And one veteran defensive tackle, Aubrayo Franklin, appears to be at the very top of that short list for Kansas City.
Franklin may not be a household name but he has developed a reputation over the past nine seasons as being one of the best nose tackles in the NFL.
Good 3-4 nose tackles are hard to come which necessitates the question: why are the 49ers letting their productive starting nose tackle walk?
San Francisco designated Franklin as their franchise player in 2010 which cost them a little over $7 million. The 49ers may or may not still have that option again for the 2011 season, depending on the final terms of the new agreement between the owners and players. But should things remain the same, Franklin will earn roughly $12 million should he stay in the city by the bay.
There are rumblings that the 49ers will attempt to resign Franklin but not at the inflated asking price. This it's likely he could be on the move and one of the first cities on his free agent world tour could include Kansas City.
Franklin is a top tier veteran that is looking to land with a team that can give him one last hurrah at a Super Bowl. In years past, the Chiefs couldn't attract those types of players but with a surprising successful 2010 season that culminated with an AFC West Championship, the Chiefs suddenly have some selling points for Franklin.
Kansas City has one of the NFL's best defensive coordinators in Romeo Crennel which gives the Chiefs strong credibility in the free agency market.
And with Franklin in the mix, he could inject some much needed play making ability to push the Chiefs defense to even higher levels in 2011.
Currently incumbent starter, the unsigned Ron Edwards, lacks the productivity of Franklin but would resign for a blue light special contract in Kansas City. Edwards might also be a valuable veteran presence to aid 6th round draft pick Powe along in his development. But Franklin is a better option.
He's a gap eating specialist but he's not the end all difference maker that will steal the show on one defensive player after another. Franklin is not known as a workout warrior which could clash with Head Coach Todd Haley. But he can serve as a good teacher for the young and impressionable, Jerrell Powe.
Signing Franklin would be an improvement for sure but even though the Chiefs are at the bottom end of the salary floor, they need to spend their money diligently.
Over the last two seasons the Chiefs have meticulously built this roster preaching the ‘right 53' mantra. So recklessly spending at this point, could be costly in more ways than one. Throwing the kind of money at Franklin might handcuff General Manager Scott Pioli in addressing the teams very inept pass rush up the middle.
Still if the price is right and Franklin's contract numbers match his output game in and game out, he's a fine addition to the defensive puzzle. If his contract demands get in the way though the Chiefs defense might have to rely on Powe, who by all accounts has far more upside than Franklin.
Chiefs FA Target: Vernon Gholston
Chiefs FA Target: Plaxico Burress
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So should the Chiefs take a run at Franklin or give the NT job to Powe?
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