When the Oakland Raiders grossly overpaid for the services of former Kansas City Chiefs starting center, Rodney Hudson shortly after free agency began, the team was faced with trying to find his replacement for the 2015 season.
In revamping the interior of the offensive line with the additions of Guards Ben Grubbs (via trade with the New Orleans Saints) and Paul Fanaika through free agency, the Chiefs made significant strides upgrading their offensive line. However, they still have a whole at center to fill before they complete their offensive line makeover.
For the moment, despite the fact he’s only started one NFL game in two seasons, Eric Kush, has the inside track to take the snaps under Quarterback, Alex Smith. Though to defend his lack of credentials, Kush was outstanding in that single start, the 2013 season finale at San Diego. I’m not convinced Kush can get the job done for sixteen weeks nor should the Chiefs be willing to take the risk at this point.
Fortunately, free agency never ends and Kansas City still has time before the draft to ink former Raiders starting center, Stefan Wisniewski.
Sounds simple right? Well it’s not.
He’s already visited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and the Washington Redskins without receiving a multi-year contract offer. He’s also drawn interest from the St. Louis Rams, Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs but hasn’t visited any of those teams as of yet.
So why hasn’t he been signed?
The biggest factor might come down to dollars. To date, NFL teams are reluctant to meet his contract demands – reportedly $4 million dollars per season. The real issue though, could be the fact he had off-season shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Either way it’s easy to see why nobody has inked the former Raiders starting center.
For both reasons, should the Chiefs pass in signing Wisniewski they could draft a center later this month to compete with Kush. If that’s the logic, they should push harder to get a deal done with the free agent center. I’m not sold there is a center in this draft, (most notably Cameron Erving from Florida State) that’s going to be better than Wisniewski in 2015 for the Chiefs.
Even if the Chiefs decided signing him made fiscal sense; he likely won’t be able to participate in any off-season programs. In fact, depending on how quickly his shoulder responds to rehab; Wisniewski might not be ready until after teams break training camp in mid to late August.
It sounds like I’m trying to talk the Chiefs out of this deal. In truth it makes sense on two accounts for Kansas City to ignore the warnings and take the risk.
First, the Chiefs would basically be swapping Hudson for Wisniewski and I think the latter is the better overall center. Secondly, the former Raiders starter will be able to show up the team that discarded him twice this season with a huge chip on his shoulder.
Still if the price of poker hasn’t come down on his contract demands it won’t matter what the Chiefs intentions might be in signing Wisniewski - because nobody is going to give him that lucrative contract.
So that means, he’ll have to weigh all the potential options, swallow his pride and sign a (one-year) prove it contract hoping an abundance of riches awaits him in 2016.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee USA Today Sports Images