Talks remain good between agents for cornerback Samari Rolle to become a Kansas City Chief within the next 24-36 hours. Both sides appeared to have a deal close last night and from what our sources tell our Scout.com NFL staff, the two sides are "very close" to getting this deal done.
The basics of the contract are in place in regards to signing bonus; reportedly $13.5 million and years, Rolle has no other visits working or pending. He wants to have this deal done by today so he can move forward to settling things with his family. We can tell you that his wife was house hunting last week and that generally means that things went so well with his visit and extended stay in Kansas City; that a deal is looming.
Despite published reports to the contrary and this is fact as best we could find out, the Washington Redskins will not be players for Rolle. First they are still dining cornerback Fred Smoot and hoping he'll accept their $10 million offer to sign. They will solve their dilemma at cornerback in the NFL Draft or settle on a pair of second tier free agent corners. They do not want to spend that kind of money that Rolle is demanding at cornerback. They have more pressing needs on this football team as they don't have the expectations to be winners like the Chiefs have on them now.
Ed Hartwell had what was called a nice visit with the Arizona Cardinals. But even though reports were circulating that the NFC West team was going to make him an offer, team owner Bill Bidwell won't give into his demands for a $11 million signing bonus. Listen if he would not extend a new deal for Buffalo Bills running back Travis Henry when he was shipping out a huge contract on offensive tackle LJ Shelton who was going to be traded to Buffalo in exchange for Henry; he's not going to pay Hartwell that much coin.
According to our source, the Chiefs are the likely destination for Hartwell unless a surprise bidder makes a run at Hartwell. Bottom line is that not many teams are going to pay him that bonus and the Chiefs have upped their offer from an $8 million signing bonus to $9 million and they might go a little higher to seal the deal. The Chiefs are wise not to overpay for Hartwell despite the fact they need him so desperately on this defense.
Regardless the Chiefs have not let him out of their sites and he's yet to set up another visit from what we've been told. We know the Redskins and Bengals had shown interest but most good teams with cap room have spent it already and the ones like the Cardinals who have it; can't get anyone signed. They are rumored to be closing in on a deal for Seahawks defensive end Chike Okeafor because he's more in their price range. Considering the Broncos who had him in on Thursday passed and shoved him out of town, Arizona might be the only bidder.
The Chiefs did offer a contract to fee agent linebacker Kendrell Bell. They are using, as they should, the injury card because when healthy Bell is one of the Top Five linebackers in the NFL. When he's heart, well you can do the math! The Chiefs would like to secure him for about $6-7 million in bonus money and would like to work out roughly the same deal that the New York Giants did with Antonio Pearce. The Giants signed him for six years at $25 million. They only gave him a $6.5 signing bonus and only about $1.5 million counts against the 2005 cap. Bell to date has only received lukewarm interest from the Giants but he flunked his physical. The Chiefs are not as concerned but still the contract has to be right for them to get a deal done with Bell.
Cornerback Dwight Smith visited the New Orleans Saints and only a fool would go to New Orleans to play for Jim Haslett. Still they are offering more money than the Chiefs for the veteran cornerback. The Chiefs and Smith's agents remain about $2 million apart in signing bonus money. But like Hartwell, Smith has to decide if he wants to go to a pretender or an also-ran. I like Smith because he can play safety as well and he'd bring versatility into the Chiefs defensive backfield that they don't have right now. The Chiefs are still scheduled to meet with Dolphins safety Sammy Knight on Monday so that remains another option for Kansas City.
One player on the offensive side of the ball to keep an eye on is wide receivers Ike Hilliard who was cut by the New York Giants. I'd say if the Chiefs were going to add a veteran wide receiver they'd be smart to get someone in the fold like Hilliard. I would like the Chiefs to go after the Ravens Travis Taylor who could become a star in the right offense. This kid just needs good coaching and not many do it better than offensive coordinator Al Saunders and wide receivers coach Charlie Joiner of the Chiefs.
Stay tuned to Warpaint Illustrated as we're staying on top of things throughout the day.