NFL Nation: Jon Asamoah

For those with ESPN Insider access, a team of ESPN’s personnel analysts (including former Colts general manager Bill Polian) have graded free agency for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Kansas City Chiefs ranked 16th for the things they have and haven’t done in free agency Insider, and received a C+.

Sanders
One analyst, Matt Williamson, a former scout with the Cleveland Browns, thought the Chiefs took too big a hit on their offensive line by letting starters Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz walk away in free agency. He will be proved right if Eric Fisher, appointed as Albert’s successor by coach Andy Reid, can’t adequately handle the starting left tackle spot, and the Chiefs don’t capably fill the vacant starting position at right guard.

The other analysts praised the Chiefs for their restraint in not overpaying for any of the five departing free agents. They suggested what I had written earlier, that losing Pittsburgh wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the Denver Broncos was their biggest failure of free agency.

“Sanders would have been a perfect complement to Dwayne Bowe," wrote Louis Riddick, a former personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles.

While the Chiefs’ success in free agency was ranked in the middle of the league, they were second among teams from the AFC West. The other three teams were at or near one end of the spectrum or the other.

The Denver Broncos were rated fourth with a B+. The San Diego Chargers were 26th with a C, and the Oakland Raiders were 32nd and last with an F.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank took a moment to talk about the state of his team during the owners' meetings in Orlando.

He addressed a variety of issues with ESPN.com reporter Calvin Watkins, including the free-agent additions made over the past few weeks.

Jackson
Hester
The Falcons added arguably the greatest return man of all time in Devin Hester along with nose tackle Paul Soliai, defensive end Tyson Jackson, offensive guard Jon Asamoah, and cornerback/returner Javier Arenas.

"We had a great free agency," Blank told Watkins. "We clearly identified our greatest needs are our offensive and defensive lines. That's where the major moves are made in free agency."

Blank seemed particularly impressed with Hester, who was signed to a three-year, $9 million deal.

"We needed to definitely improve on special teams, and the addition of Devin Hester, we think, can still play at a very high level, we think can be a wonderful asset to our offense," Blank said. "Very impressed with him, met him at the combine when he first came out and saw him last week at the house and he came by the house for a chat. It's amazing how much he's matured, married, couple of kids etc., a nice young man. I like the corner, the addition of Arenas. (Assistant general manager) Scott Pioli working with Thomas [Dimitroff] has been a great addition, together with the rest of the personnel staff. I feel we're in a good place."

The additions of Soliai and Jackson symbolized the Falcons' upcoming move to more of a 3-4-based defense.

"Well, if you talk to Mike Nolan, our defensive coordinator, he wouldn't answer the question, but I'm not sure if I can, but it appears to me that we're moving towards a 3-4 based on the players that we've picked up."

Blank said after the season that he firmly believed his team could go from worst to first after finishing 4-12 last season. The Falcons were 13-3 during the 2012 season, falling one game shy of the Super Bowl.

"It's an aspiration of 31 other owners and the coaches and general managers, so we have a lot of talent," Blank said. "Prior to last year, we had the second most wins over a five-year period, and including last year, the third-most. We're in a good place. The talent is there. And if we improve in some areas, we hope to be competitive."
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.
It was clear from the outset how the Atlanta Falcons wanted to approach free agency: Get stronger up front.

The offensive and defensive lines struggled miserably last season. So if money was going to be spent on free agents, it was bound to be spent on offensive and defensive linemen, not safeties or tight ends.

Such was the case when the Falcons agreed to terms with defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson, and offensive guard Jon Asamoah.

Soliai
Asamoah
Starting with Soliai, the Falcons rewarded the big nose tackle with a five-year contract with a max value of $33 million with $14 million guaranteed, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. The 6-foot-4, 340-pound Soliai immediately becomes the Falcons' most intimidating defensive lineman. And he'll be counted upon to take on double teams and pave the way for the linebackers to make plays with the Falcons expected to move toward more of a 3-4-based scheme.

