NFL Version of Let's Play Tag

With Kansas City set to embark on the most important off-season in their franchise history, other NFL teams are placing franchise tags on some of the players who could be perfect candidates to upgrade the defense and offense for the Chiefs. There still are some players who will be available in next months free agent market that could still help but the pick-ins are getting slimmer and slimmer. But cornerback Fred Smoot is still available and he could be KC's top free agent catch next month.

As everyone knows in NFL circles and Chiefs fans around the world that this team needs defense and defense and more defense. With players such as Saints defensive end Darren Howard, formerly of Kansas State and the Jets John Abraham already tagged or reportedly going to be tagged by their respective teams; the Chiefs will have to choose wisely at that position from a group of up and comers.

Howard and Abraham were clearly the top two defensive ends in the market but they both would have been huge risks for the Chiefs to sign. Howard is a massive sack specialist but many question his work ethic and more importantly how far he's willing to stay in shape to be effective for an entire season. Abraham was a no-show in the Jets post-season, instead sitting to protect his next contract; that clearly set his teammates a buzz but that fraternity supported him and now the Jets have made it clear he'll be tagged.

Defensive Tackle Corey Simon of the Eagles another possible target for the Chiefs especially if Kansas City shops Ryan Sims as has been rumored this spring; could have been a nice centerpiece for Kansas City's defensive line. But Philly wants him back and that's a wise move on their part. That means the Chiefs should turn all their attention to the Broncos Reggie Hayward. Pound for pound based on talent and his ascending play; he'd be a perfect fit for the Chiefs. The Broncos have cooled on their latest offer to retain him and its doubtful; they'll tag him at this point unless they think their division rival is lining up to make him an offer. Stay tuned as the bad blood between these organizations, who love stealing former players from each other; could brew into a boil next month.

But by tagging Simon that means that linebacker Jeremiah Trotter could be a target for the Chiefs. After starting his career with the Eagles, he jettisoned his services to the highest bidder two seasons ago and found himself in the clutches of the Washington Redskins who sent him packing midway through the 2004 season. All he did was stabilize the middle linebacker position in Philly and he's now the hottest linebacker at his position. Though he's expected to return to Philly if his agent is smart; he'll force him to test the market. The Chiefs should snag him despite his penitence for injuries; he makes plays.

On the cornerback front, the Redskins Fred Smoot and the Seahawks Ken Lucas remain available. There is talk that Smoot will be tagged in Washington but Lucas appears ready to step into the market. The Seahawks after giving tackle Walters Jones a $15 million signing bonus are still two sheets shy of signing running back Shaun Alexander and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to long term contracts. This team also has 12 other free agents so it's not likely they'll have enough cap room to sign them all even with a billionaire owner. Smoot according to sources in NFL circles wants to visit the Chiefs and Lucas could follow. If the Chiefs were smart, they'd sign them both. That would mean Eric Warfield would become the third cornerback but to have three potential shut down corners on the field at the same time would be electric for this defense especially if they can lure Trotter and Hayward.

If that happens, then Kansas City will only have to upgrade their safety position which they could do in the draft and find one pass rushing end and a middle linebackers and they'd be set defensively. There is enough talent on the roster to back-up and rotate the new additions that could catapult this team into the Top 10 next season.

On offense this team can't stand pat either. They need a #1 receiver and they still have a chance at Jerry Porter from the Raiders and Plaxico Burress from the Steelers. The Raiders are apparently in the Randy Moss sweepstakes so if that happens; then they won't make an offer to re-sign or tag Porter. That would be great news for the Chiefs and Porter. Though injuries have plagued his career; when healthy Porter could be as valuable to the Chiefs offense as Hinds Ward is to the Steelers.

Speaking of Pittsburgh they've been telling everyone who's listening that they are not going to tag Burress. Though he has baggage in his back pocket, Burress if given a real opportunity to work in a high powered offense; could be the missing link to making the Chiefs offense unstoppable in 2005. With a defense still fluttering, the Chiefs learned last season that they'll need to seek perfection on offense and can't misfire in the Red Zone as they did in 2004. That means they'll need a big play receiver to compliment Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker and Marc Boerigter.

Over the next couple of weeks the Chiefs will be patiently waiting to see who gets tagged but if they can sign some of these players; they'll be the team to beat in the AFC West in 2005 especially when you consider nobody will pick them next year to do any damage in the division or the conference.


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