Chiefs Slant: 2005 FA Class Needs to Make Impact

Past performances suggest the Chiefs may not be real effective in their offseason bid to improve the NFL's 31st-ranked defenses to the point that it won't hinder the effort of the league's No. 1 offense.

Kansas City's last venture into the defensive free agent market came in 2003 when they signed three defensive veterans -- DE Vonnie Holliday, LB Shawn Barber and DB Dexter McCleon.

Holliday's release last week after two largely unproductive seasons -- he had only 5.5 sacks in that time, with three of them coming in the first game of his first season with the Chiefs -- was the team's first acknowledgement of that failed effort.

Holliday never was a factor after that three-sack game against San Diego in the '03 opener. Last season the seven-year vet, the 19th player taken (by Green Bay) in the 1998 draft, played in only nine games (three as a starter) and made but 13 tackles. Injuries and the development of promising rookie DE Jared Allen cost him playing time and eventually his job.

McCleon was a similar disappointment in his second season as a starting cornerback. After a strong '03 campaign in which tied for the team lead with six interceptions, McCleon was burned so frequently in '04 that he was mercifully given some time off -- ostensibly because of a shoulder injury. He'll turn 32 in October, but whether he's a Chief then will likely be determined by what KC lands in free agency.

Barber played passably until a knee injury knocked him out for the second half of the '04 campaign. Still, he wasn't the difference maker the Chiefs hoped they were getting when they signed him off Philadelphia's imposing defense, and his slow recovery from his knee injury is expected to keep him sidelined through the opening weeks in '05.

Chiefs NFL Europe Notes:
he Chiefs will have an allotment of 13 players participating in NFL Europe this year. Kansas City players and their assignments overseas: 13 FB Joe Hall, WR Jeris McIntyre, S Chazz Moore and DE Demetrios Walker to the Rhein Fire; WR John Booth, S Scott Connot and RB McKenzi Smith to the Amsterdam Admirals; S Eddie Canonico and QB Casey Clausen to the Cologne Centurions; G Aaron Johnson and G Matt Miller to the Frankfurt Galaxy; LB Rich Scanlon to the Berlin Thunder and S Eric Crouch to the Hamburg Sea Devils.

"It will be hard to go back to Kansas City and resume my life after seeing the way people live here in Sri Lanka. I came over here for just a week to help out, but for these people this is their life, every day. They can't escape it with a plane ride like I can. I think it will be harder to listen to people complain after I get back. Here in Sri Lanka, I've seen people who have legitimate reasons to complain, but don't. It makes some of our problems seem a lot less significant." --Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson, after a five-day trip to Sri Lanka as part of the tsunami relief effort. Top Stories