Chiefs Free Agent Needs Are Obvious

Scout.com and Warpaint Illustrated break down the Chiefs free agent needs. On Wednesday, agents and players will be allowed to talk to NFL teams. The Chiefs are already on the record but this team needs to upgrade at least four positions if they hope to contend for the AFC West title in 2005.

TOP NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES:
1. Cornerback. The Chiefs last-ranked pass defense currently as one guy, Eric Warfield, who can be considered an even reasonably competent cover man. Dexter McCleon is old and banged up and William Bartee has yet to make the transition from college safety to NFL corner, and he's been at it for five years. KC needs at least two people here, with one being a free agent who can provide immediate help. That help could come from Ty Law, Samari Rolle, Ken Lucas, Fred Smoot or Patrick Surtain. There are also rumblings in some NFL circles that Charles Woodson would like to play for Kansas City.

2. Linebacker. The mid-season loss of Shawn Barber didn't help an already hurting unit whose lack of speed became even more dramatic after Barber went down. KC's current group also doesn't cover or tackle especially well -- a big drawback in a Gunther Cunningham system that puts heavy emphasis on linebacker play. The top two linebackers on the market are the Eagles Jeremiah Trotter and the 49ers Julian Peterson. Both would be a strong fit but Trotter has the experience and skill level to be the Chiefs starting middle linebacker. The jury is out on Peterson who has fought injures the last two seasons but he would be a prime candidate to bring some fresh blood to the Chiefs defense.

3. Safety. FS Jerome Woods, despite his Pro Bowl season of 2003, has missed essentially 1 1/2 seasons in his past three campaigns. He'll be 32 in 2005 and is beginning to wear down. SS Greg Wesley's performance fell off dramatically after getting a new contract last year, but he still has time and the ability to get it back together. Still, some long-term help is needed here. This position will have to be address in the draft unless this team wants to try and convert an aging cornerback to safety like they did with Mark Collins in the 90's. Donovin Darius was the top safety on the market until he was tagged by the Jaguars last week.

4. Wide Receiver. The Chiefs will tender a one-year contract to wide receiver Marc Boerigter but this team needs to upgrade its receving corps this year. Eddie Kennison had a career year for the Chiefs in 2004 but he's not a #1 receiver. Johnnie Morton could be a cap cut in June so Kansas City could look for some help in free agency. The top targets are Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason but a more likley signing could be the Ravens Travis Taylor.

CHIEFS FREE AGENT STATUS:
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Derrick Blaylock; LB Monty Beisel; LB Quinton Caver; TE/LS Kendall Gammon; LB Fred Jones.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Marc Boerigter; LB Scott Fujita; S Shaunard Harts; FB Omar Easy.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: Currently unavailable.
PLAYERS LOST: DE Vonnie Holliday.
PLAYERS SIGNED: None


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