst free-agent signings with regard to contract value. The only player on either of Riddick's lists with ties to the Kansas City Chiefs is defensive end Tyson Jackson, who signed with the Atlanta Falcons after five seasons with the Chiefs. According to Riddick, Jackson's contract with the Falcons is among the worst in terms of value of any handed out during the first several days of the free-agent signing period.

[+] EnlargeTyson Jackson
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsDespite being a part-time player much of his career, Tyson Jackson landed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Falcons.
While Jackson developed into a solid run defender in his last season with the Chiefs, I agree the Falcons overpaid to get him and, by extension, the Chiefs were smart not to give him what the Falcons did. Jackson’s contract is worth $25 million over five years and includes a guarantee of $9.5 million. That's a lot of money to pay a player who has been a part-timer for most of his career. Jackson has been removed from the lineup on passing downs because his pass-rush skills never developed to the point the Chiefs hoped.

Maybe Jackson will be a full-time player for the Falcons. Jackson will turn 28 in June, so there's still time for him to get there.

More likely, he will be for the Falcons what he was for the Chiefs. Interestingly, the Chiefs drafted Jackson higher than he should have been (third overall in 2009) by the Chiefs when their general manager was Scott Pioli because they needed defensive ends for the new 3-4 scheme that new coach Todd Haley just had to use. The Falcons are also switching to a 3-4 this year and, with Pioli as their assistant GM, went after Jackson to fill that vacancy. We'll see if it works better for Pioli this time around.

The Chiefs replaced Jackson with Vance Walker, who started last season for the Oakland Raiders. They gave Walker a three-year contract worth a maximum of $13 million. Of that, $3.75 million is guaranteed. Riddick thinks the Chiefs are getting a better player in Walker and for a lower cost.
It was a hectic week for the Kansas City Chiefs this week as the free-agent signing period began. They lost five players who were regulars at some point last year (wide receiver Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and offensive linemen Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz) but signed three players from other teams (linebacker Joe Mays, defensive lineman Vance Walker and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach) and re-signed two of their own free agents, reserve linebacker Frank Zombo and backup safety Husain Abdullah.

Now, in this week's Twitter mailbag, we're looking ahead, in some cases toward 2015.
Jon AsamoahUSA TODAY SportsEx-Kansas City linemen Tyson Jackson and Jon Asamoah should give Atlanta toughness in the trenches.
The Atlanta Falcons raided the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs in the opening moments of the free-agent signing period, adding defensive end Tyson Jackson and guard Jon Asamoah. Jackson was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2009 and the third choice overall. Asamoah was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2010 draft.

ESPN NFL Nation reporters Adam Teicher (Chiefs) and Vaughn McClure (Falcons) discuss the signings.

Teicher: Vaughn, tell us how Jackson and Asamoah fit into the Falcons’ plans and why they liked those players more than some other available players at their positions.

McClure: In my opinion, they’re both great fits for a team that lacked some toughness up front on both sides of the ball. The offensive line getting pushed around last season led to Matt Ryan being the league’s most-pressured quarterback and the running game being the league’s worst. Asamoah will step in immediately at right guard, where the Falcons tried three players last season but had little success. In terms of Jackson, he has 3-4 experience, and the Falcons are set to move more toward a 3-4 base defense. And if Jackson is as good a run-stuffer as Asamoah touted him to be, the Falcons should be in business.

From the Chiefs’ perspective, what were the pros and cons to keeping or parting ways with both Jackson and Asamoah?

Teicher: The Chiefs would have liked to have retained Jackson but not at the price the Falcons got him for (five years, $25 million). He developed into a solid run defender the past couple of seasons but was still just a part-time player who came out of the game on passing downs. Still, the Chiefs may have to go out and find his replacement in free agency or the draft. They also thought Asamoah was too pricey for them at more than $4 million per year. The Chiefs last year had some good depth on the offensive line. They drafted five linemen in the top three rounds over the previous four drafts. Asamoah was one of them and the other four will start for them next year. They didn’t re-sign any of their three free-agent offensive linemen and never came close to reaching a deal with any of them. The Chiefs have some developmental prospects they may try to plug into the starting right guard spot that is now vacant or they could find a guard in free agency or the draft.