Jackson (6-4, 296) will be a key figure up front, too. The former third-overall pick in 2009 was drafted by Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli when Pioli was the Chiefs' general manager. Jackson reportedly received a five-year deal worth a max of $25 million.

And Asamoah, who also agreed to a five-year deal (financial terms were not immediately available), might be the guy with the biggest burden to carry. The offensive line has been horrendous, allowing Matt Ryan to be the league's most pressured quarterback last season. The Falcons hope Asamoah steps in at right guard and develops into a stabilizing force. He is known for his pass protection and should be able to provide support as a run-blocker.

"Jon is a physical, experienced offensive lineman that will add a veteran presence to our offensive line," Falcons coach Mike Smith said about Asamoah.

The Falcons got it right. They addressed the most pressing needs from the outside and also re-signed two other key figures in center Joe Hawley and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Hawley should start in the middle with Asamoah and left guard Justin Blalock next to him. Babineaux should add depth to the defensive line rotation.

It all could equal a climb back to the top for the Falcons, although other aspects still need to take shape. The release of former Pro Bowl free safety Thomas DeCoud means the Falcons have to find a capable replacement next to strong safety William Moore. There is still a void at tight end with Tony Gonzalez retiring, although Levine Toilolo will be counted upon to elevate his game.

More importantly, the Falcons need to look at adding an offensive tackle and pass-rusher, maybe through the draft. The names that immediately come to mind are Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Buffalo outside linebacker Khalil Mack. Right now, the Falcons hold the sixth-overall pick in the draft.

It will make for some interesting decisions to come. But for now, the Falcons made the right choice.

"We were focused on adding pieces along our offensive and defensive lines, and I feel we were able to accomplish that today," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.

Certainly the Falcons have much more to accomplish.

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.

Some options for the Chiefs' OL

March, 10, 2014
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The NFL’s free-agent signing period begins Tuesday. Though teams have been able to talk with the representatives of prospective free agents since Saturday, no contracts can be signed until Tuesday.

Once that moment arrives, it shouldn’t take long for the Kansas City Chiefs to lose their left tackle of their last six seasons, Branden Albert. He reportedly will sign with the Miami Dolphins shortly after the signing period begins.

The Chiefs have two other free agent offensive linemen who could strike a deal with another club. Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah shared the starting right guard spot last season and one or both could depart as well. Though Albert is a Pro Bowler and plays a premium position, it would hurt the Chiefs more to lose Schwartz and Asamoah than Albert. The Chiefs began preparing for the eventuality they would lose Albert from the day they drafted Eric Fisher with the first overall choice last year. The Chiefs have Fisher and Donald Stephenson to play tackle and they believe both will soon develop into high-quality players.

The Chiefs don’t have that kind of depth in the middle of their line. In center Rodney Hudson and left guard Jeff Allen they have two young players in the same category as Fisher and Stephenson. But the rest of their offensive linemen are in the developmental category.

If the Chiefs lose Schwartz or Asamoah or both, they could turn to the draft to replace them. The Chiefs have the 23rd pick, but that’s their only selection among the top 86. They traded their second-round pick to San Francisco in last year’s deal that brought quarterback Alex Smith. One of the best guards is Stanford’s David Yankey. The Chiefs could plug him in as their right guard from the start. One problem with using a rookie there is that the Chiefs already have a young offensive line. If the Chiefs lose Albert, Asamoah and Schwartz, Stephenson becomes the oldest of their linemen and he doesn’t turn 26 until September. Hudson, with three years of experience, is the eldest of the group in that regard.

Free agency is another option for the Chiefs. The problem there is that, according to Pro Football Focus, Schwartz and Asamoah are the best available free-agent guards. PFF has them rated 1 and 2, so the Chiefs would be taking a step or two backward no matter whom they sign, in theory at least.

