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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
5 players worth more to others than to KC

By Adam Teicher

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.

Branden Albert
The 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.