These signings have Scott Pioli’s fingerprints on them. He was the Chiefs’ general manager when they drafted Jackson and Asamoah and is now Atlanta’s assistant GM. How much say do you think he has on personnel matters for the Falcons?

McClure: I think it will be a team effort, Adam, with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, director of player personnel Lionel Vital, and Pioli leading the way. Of course, Pioli obviously had some input in these signings. He had a familiarity with both Asamoah and Jackson and could speak on their behalf. But Pioli learned some lessons from his experience in Kansas City, particularly how to be more open-minded. So, like Dimitroff said, Pioli will be another voice at the table. I’m curious now to see how they all put their minds together and decide what to do in the draft. They need both an offensive tackle and edge pass-rusher.

Adam, since we’re talking, I have to ask you this question. My sources told me that the Seattle Seahawks indeed talked about trading for Tony Gonzalez. And there were reports that Kansas City felt the same way. What exactly happened there? And Gonzalez is a free agent now, you know?

Teicher: Bringing Gonzalez back to Kansas City for the last half of last season would have made sense on a number of levels. They had some injuries at tight end and needed a pass-receiver at that spot. The fans would have loved it. But the Chiefs never seemed serious about it. It was fun for everyone to talk about, but it was never close to becoming a reality. That would be something if the Chiefs signed Gonzalez now as a free agent, but their chance to get something done with him was last year.
Many fans of the Kansas City Chiefs were upset at Tuesday's depressing developments, and it's difficult to blame them. The Chiefs lost five players who were regulars last season in the first hour or so after the start of the free-agent signing period: left tackle Branden Albert (signed with the Miami Dolphins), receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster (Tennessee Titans), defensive end Tyson Jackson (Atlanta Falcons), and guards Jon Asamoah (Atlanta) and Geoff Schwartz (New York Giants).

There is no way to paint this as good news. Here is what I wrote early Tuesday morning, as it appeared the Chiefs would lose those players. It still applies now.

[+] EnlargeBranden Albert
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliThe Chiefs' offensive line was decimated in free agency, but they have a replacement in place for tackle Branden Albert.
But you can console yourself with this: Every one of those players has more value to his new team than he would have to the Chiefs. The Chiefs were smart to not even try to compete with those offers.

Let's take these cases one by one. First, Albert signed a five-year contract worth about $9 million per season. A good investment for Miami, which had a horrible offensive line last season even before the mess involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.

But for the Chiefs? Not so much. It would have been a disaster. Remember that the Chiefs have only $9 million or so in remaining salary-cap space. He was way too rich for a team not only with limited funds, but with two tackles in Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson who are ready to start for them next season. You could argue that neither player was as good last season as Albert, and that's true. The expectation is that Fisher will eventually be that good or better. Remember that Albert wasn't very good as a rookie, either.

For the Chiefs, Jackson was and probably would have continued to be a part-time player. He came out of the game on passing downs, so he was basically a run defender last season. He quietly did a nice job of that. But the Falcons gave him $25 million over five years. A part-time player has to be a standout to earn $5 million per season, and Jackson wasn't that.

McCluster was given $12 million over three years, something the Chiefs could have afforded. But for what? McCluster did a nice job as a punt returner last season, and the Chiefs might have difficulty replacing that ability. But on offense, McCluster had little impact in his four seasons with Kansas City. He had 172 catches and 662 rushing yards, but name three big offensive plays he made for the Chiefs. Can't do it, can you?

Losing both Asamoah and Schwartz was the most puzzling. The Chiefs should have made a bigger push to sign one of them. They have a hole in their starting lineup now at right guard that could be difficult to fill. But the Falcons and Giants both needed help on their offensive lines, perhaps more than the Chiefs do.

A tough day for the Chiefs, as we suspected it would be. But the fact is that other teams had more money to spend than the Chiefs and needed those players as much or more than Kansas City did.
A quick Kansas City Chiefs free-agency update:
  • Left tackle Branden Albert and receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and guard Jon Asamoah agreed to contract terms as soon as the free-agent market opened this afternoon. Albert went as expected to the Miami Dolphins for five years and $46 million, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. McCluster went to the Tennessee Titans for three years and $12 million, also according to Schefter. Jackson and Asamoah agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons, according to media reports. With the Falcons, they will be reunited with Scott Pioli. The general manager of the Chiefs when Jackson and Asamoah were drafted, Pioli is now Atlanta's assistant GM.
  • Guard Geoff Schwartz will visit with the New York Giants and has had discussions with the St. Louis Rams.
  • The Chiefs may be in the market for a kick return specialist, given the loss of McCluster. They have interest in Devin Hester, formerly of the Bears, but his price would have to come down for him to sign in Kansas City.

Moving day for many Chiefs?

March, 11, 2014
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The free-agent signing period begins Tuesday, and as of now the Chiefs have yet to re-sign any of their significant free agents. The parade appears to be lining up at the exit door. Left tackle Branden Albert is at the front, as he reportedly has already agreed on a contract with the Miami Dolphins. Receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, offensive linemen Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz and linebacker Akeem Jordan could be right behind him.

The Chiefs have attempted to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, and that could still happen. But the Chiefs didn't appear confident in that happening. They had arranged a free-agent meeting with defensive end Red Bryant before he signed last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Free safety Kendrick Lewis has been a longtime starter and is also a potential unrestricted free agent. But the Chiefs may be ready to move on from him.

The Chiefs have some money to spend in free agency and draft picks to use on potential replacements. In some cases they've already prepared for the eventuality of losing some of these free agents. They drafted tackle Eric Fisher in the first round last year knowing this day with Albert would probably come this year. They signed Weston Dressler of the Canadian Football League hoping he could be the next McCluster. Last year they drafted linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings, and they are possible replacements for Jordan and Lewis.

That doesn't mean this isn't an meaningful day for the Chiefs. With the exception of Jordan and Schwartz, who were signed to one-year, free-agent contracts last year, these players didn't join the Chiefs as stopgap players but as those they could build around. Albert and Jackson are former first-round draft picks. McCluster was drafted in the second round, Asamoah in the third, Lewis in the fifth.

More importantly, many should be heading into their prime seasons. Albert will turn 30 in November but plays a position where he could retain his skills for the life of the new contract he will sign. Jackson is 27; McCluster, Asamoah and Lewis are 25.

If they're all out the door at a single time, that's a hefty blow to the Chiefs. They made plenty of progress in the past year, going from two wins in 2012 to 11 victories and the playoffs in 2013. Continuing on that track will be difficult enough but perhaps impossible if they lose this entire group of players.

If the Chiefs fall back to the pack in 2014, they may look back on this day as a big reason why.

Top free-agent roundup: AFC West

March, 10, 2014
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The AFC West produced three playoff teams and the eventual AFC title winner in the Denver Broncos, so it should come as no surprise that many top free agents come from the division. Oakland Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez, Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold, Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and San Diego Chargers reporter Eric D. Williams break down the top 15:

1. Branden Albert, Chiefs offensive tackle: Kansas City won’t franchise him this year. Albert will get a nice contract elsewhere.

2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Broncos cornerback: He’s not yet 30 and still a top-tier athlete.

3. Eric Decker, Broncos wide receiver: Productive in scoring zone, will be one of the biggest wide receivers on open market, but rarely faced opponents’ top cornerback in Broncos offense.

4. Lamarr Houston, Raiders defensive end: Better suited to the left side because he’s not the prototypical speed-rusher.

Moreno
5. Knowshon Moreno, Broncos running back: Has had multiple knee surgeries, including one on a torn ACL in 2011, but he runs with passion, is solid in pass protection and a productive receiver.

6. Jared Veldheer, Raiders offensive tackle: Didn’t have a very good season in 2013 but would attract some attention as a free agent.

