With Battle Out Will Chiefs Sign Law?

When news surfaced on Saturday afternoon that cornerback Julian Battle might have ruptured his Achilles heal, the buzz around Arrowhead turned to free agent cornerback Ty Law. On Sunday the Chiefs confirmed that Battle would be lost for the season and now the question remains will Kansas City elevate their pursuit of one of the games premier cornerbacks.

Last week in OTA's cornerback Eric Warfield was moved to the second team; not because of this eroding talent but more likely because of his pending NFL suspension. Warfield who has yet to hear from the league is facing anywhere from a two or four game suspension but the longer the league takes to decide could mean the punishment might be even longer.

Not wanting to start the 2005 season with a player who's unable to be on the field; the Chiefs promoted third year cornerback Julian Battle to the first team defense. Though Battle struggled early in the teams OTA's, he was starting to play better this past week. He was starting to get familiar with the defensive schemes and he was showing flashes that made the decision to draft him three years ago a wiser choice.

However in a fleeting second on Saturday afternoon at the Chiefs Mini-Camp; Battle fell to the Arrowhead turf and was lost for the season. Kansas City Head Coach Dick Vermeil told the media after Sunday's last team workout until training camp that Battle would undergo surgery to repair the rupture and he was indeed lost for the year.

Now Kansas City must once again rely on back-up Dexter McCleon as one of the two starters on this football team. That's a proposition that has many fans and probably some of the coaching staff concerned. In Kansas City, we've seen two versions of McCleon. In 2003, he was the star of the defense in the first half of the season and he ended up with six interceptions. But in the second half of the season and throughout the entire 2004 season; he was routinely torched by below average NFL receivers and thus lost his starting job.

McCleon was brought over from St. Louis with a reputation of being a solid nickel back that had decent cover skills. But it's clear that his lack of size does not make him an ideal candidate to be a starting NFL cornerback. Granted some shorter than McCleon have been successful, but with the addition of Patrick Surtain; teams will try and exploit the side of the field that McCleon is patrolling. That's going to put even more pressure on the Chiefs defense and that's something that could spell some impending trouble for Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.

But Vermeil who remains loyal to his former players will give McCleon every chance to compete for a starting spot. "Dexter McCleon will be healthy and ready to go. Benny Sapp. We've got some other kids who are doing a good job. All that will be better evaluated and determined once we get into training camp," Vermeil said.

Still the Chiefs have some talent in the defensive secondary but it's young and raw to say the least. Fifth round draft choice Alphonso Hodge has been above average in OTA's. He is gifted with amazing speed and his best skill is covering wide receivers one on one in bump and run coverage. He is solid with his footwork and will be a solid nickel back for the team this year. But I'm not sure he can line up against some of the games best receivers as a starter.

Another hot name and one we've been touting since the Chiefs signed him as an unrestricted free agent is rookie Justin Perkins. He's already moved to second team ahead of Hodge and his reputation as a playmaker at Connecticut had many in the organization scratching their heads as to why he was not drafted by another NFL team last April. He reminds me of former Chiefs great James Hasty. He has speed, a nose for the football and an instinct to make plays. He could eventually end up as a starter for this team. But that might not be for another year or two.

So that beckons the question. Will Kansas City go after Ty Law? The answer is unequivocally yes! After the injury on Saturday, I spoke with a Chiefs official who confirmed what we already knew that Kansas City has stayed in constant communication with Ty Law's camp of agents and they remain one of the handful of teams that would like to sign him for the 2005 season.

With so much emphasis on upgrading the defense this off-season, it's doubtful that Kansas City would go into the regular season or training camp for that matter with any question marks on the defensive side of the ball. With the exception of middle linebacker, this team, is set at every other starting position both offensively and defensively That was until the injury to Battle. Now the cornerback spot has major questions marks with the loss of Battle and Warfield.

Ty Law has already spurned an offer from his hometown team the Miami Dolphins. The Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts join the Chiefs in the pursuit to land the experience Super Bowl cornerback.

But Law who is recovering from surgery, still has not been able to run at full speed. He's moving much better according to reports in Miami but he won't be 100% until sometime in August if then. The problem facing Law is that he'll have to choose which NFL team he wants to play for in 2005. His agents, the infamous Poston Brothers, have unsuccessfully tried to convince any of his suitors that their client is worth a big-time contract. Each NFL team has balked and all of them have made it clear that they won't offer him a long term deal this season.

That means Law must decide to take the riches he earned in New England and play for the love of the game for at least one NFL season where he can show teams that he's back to his Pro-Bowl form. If he can do that, than he'll have the Brinks trucks lining up outside of his Miami home next March.

Law reminds me of a poor man's Deion Sanders. Whoever gets him this season will be renting a valuable commodity; one that could mean the difference between making a splash in the post season or falling short of the teams season long goals. For the Chiefs anything but a Super Bowl would make the 2005 season a bust. With so many aging veterans along the offensive line and the infusion of some real football players on defense in the off-season, the expectations for this team are at an all time high not only with the fans but quietly and giddily within the organization.

With that said, Kansas City probably will intensify talks with Law and if indeed they are forced to pony up more cash to lure him to the Chiefs, then based on their track record this off-season; I see little reason they won't do just that.

Everyone in the media has over-analyzed the Chiefs upcoming season and if this team can start the season at 2-2 or better; they'll have a legitimate shot to win the division based on their remaining 12 games of the season. If that happens then they'll return to the post-season and have a shot at getting to Detroit in February. Those are reasons enough for the Chiefs to sign Ty Law.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories