Denver and KC Could Make a Move for Northcutt

The hot rumor at the NFL combines was that Kansas City was interested in pursuing free agent wide receiver Dennis Northcutt. Now the Denver Broncos appear to be the front-runner to acquire the unhappy wide receiver from the Cleveland Browns.

When rumors started circulating about the Chiefs possible interest in Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Plaxico Burris, rumblings around the AFC baked up the comments by Dick Vermeil at the conclusion of the playoff run.

He wanted to upgrade the receiving corps. At the NFL Combines this past February the Chiefs had hoped to not only gage the NFL talent at wide receiver but make some inroads about the possibility of signing a player of the caliber of Northcutt.

Now he was set to be a free agent but like Terrell Owens, his agent failed to turn in the required paperwork that would have made his client void the final three years of his contract with the Browns thus making him a free agent.

Unlike Owens, Northcutt is still grounded in Cleveland. His agent had tried to work out a deal with the Baltimore Ravens for a second round draft pick, but the Browns are reluctant and wisely so, to trade within the division.

As far the Chiefs, they are leaning toward drafting a wide receiver with their first pick. The two most prominent names being bantered around Arrowhead are Wisconsin Wide Receiver Lee Evans and Oklahoma State standout Rashaun Woods. Both would make great additions to the Chiefs roster.

But that thinking might change if the Chiefs get involved in the Northcutt sweepstakes. The Denver Broncos now appear set to make a run for Northcutt as they look for a replacement to the recently retired Ed McCaffrey.

The Broncos are disappointed with the development, or lack thereof, of Ashlie Lelie. He was a monumental bust for them last year and he has fallen out of grace with Denver head coach Mike Shanahan.

The Browns want nothing more than to trade Northcutt who has said all the right things about getting a bus ticket out of town. But they still have to find a suitor. The Chiefs would be a perfect fit for Northcutt and he's also bolster the Broncos suddenly pass happy offense.

With quarterback Jake Plummer taking over for Brian Griese and the trade of Clinton Portis this off-season, Shanahan appears to want to take advantage of the lack of pass rush within the AFC West division.

All three teams, the Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers do not efetively put pressure on the quarterback. None of them were all that strong against the run but the Chiefs with the signing of Lionel Daulton and the Raiders with Ted Washington have at least addressed the middle of their defensive lines.

Kansas City also has to determine if Johnnie Morton will be a cap casualty on June 1st. He already re-structured his contract but the Chiefs are not happy with his production the last two seasons.

But if they want to make a run at Northcutt, the Chiefs will have to step up to the plate and make a deal before the Broncos get one done with Cleveland. The Broncos like the Chiefs are both looking at a two-year window to get back to the Super Bowl. Denver has made far more moves than the Chiefs but that means very little in April.

Kansas City has simply chosen a different path. The Broncos have been flashy but both are very risky. It's obvious that the 2004 AFC West Champion will be decided by the Chiefs and Broncos. Whether or not the addition of Northcutt gives either team the edge remains to be seen.

That question will be answered on opening day as the Chiefs face-off against the Broncos in Denver to start their 2004 season.


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