7. Geoff Schwartz, Chiefs guard: Was a free-agent find for Kansas City last season. Can play right tackle if needed.

8. Jon Asamoah, Chiefs guard: A better pass-protector than run-blocker. He will be only 26 in July.

9. Shaun Phillips, Broncos linebacker: He’ll be 33 in May but showed last season that he can still be an effective situational pass-rusher.

10. Zane Beadles, Broncos guard: For a movement-based front, he’s a smart, durable option who played in every game while with Denver.

McCluster
McCluster
11. Dexter McCluster, Chiefs wide receiver/punt returner: Hasn’t had a huge impact on the offense in Kansas City, but he will be only 26 in August.

12. Robert Ayers, Broncos defensive end: Had his best season in 2013, so maybe he’s a late bloomer.

13. Tyson Jackson, Chiefs defensive end: Like Ayers, he had his best season in 2013, so maybe he’s figuring it out as well.

14. Tracy Porter, Raiders cornerback: He’s versatile enough to cover the slot receiver, and he had one of his better seasons in 2013.

15. Kendrick Lewis, Chiefs safety: He’s only 25 but was a better player earlier in his career. He hasn’t been the same since a shoulder injury in 2012.

Free-agency primer: Chiefs

March, 7, 2014
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» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

Key free agents: T Branden Albert, G Jon Asamoah, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Akeem Jordan, FS Kendrick Lewis, WR/PR Dexter McCluster, G Geoff Schwartz

Where they stand: The Chiefs need help at wide receiver but may prefer to do their shopping at this position through the draft after having made a sizable financial commitment to Dwayne Bowe last year. The Chiefs have the depth at tackle to withstand the likely loss of Albert, but they'll need to do some shopping if Asamoah and Schwartz, who split time as the starter at right guard last season, depart. On defense, the Chiefs could use another big body for their defensive line, particularly if Jackson leaves as a free agent. A replacement who can be an upgrade over Lewis is another priority. Sanders Commings, a rookie last season, could potentially fill that spot. Whether the Chiefs actively pursue a veteran there could depend on how they feel about Commings' ability to handle the position.

What to expect: The Chiefs should have about $9.6 million in salary-cap space, which is one of the lowest totals in the league and probably won't allow them to win many bidding wars. Even if the Chiefs had the cap room and were so inclined, this isn't a great crop of free-agent wide receivers. Seattle's Golden Tate might make sense for the Chiefs, but only if the price doesn't get out of hand. The Chiefs could look to division rival Denver for guard Zane Beadles if they need a starter to replace Asamoah and Schwartz. Seattle's Red Bryant could be a fit at defensive end if the Chiefs don't re-sign Jackson. Buffalo's Jairus Byrd is exactly what Kansas City is looking for at free safety, but he will likely be out of its price range. If the Chiefs go safety shopping, they might go for a lower-priced option, like Miami's Chris Clemons.

Free-agent report: DE Tyson Jackson

February, 24, 2014
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General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid desperately need our opinion, so we're going to help them out over the next couple of weeks. We'll take a look at the 10 top prospective Kansas City Chiefs free agents, one each day, and examine the reasons for re-signing them and those for letting them loose on the open market. Then we'll look at how the situation should play out. We'll start with the first player drafted by former general manager Scott Pioli.

Jackson
DE Tyson Jackson

Five NFL seasons, five with the Chiefs. Will be 28 when next season begins.

Chiefs career: Jackson was the third overall pick in the 2009 draft but has never played up to that standard. Jackson was drafted to fill a need when the Chiefs required some defensive ends to play in what was their new 3-4 defense. Jackson's first three seasons were largely a waste. He started in two of them mainly because the Chiefs were trying to justify the pick and they had no one better. Jackson's play picked up in 2012 and again last season to the point where on running downs Jackson was a solid player. He also had a career-high four sacks.

Argument for keeping Jackson: He will never be a star but Jackson last season showed he can be a productive player. He has been for the most part durable, missing six games in five seasons. It seems a shame to give up on him just as he seems to be finding his game. He's heading into the prime seasons of his career.

