In the attempt to fill that cornerback spot, the Chiefs squandered the opportunity to sign Samari Rolle, ignored Ken Lucas and Anthony Henry and were beaten to the punch by Minnesota for the services of Fred Smoot. At this point, the Chiefs are left with 2 viable options if they are to call the off season a total success: sign unrestricted free agent Ty Law or trade for Miami's Patrick Surtain.
On the eve of Law's visit to Kansas City, the question before the Chiefs and their fans is "Which Pro-Bowl cornerback is the right piece?"
To properly make that analysis the Chiefs must look at many factors, including talent, presence, leadership, health, salary cap, availability, age and team chemistry.
An argument can be made that talent and salary cap are approximately equal for both players. Both players have been to the Pro-Bowl and both are considered elite cornerbacks. The market for a top tier CB has been set in this off season, and both will likely want the same type of contract (including a double digit signing bonus).
Ty Law brings a presence and leadership that is very difficult to acquire in today's NFL. Teams just don't part with those types of players. The Ravens will likely never part with Ray Lewis. The Packers would never let go of Brett Favre; the same goes with the Colts and Peyton Manning.
Ty Law's performance in the 2003 playoffs put him in that category. When you thought of the Patriots' defense after that playoff run, you thought of Ty Law first. When he steps on the field, the attitude of the entire defense changes. He's a leader, not just of defensive backs, but of a team's entire defense. Surtain has presence as well, but it's not as strong.
Law's availability also gives him an edge since he is an unrestricted free agent, while Surtain would require a trade. Miami is reportedly requiring a 2nd round pick. For a team like the Chiefs, who have multiple holes to fill, giving up a top 50 pick is a very difficult decision to make.
However, Patrick Surtain makes a very strong case based upon health, age and team chemistry. While Surtain has had a concerning knee injury , he could line up and play today. That can't be said of Law and his foot injury; if the reports are true, no one is exactly sure when Law may see the field. August 1st has been thrown around and that would get him on the field in time for the season, but he would miss all of training camp.
That leads to the chemistry factor. Surtain has the advantage on two fronts. First he'd be available for all of the on the field sessions in April and May and training camp. Second, Sammy Knight looks to be the starting strong safety come September. Since Surtain and Knight have played together for the last 2 years, half of the defensive backfield would come to the first practice already in tune with each other if the Chiefs acquire Surtain. Those 2 would also be the unquestioned leaders of the secondary. That's a huge advantage when changing the mindset of the defensive doormats of the NFL.
Finally, Surtain is 2 years younger than Law. Since both will likely get long-term contracts (at least 5 years), age is a major consideration. It is a logical assumption that Surtain will play at a high level for a year or two longer than Law.
Looking at all of the factors, it seems that Surtain is the better option for the Kansas City Chiefs at this point. Health, age and chemistry outweigh the leadership and presence factor, given the additions of Kendrell Bell and Knight. It becomes a no brainer if they can acquire him for something less than a 2nd, perhaps a 4th and 6th this year and a conditional 4th (escalating to a 3rd) next year.
If the final cost is a 2nd round pick, then the ramifications of making the trade means either the Chiefs trade down in the 1st round to pick up an extra first day pick or sign a WR or another CB in free agency. Either way, Surtain appears to be the best choice for the Chiefs.