Risk or Reward for Ty Law and Chiefs?

If there is one free agent cornerback who could turn around the Chiefs defense, it's without a doubt Ty Law. Granted the former New England Patriot All-Pro is recovering from season ending foot surgery; the Chiefs remain one team that is very interested in his services for next season. Law could be the missing piece that turns the Chiefs shaky defenses of years past into one that can advance this team into the post season.

Let's give the Kansas City Chiefs credit for signing both Kendrell Bell and safety Sammy Knight. These additions have already made the Chiefs a far better defense than the one that ended the 2004 season at the bottom of the rankings.

But the last piece of the Chiefs off-season puzzle is the most difficult to attain. They must find a shut down cornerback to play opposite Eric Warfield. The Chiefs fortunes in 2005 on the defensive side of the ball might hinge on the surgically repaired foot of Law. As soon as he arrived on Monday afternoon to meet with Chiefs officials; reporters starting circling the wagons asking if the Chiefs would indeed make him an offer.

The Chiefs have stuck to their guns this off-season and formulated a solid plan. Outside of losing out on Samari Rolle; who really didn't want to play for the Chiefs, Kansas City has added two hard hitting defenders. Both Bell and Knight are leaders in the clubhouse and they have the ability to make plays on the field. That's why the Chiefs are interested in signing Ty Law. He can make plays and he's been a part of three Super Bowl winning teams.

In the off-season, I spoke with a Chiefs official who told me we just need some new leadership on defense. Bell, Knight and Law would accomplish that in short order. Granted Chiefs CEO/President/GM Carl Peterson made a statement to their intentions of signing Law, he must seriously conclude the risk factor in making him an offer prior to his availability to get back on the field.

"I can tell you right now without even talking to our doctor that Ty Law couldn't pass a physical right now in the National Football League,'' Peterson said. "That's a very important aspect we have to look at."

Peterson held his ground firmly with the local press about his intention to offer Ty Law a contract during his visit to Kansas City.

"I would not offer him a contract today based on where he is. That would be foolish of anyone. In all probability, what we would like to do is bring him back in a little bit later in free-agency and see what kind of progress he's making,'' said Peterson.

Now one can read that one of two ways. One that's just part of Peterson's negotiating style or second that he's trying to fend off other teams from making offers to Law. The battle for free agents is nor more deceptive than those played on Sundays when the games count.

But Peterson knows all too well this is a business. And granted the public sentiment is to spend Lamar Hunt's money; he still has a frugal responsibility to the bottom line of the owner and to the league mandated salary cap.

However, the Chiefs took notice when attendance fell at the end of the 2004 season. When empty seats littered Arrowhead the last four home games of last years 7-9 debacle. The fan base is on edge and waiting to explode if the Chiefs don't make a complete splash in free agency this off-season.

The Chiefs goal since Peterson arrived has been the Super Bowl. Well we all know that goal has yet to be tasted by the fans of Kansas City. Without a Super Bowl ring in his tenure, the conservative and tough negotiator might have to put up a little faith and take a risk at signing Law before he's recovered from his injury.

But it takes two sides to get a deal done and in the event the two parties actually start talking money, the Chiefs have the creativity to protect themselves financially and satisfy the demands by Law and his agent.

Kansas City could offer Law the league minimum this year and then offer enough incentives that he could earn the dollars he wants in 2006 and 2007. He'll still get a signing bonus reflective of his talents but the Chiefs would only be on the hook for the lowest amount in 2005 if he fails to get back on the field this fall.

If Kansas City can get anything out Law this season by paying him the league minimum, they'd be better off counting on that then counting on William Bartee, Dexter McCleon or Julian Batter to step up and make plays in 2005.

Law is a veteran and he knows what he has to be done to get on the field in September. He doesn't need the benefit of a training camp or playing in any exhibition games. He's a player and one who most notably has the maturity to do what it takes to earn his paycheck. Some of the Chiefs veterans who signed big contracts a year ago; could not live up to those standards.

That's why Law is so important to the Chiefs to sign before he gets out of town. They need him ore than Law needs the Chiefs. But if he was not interested in signing with the Chiefs, he would not have come to Kansas City to meet with officials, doctors and coaches.

But Kansas City won't get him for nothing. Law is represented by Carl Poston who from all accounts has a good relationship with Peterson. That's a big plus. As soon as Law was released at the NFL Combines, he and Peterson talked about Law and his progress from foot surgery. Both sides agreed the timing wasn't right but Poston told the Chiefs as soon as he's more mobile; he'd like to visit the Chiefs. Both sides held true to their words and that's why Law came to Kansas City.

The Chiefs aren't the only bidders for Law. He's already met with the Steelers and expects to talk with the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets after leaving Kansas City. That is of course, if he leaves Kansas City without a contract in hand.

Peterson has to juggle many balls and as one Chiefs official told me this morning, "we're talking about millions of dollars," as it pertains to Law and any othe free agent that might visit Kansas City.

Snap judgments won't be made today or tomorrow. However a leap of faith could result in straying from the norm. Chiefs Head Coach, who is showing a renewed passion for coaching, plans on spending significant time with Ty Law while he's in Kansas City.

At the end of the day, Law has to decide if he wants to play for Vermeil and the Chiefs. I think he does or he wouldn't have talked about coming to the Chiefs minutes after his release last month. That means Peterson and Vermeil must decide if they can afford to wait another two weeks or a month for Law's foot to pass a team physical.

The longer this deal takes and the more progress Law makes on that injured foot, could mean it will be harder for he and the Chiefs to get a deal done. Kansas City is not known for getting into bidding wars with free agents.

But this off-season they've been aggressive and have actually outbid several teams for some of the tier one free agents. Rolle, Jeremiah Trotter and Ed Hartwell; who's still waiting to sign with a team; were offered more money to sign with Kansas City. For that matter so was Bell and Knight only had one destination in mind and that was the Chiefs because the money was what he was looking to earn for his service.

Law is expected to leave on Tuesday and how he leaves town could determine the difference between the Chiefs having a Top 20 defense or one that can climb into the Top 10. If that happens, then they can start talking about Motown in 2006.


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