Argument for letting Jackson go: Jackson played mainly on running downs, or less than half of the defensive snaps last season. Despite his career-high in sacks, he never developed as a pass-rusher to the point the Chiefs hoped. They have a part-time defensive end in Mike DeVito, who played on running downs on the other side of the line from Jackson. The Chiefs have an available replacement in Allen Bailey, who has shown more pass-rush skills than Jackson.

What should happen: The Chiefs shouldn't give Jackson a big contract. They did that once out of necessity when he was picked near the top of the draft and he's hogged a disproportionate amount of their salary cap ever since. He's worth bringing back at the right price but not at a cost they're not comfortable with. If he leaves, the Chiefs can either play Bailey or a draft pick and perhaps get as much production at a more reasonable price.

Rookie report: DE Mike Catapano

February, 14, 2014
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DE Mike Catapano

How acquired: 2013 seventh-round draft pick.

2013 season: Catapano initially began his NFL career as an outside linebacker but after going through the offseason practices the Chiefs moved him to defensive end. He played a surprising number of defensive snaps, 89, for a rookie seventh-round draft pick from an Ivy League school, Princeton. He showed some pass rush ability at times and had one sack.

Looking ahead: At 270 pounds, Catapano is undersized to be a regular at defensive end. He’ll need to put on some weight if he’s ever going to be part of the playing rotation. His role in 2014 could be determined by what happens with one of last season’s starting ends, Tyson Jackson. He is a prospective free agent and if he leaves, the Chiefs may draft or sign his replacement. They also have Allen Bailey as the top reserve who could step in for Jackson. Regardless, Catapano looked last season like he was a long way from being ready to contribute on an every-down basis. He does have some pass rush skills but he may never become anything more than a situational pass-rusher.
Kansas City radio station 610 KCSP is reporting the Kansas City Chiefs will let left tackle Branden Albert, their franchise player in 2013, become an unrestricted free agent as opposed to signing him to a long-term contract.

Albert
That wouldn't be a surprising move. We've already told this is going to be a different type of offseason for the Chiefs. For a change, they won't have much wiggle room under the salary cap and have possible replacements lined up and already on their roster for four of their main free agents: Albert, wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and free safety Kendrick Lewis.

In a recent interview with KCSP, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt wasn't speaking specifically about these players, but alluded to some roster upheaval.

"In the NFL today, it's constantly a building process," Hunt said. "You can count on over 20 percent of your roster turning over in any year. That's just life in the National Football League. We'll be looking to get better. Part of that will be through free agency and a big part of it will be through the draft."

The Chiefs began preparing to lose Albert on the April day last year they selected another tackle, Eric Fisher, with the first pick in the draft. The Chiefs have Fisher and Donald Stephenson to play tackle and won't have room under their salary cap to re-sign Albert at a big price.

The same may ultimately hold true for McCluster, Jackson and Lewis as well.

No room for their own free agents?

February, 11, 2014
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The Kansas City Chiefs were over the NFL’s estimated 2014 salary limit by about $2 million last week, before they released veteran cornerback Dunta Robinson. Now that Robinson’s gone, the Chiefs are under the estimated cap of about $126 million, but not by much.

They will find enough wiggle room as they move along to sign their draft picks and dabble in free agency as well. But this will be a different year for the Chiefs than they’ve had for some time as far as offseason spending. Last year, for example, they re-signed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a lucrative, long-term contract, made left tackle Branden Albert their franchise player at a hefty price tag, picked up a big salary when they traded for quarterback Alex Smith and then forked over significant cash in signing free agents like cornerback Sean Smith, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.

So, yes, things will be different for the Chiefs this year. There may be no room for some of their own free agents. The Chiefs appear to be grooming Sanders Commings, a rookie last season who will make the minimum salary in 2014, to replace Kendrick Lewis at free safety. The Chiefs signed CFL veteran wide receiver/kick returner Weston Dressler, also at the minimum, perhaps to replace Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs might make an effort to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, but if he’s too expensive the Chiefs have Allen Bailey ready to step in.

Albert is perhaps the most productive player of the bunch. He was a Pro Bowler last season, a more than capable left tackle.