The Chiefs could also promote into the starting lineup one of the developmental linemen on their roster. They have three: Eric Kush, Rishaw Johnson and Rokevious Watkins. The Chiefs got a peek at all three when they started the final regular-season game last year in San Diego. Each had a negative grade in the game, according to PFF’s system. Watkins particularly struggled with his pass blocking and Kush his run blocking. Johnson distinguished himself in neither area.

One of them could wind up in the Chiefs’ starting lineup next season. Those chances increase if the Chiefs fail to re-sign either Asamoah or Schwartz.
Plenty of speculation will take place from now until NFL free agency actually beings Tuesday after 4 p.m. ET.

From the Atlanta Falcons' perspective, upgrading the lines needs to be the emphasis. In terms of the offensive line, one player makes the most sense to pursue immediately.

Asamoah
The Falcons want to add a big, tough offensive guard, and the Kansas City Chiefs' 6-foot-4, 305-pound Jon Asamoah fits that criteria. Asamoah was drafted by Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli when Pioli was the Chiefs' general manager, so there is a natural tie. Immediately after the draft, Pioli raved about Asamoah's versatility as a guard with the ability to play center.

But will Asamoah even reach free agency? NFL Nation Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher wrote about the tough decision Kansas City has in keeping either Asamoah or fellow offensive guard Geoff Schwartz. Asamoah actually lost his starting job to Schwartz late last season after suffering a shoulder injury.

Asamoah, who turns 26 in July, is ranked the third-best guard bound for free agency behind Carolina's Travelle Wharton and Schwartz by Pro Football Focus. He has earned a reputation for his pass blocking, which is key for a Falcons team emphasizing the need to protect Matt Ryan next season. Ryan was the league's most pressured quarterback in 2013.

Instability at the right guard spot sure didn't help Ryan's cause. Garrett Reynolds, who was released Feb. 18, got pushed back way too often after beginning the season as the starter. Reynolds got replaced by Peter Konz, who moved over after losing his starting center spot to Joe Hawley. Konz didn't fare much better at guard. Harland Gunn also got an audition at right guard late in the season.

What the Falcons need is someone who will be a stable force at right guard for years to come. Sure, plugging in an aging veteran could help for next season, but the Falcons have to look well beyond. That's another reason Asamoah makes sense.

It will all come down to the price tag, as with most moves in free agency. The Falcons already committed $7.6 million per season to left guard Justin Blalock. Both Blalock and tackle Sam Baker count $13.71 million against the $133 million cap in 2014.

Asamoah made $1.323 million with the Chiefs last season. Paying him somewhere between $4-5 million per year might be manageable.

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.
Another in our series on potential Kansas City Chiefs free agents, this time with a look at a starting offensive lineman.

G Geoff Schwartz

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

Schwartz
Chiefs career: The Chiefs signed Schwartz to a one-year contract last season because of his ability to play either guard or right tackle. He opened the season as a reserve, but when a shoulder injury forced right guard Jon Asamoah out of the lineup for a late-November game against San Diego, Schwartz took his spot. He played so well the Chiefs left him in the lineup even after Asamoah’s return. The Chiefs started scoring more points starting with the San Diego game, and while it’s a stretch to connect that to Schwartz’s presence in the starting lineup, he certainly didn’t hurt.

Argument for keeping Schwartz: He was arguably the Chiefs' best offensive lineman over the season’s final six games. Asamoah is also a potential free agent and the Chiefs don’t have the depth to survive the loss of both players.

Argument for letting Schwartz go: Schwartz wants to be a starter and wants to be paid like one. Can’t blame him for that but the Chiefs don’t have unlimited funds. It might make more sense to re-sign Asamoah, who is two years younger than Schwartz. The Chiefs could then pair Asamoah with Jeff Allen as their starting guards.

What should happen: The Chiefs shouldn’t be in the business of setting their top offensive linemen free. They will probably lose left tackle Branden Albert to free agency, and if they lose Schwartz as well, they’ll watch arguably their two best offensive linemen from last season walk out the door. That’s no way to build a powerful offense or a championship team. The Chiefs need to find a way to re-sign Schwartz.

