Chiefs Might Be Looking to Upgrade Defensive Line

Rumors had the Chiefs interested in acquiring defensive end Lional Dalton but that appears to be a dead issue now. The Jacksonville Jaguars are now letting teams know that Tony Brackens is available for a trade.

According to the Denver Post the Chiefs were interested in acquiring defensive end Lional Dalton from the Broncos but that's not going to happen. He is expected to get traded to the Washington Redskins later today. So it appears the Chiefs want to upgrade depth on the defensive line and they may be shopping elsewhere.

There have been rumblings out of Jacksonville that the Jaguars are shopping defensive end Tony Brackens and if the Chiefs were interested in Daulton, could they be interested in Brackens?

The Jaguars were going to release Brackens on June 1st but they resigned him after restructuring his contract to help reduce their 2003 salary cap. No team has mismanaged the salary cap more than the Jaguars with the possible exception of our friends in Oakland. The Jaguars are still in trouble with Brackens and his cap number. He counts $1.5 million this year but has a $10 million deferred payment due.

The Jaguars seem to be in a state of flux as they are also shopping starting quarterback Mark Brunell, who was a Chiefs target before they traded for Trent Green two years ago. They appear to be in a rebuilding mode but that's news to their fans and season ticket holders.

New head coach Jack Del Rio signed numerous veterans in the off-season and the Jaguars were active shoppers landing among others, Hugh Douglas in free agency.

But now they appear to be waffling from their off-season plan and might not be as competitive as they once thought going into this season. A lot of these changes has to due with the four game suspension of wide receiver Jimmy Smith.

Still with Brunell behind center, the Jaguars have the best chance of making the post season. In fact, they have a very easy schedule but they appear to want to give the reigns to rookie Byron Leftwich.

Brackens was on the Chiefs June 1st shopping list and they along with every other NFL team, were surprised that Jacksonville was able to get him to agree to a new contract. The Chiefs signed Vonnie Holliday after losing out on Douglas and that appears to be a solid move.

Brackens missed significant time last year with injuries. He played in only five games and had only one sack last year but that's still half the total Duane Clemons had all season. It's obvious that Brackens is half the player today that he was two years ago but he'd give the Chiefs another solid back up behind both Holliday and Eric Hicks.

But he does have that deferred payment and the Jaguars would have to eat that over the next several years if he's released. So they are exploring trade options.

It doesn't make much sense for Jacksonville to keep him. He's currently fourth on the teams depth chart at defensive end and it's unlikely they will keep him around after Sunday's cuts.

The Chiefs are planning on using R-Kal Truluck as a back up to Hollidaybut only on passing downs only and then using rookie sixth round draft pick Jimmy Wilkerson behind Hicks but Brackens would be an upgrade.

The Chiefs love the potential of Wilkerson and he's played well with the first defensive unit. But Brackens can play, when healthy, both against the pass and run effectively. Wilkerson will be a big contributor to the team this year but Brackens could bridge the gap until Wilkerson gets a better grasp of the Chiefs defense.

In addition, Wilkerson does have the ability to drop back into pass coverage, where as Brackens could only play on the ends. But he would not have to be an every down player in Kansas City.

The need for Brackens might seem more apparent now since the Chiefs still have some concerns at cornerback.

The importance of putting heat on the quarterback this season will be paramount to the success of the defense in 2003. The defense does not have to lead the league but they have to cut down on big plays. They've done that for the most part this exibition season.

However in defense of the Chiefs cornerbacks last season, they were unfairly blamed for getting burned or being in the wrong position over and over again. Not even the best of the best cornerbacks can cover NFL wide receivers for more than five or six seconds.

The Chiefs had no pass rush last season and I expect them to be very aggressive out of necessity to protect their only defensive weakness by blitzing they're linebackers and safeties on obvious passing plays.

They have more speed at linebacker with the addition of Shawn Barber, the return of Ryan Sims and the continued development of Truluck. But another solid veteran defensive end would be a welcome addition to the final 2003 roster.

The Chiefs were close to signing Dalton in free agency back in March but he chose Denver over Kansas City and the Broncos want no part of him now as he'll be soon be playing for the Redskins.

The Chiefs have room under the salary cap by roughly $1.5 million so they can absorb a contract for Brackens. It was reported by the Denver Post that the Chiefs were going to pay Dalton $1 million this season if they acquired him from the Broncos.

Brackens is yet to play a game in the exibition season but is expected to play in the Jaguars home game Thursday night against the Redskins in Jacksonville.

The Chiefs play the Rams that same night but I bet they'll check the post game notes to see if Brackens made any contributions.

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