Chiefs have good reason to avoid free agents

Bummed that the Chiefs haven't made any big splashes in free agency? Disappointed they didn't lift a finger in pursuit of players like wide receiver Bernard Berrian, guard Alan Faneca and cornerback Asante Samuel? Ready to sell your season tickets?

In the words of Herm Edwards, get over it.

According to a league source, the Chiefs currently have more cap room than any other NFL team, so frustration from the fans is understandable. But KC's lack of action in free agency is hardly unexpected.

All you have to do is drive by the Truman Sports Complex, and you'll soon realize why the Chiefs' front office showed almost no interest whatsoever in this year's crop of premium free agents.

Renovating Arrowhead Stadium is not proving to be cheap for the family that brought the NFL to Kansas City. Yes, Jackson County taxpayers have done their part, but Clark Hunt and family are also on the hook for upwards of $150 million.

It's unrealistic to expect the Chiefs to go out and throw large signing bonuses around when the most expensive part of the franchise is getting a facelift. Throwing all your financial eggs into the basket of one offseason simply isn't smart business.

Consider the example set in Green Bay. While Lambeau Field began renovations in 2001, the Packers signed exactly zero free agents of note that offseason. The only starter who arrived from free agency was defensive tackle Jim Flanigan. I don't have the numbers on the contract he signed at the time, but I'm guessing it didn't break any records.

Don't get me wrong – I'm not calling Hunt or the Chiefs cheap. There's a difference between being cheap (see the 2004 Chiefs offseason) and spending your money wisely.

What purpose would blowing over $100 million on free agents – see the Oakland Raiders or New York Jets – serve for next year's Chiefs? This was a 4-12 team in 2007. No amount of money spent in one offseason is capable of landing them in next season's championship game. Vegas recently acknowledged this fact, casting the Chiefs as 100 to 1 odds to win Super Bowl XLIII.


DeMorrio Williams - Cheap? Yes. Flashy? No.
Scott Halleran - Getty

Spending the kind of cash Raiders' owner Al Davis has been handing out since free agency began (hey, you can't take it with you, Al) assures only one thing - placation of a fan base. We've seen that song and dance before. The Tennessee Titans flexed some public-relations muscle a few days ago when they signed defensive end Jevon Kearse.

Sure, Kearse was cheap, and he's washed up as a player. Don't tell that to Tennessee fans. As soon as The Freak signed on the dotted line and returned to the team that drafted him, Titans message boards across the internet lit up in excitement. Few cared that the team had dumped a promising young player (Antwan Odom) in favor of an oft-injured veteran.

Now imagine the Chiefs doing the same with quarterback Trent Green, who signed with the St. Louis Rams last week. The notion that Green could have rejoined the Chiefs is far-fetched considering the nature of his departure last offseason, but stranger things have happened (Gunther Cunningham's return, for example).

Nobody has developed any sort of attachment to Brodie Croyle just yet. If Green had returned to Kansas City, thousands of Chiefs fans would have been overjoyed. Likely, KC sports radio would have been filled with people expressing playoff hopes.

You want to sell tickets and give a fan base hope? Dump tons of money on free agents, or sign some veterans with "name recognition," and worry about the consequences later.

Not the 2008 Chiefs. They're following Herm Edwards' plan almost perfectly (with an unfortunate whiff at kicker Josh Brown). Look at the three players the team has signed so far – Oliver Hoyte, DeMorrio Williams, Devard Darling.

All are coming off short stints with their first team. All are 27 or younger. None of them inspire hope the way premium-talent players like Berrian, Faneca and Samuel might, but optimism in March is overrated when your starting quarterback has six career touchdown passes.

To be perfectly honest, though, the Chiefs should feel fortunate to sign anyone right now. Who can really blame Clark Hunt for spending a little more money on Arrowhead and a little less on free agents considering his football team has gone nowhere recently?

The Chiefs acquired a boatload of veterans in 2006 (Ty Law, Ron Edwards, James Reed, Michael Bennett, Chris Terry, Kyle Turley, Lenny Walls) and almost as many in 2007 (Alfonso Boone, Eddie Drummond, Donnie Edwards, Napoleon Harris, Damion McIntosh). The result was 13 wins in 32 games. Does that seem like a wise investment to you?

Hunt might be better served to let his front office and coaching staff prove they can build a team through the draft before handing over money to big-time free agents. And in the meantime, Jared Allen is waiting to eat up some of that cap space. Now there's money well spent.

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