But the Chiefs drafted tackle Eric Fisher last year with the first overall pick anticipating this scenario. Fisher can move to the left side and the Chiefs have Donald Stephenson, who they believe is a capable starter, to play right tackle.

Albert wants to be paid a premium salary and there’s no shame in that. If he’s ever going to get a huge long-term contract, it’s going to be at this time of his career.

He’s just not going to get it from the Chiefs. In that respect, he could be like a lot of his teammates who are prospective free agents. He could be playing for another team next season, perhaps even against the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs roster series moves on to the defensive line, where the Chiefs may part with a former first-round draft pick.

The roster (10): Chas Alecxih, Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano, Mike DeVito, Dominique Hamilton, Jaye Howard, Tyson Jackson, Brandon Moore, Dontari Poe, Jerrell Powe.

Potential 2014 free agents: Jackson, Powe.

The position: The Chiefs received a Pro Bowl season from Poe at nose tackle and very good seasons from DeVito and Jackson, at least in their run defense. But Jackson, their No. 1 pick in 2009, could be an unrestricted free agent. He would be nice to retain because Jackson has value. But since he hasn’t been an every-down player and the Chiefs don’t think of him in that term, they don’t need to bust their budget to re-sign him. If Jackson signs with another team, the Chiefs have a decision about how to replace him. It might be time to give Bailey a shot. He played well against the run and has some pass-rush ability. If Bailey is in their lineup, the Chiefs would have little in the way of proven depth so adding to their numbers at these positions would be essential. The Chiefs need to find a nose tackle they’re comfortable with to provide some relief for Poe. He played a lot of snaps for a 346-pound guy. Powe could be that backup.

The Chiefs should keep: Bailey, Catapano, DeVito, Poe and Powe.

The Chiefs should dump: Alecxih, Hamilton, Howard, Jackson and Moore.

Free agency/draft priority: High if Jackson leaves. The Chiefs wouldn’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money or use a high draft pick, but they would need to make an investment. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper in his first mock draft of the season has the Chiefs taking Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the first round. If when the draft rolls around Tuitt proves to be a good value when the Chiefs make the 23rd pick, they should take him.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Earlier I posted on the team grade given to the Kansas City Chiefs by Pro Football Focus and how the Chiefs made the second biggest leap from 2012 to 2013 behind only the Carolina Panthers.

Flowers
The Chiefs' big jump was fueled by improved performances from several players. On offense, the grade PFF gave to running back Jamaal Charles went up dramatically from one season to the next. PFF's grade for quarterback Alex Smith in 2013 was vastly improved to that of his 2012 predecessors, Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel.

On defense, the grades for defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey, linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and safety Eric Berry were all significantly up from 2012.

A few players had their grades drop. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert were among them, but neither player had a huge drop.

One player did have a huge drop; cornerback Brandon Flowers. He will participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii, more of an honor for what he did in previous seasons than how he played in 2013.

Flowers had some dismal games in 2013, none worse than the torching he received against Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys early in the season, and then by the San Diego Chargers halfway through. In fairness to Flowers, he missed a couple of games early in the season because of a sore knee, and it might not have been right the rest of the way.

Still, it's a fact that Flowers didn't play very well, and it's to the point it's natural to wonder about his future with the Chiefs. He's a 5-foot-9, 187-pound player on a team that now prefers bigger cornerbacks. It's more than a little telling that the Chiefs used Flowers to cover the slot receiver in their nickel defense as the season went on.

Flowers has a big contract (he counts $10.5 million against the Chiefs' 2014 salary cap) and he might not be the best fit for a team that requires it's cornerbacks to play so much one-on-one coverage.

It might be a mistake for the Chiefs to give up on Flowers, who turns 28 next month. Flowers has played well in seasons past, and though he's a little guy, but doesn't usually play like one. He's not afraid to stick his nose into the running game.

But in a division with big receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Keenan Allen, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, it's a fair question: Is Flowers right for the Chiefs?

It will be interesting to see in the coming months what general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid think.

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