Free-agency series: Offensive line

February, 28, 2014
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Here is the fifth of a 10-part series breaking down the Jacksonville Jaguars' free-agency needs, position by position:

Offensive line

Who is on the roster: OT Cameron Bradfield, G/C Mike Brewster, OT Luke Joeckel, C Patrick Lewis, OT DeMarcus Love, G Jacques McClendon, G Stephane Milhim, G Drew Nowak, G Uche Nwaneri, OT Austin Pasztor, G Will Rackley, and OT Sam Young.

Joeckel
Analysis: Injuries hurt the unit early in the season and really impacted it late. The group struggled in the transition to a zone-blocking scheme early in the season as well, which is why the Jaguars finished the first eight games last in the NFL in rushing. Joeckel, whom the Jaguars took with the No. 2 overall pick, spent the first four weeks of the season at right tackle before moving to his natural spot at left tackle following the trade of Eugene Monroe. He played less than a quarter against St. Louis before suffering a fractured ankle, but he was handling Robert Quinn (who finished with 19.0 sacks) pretty well before he got hurt. His injury forced Bradfield and Pasztor into the lineup, and Pasztor played surprisingly well. The team is encouraged by his potential. The biggest issue is the interior of the line. Brad Meester retired, so the Jaguars need a center. Nwaneri was solid at right guard, but left guard was an issue because Rackley played hurt all season and the Jaguars could never generate much push in the middle of the line.

NFL free agents of interest: C Alex Mack, C Ryan Wendell, C Brian De La Puenta, G Jon Asamoah, G Geoff Schwartz, and G Rich Ohrnberger.

Need meter: 9. After quarterback and leo, the interior of the offensive line is the Jaguars’ biggest need. GM David Caldwell has said the team would like to address that in free agency, and it would be a surprise if the Jaguars didn’t sign at least two starters, including a center, within the first few weeks of free agency. It’s unlikely the Jaguars would target the big names that are available, mainly because of cost, but if those players linger on the market and the price drops, the Jaguars would get involved. Even though Joeckel is talented and seemed to thrive in the very limited time he spent at left tackle, there are still questions about him, so the Jaguars might opt to add some experienced depth at tackle. Competition for roster spots on the line will be among the more interesting training camp battles.
Pro Football Focus has an interesting story ranking the top free agent guards and the Kansas City Chiefs have the top two on the list in Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah. That sets up an interesting decision for the Chiefs on which one to re-sign.

Asamoah
Schwartz
The easy answer is to bring them both back. That would give the Chiefs a solid middle three to their offensive line, including center Rodney Hudson. Since Schwartz and Asamoah shared the right guard spot last season, the Chiefs could switch one (probably Schwartz) to the left side and move Jeff Allen to a backup spot.

The problem with this is that the Chiefs won't have unlimited funds to solve the problem. Schwartz and Asamoah will want to be starters next season and will want to be paid like a starter. So re-signing both players will require a financial commitment from the Chiefs that may not be in their best interests, particularly when they have Allen available to play one of those spots.

It's a tough call for the Chiefs. Asamoah will turn 26 this summer, Schwartz 28. Schwartz has the versatility to also play right tackle if that's what the Chiefs need him to do. As PFF notes, Schwartz is the better run blocker, Asamoah the superior pass protector. That would seem to give Asamoah the edge to Andy Reid and his pass-heavy offense.

Then again, the Chiefs opted for Schwartz over Asamoah last season. Asamoah began the season as the starter at right guard but missed a game in late November against San Diego because of a shoulder injury. Schwartz played so well the Chiefs kept him in the lineup for the rest of the season, leaving Asamoah on the bench. And don't forget that the offense began to make its move at the time Schwartz was put into the lineup, though it's difficult to make the direct connection between the events.

Either way, the Chiefs would be keeping a good player and a valuable offensive lineman. They would be losing one, too.

Q and A: Should KC draft a QB?

February, 22, 2014
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Another week, another excellent batch of Kansas City Chiefs questions for the mailbag. Here we go:
 

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