On The Lookout For Future Chiefs

As April's NFL Draft drew to a close, Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said he wasn't done tinkering with his roster.

"As this ends today were not done improving this football team," he told the media. "There is going to be a lot of things that happen with other teams and with other people. There are going to be a lot of other opportunities. There are some people out there who are going to be free agents. It gets to about two weeks before the draft and some of the veteran free agents want to stop and settle down and see what teams are going to draft and see where they think their opportunities are the best."

It's been five weeks since that press conference. But as the Chiefs have only made one addition to their roster in that span – free agent center Eric Ghiaciuc – some fans are wondering where the improvements Pioli spoke of might be coming from.

We might be able to figure that out via Adam Caplan's recently updated list of the best remaining NFL free agents. Focusing on four specific areas of need – wide receiver, right tackle, nose tackle, and pass rushers – we'll take a look at some of the names on the list.

Any player still unsigned at this point is either going to be a veteran north of 30, someone dealing with injury issues, or a combination of the two. But there might be some players who could still help the Chiefs.


WIDE RECEIVER

Without question, the gem of the remaining free agent receiver crop is former Giants star Plaxico Burress. Unfortunately, his availability for the 2009 season remains in question due to both criminal charges stemming from his self-inflicted gunshot wound and the possibility of more punishment from the NFL for that same incident.

In a best-case scenario where Burress' legal issues disappeared and he was slapped on the wrist with minimal discipline from the league, the chances of the Chiefs taking a chance on him still seem slim. His on-field talent is unquestioned, but Burress was well-known as a locker room headache in New York – hardly the type of player Pioli and Todd Haley favor. The Giants even suspended Burress for a game last season prior to the shooting.

But Pioli had a good seat when Burress caught the game-winning touchdown that allowed the Giants to upset the Patriots in the 2007 Super Bowl. New England was willing to take a chance on players with bad reputations from time to time, but we've yet to see how Pioli will bring that approach to Kansas City.

Matt Jones, another player with legal issues, is also available. He had the most productive season of his career in 2008, catching 65 passes for 761 yards in just 12 games.

It was recently announced that Jones, who was suspended last season due to his arrest on drug charges, won't face further action from the league after an arrest for violation of his probation in May. But the fact he still remains unsigned suggests that teams are being cautious.

Marvin Harrison, Koren Robinson, and Dante Hall are among the remaining free agents. But the leading choice might be Marty Booker, a former Bears receiver who worked closely with Haley in Chicago and worked out for the Chiefs during their first set of offseason practices. Two other players who participated in the workout -- tight ends Sean Ryan and Tony Curtis – have both been signed.


RIGHT TACKLE

Former Bengals lineman Levi Jones is still available after being released in May. But Jones has primarily been a left tackle throughout his career, and making the adjustment to the right side isn't always easy – just ask Damion McIntosh.

Drafted in the seventh round of the 2000 draft, Mark Tauscher has started at right tackle for the Packers since the third week of his rookie year. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL near the end of last season and may not be ready to play until well after the season begins.


The Chiefs could use Jon Runyan.
Jim McIsaac - Getty

Kwame Harris was cut by the Raiders this offseason, just one year after they signed him as part of their big 2008 free-agent spending spree. But unlike many of the players they added last year, Harris didn't receive a terribly large contract – $16 million over three years – and was cut for performance reasons as much as anything.

George Foster, a former first-round pick of the Broncos, is available after the Lions recently cut him to sign Jon Jansen. Foster was sent to Detroit a few years ago in the trade that made Dre Bly a Bronco.

If the Chiefs are actually looking for someone to replace McIntosh, former Pro Bowler Jon Runyan might be someone in their sights. The longtime Eagles right tackle is on the mend from offseason knee surgery, and with the Eagles having addressed both tackle positions, Runyan's days in Philadelphia may be over. He'll be 36 years old in November, but if he's medically cleared before training camp, Runyan could be a solid stop-gap for a season or two.


DEFENSIVE TACKLE

The list of potential nose tackles is almost non-existent. Dewayne Robertson, most recently with the Broncos, played in a 3-4 defense when Eric Mangini coached the Jets. But he was traded to Denver because he's not a fit for the scheme.

Likewise, La'Roi Glover has some minimal experience in a 3-4, but was cut by Dallas when the Cowboys changed schemes because Bill Parcells wanted a larger nose tackle.

At 335 pounds, former Philadelphia and New Orleans tackle Hollis Thomas has the size to plug the middle. But the long-time veteran has been battling injuries and took on a backup role last year with the Saints. Still, if healthy he could add depth to the tackle rotation, and might be worth a roster spot just for his goofy NFL Films footage.


DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

In terms of boosting KC's pass rush, the two biggest names still technically on the market are Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and Carolina's Julius Peppers. But as both players were given the franchise tag by their respective teams, the Chiefs would have to dole out quite a bit in compensation.

In terms of actual free agents, the available options aren't as exciting.

Greg Ellis, who was released from the Cowboys mere days ago, is so new to the free agent market that he's not actually on the Scout.com list. But he's available and appears to be, by far, the most appealing option for a team in need of a pass-rushing presence.

Ex-Chief Vonnie Holliday is a free agent again after parting ways with the Miami Dolphins. Having played at both defensive end and defensive tackle, and in both a 4-3 and a 3-4, Holliday's versatility along the defensive line could make him a solid rotational player.

Travis LaBoy signed with Arizona last year and played in the hybrid defense the Chiefs are expected to use. The Cardinals made the surprising decision to cut him in late April, but that decision was apparently due to his need for ankle surgery that may sideline him for the 2009 season.

It was widely assumed that former New England Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest was going to retire, but he said during a chat with NFL.com in April that he was open to coming back with the right team. It seems unlikely the 2-14 Chiefs would be that team, but coming to Kansas City would give McGinest a chance to reunite with Pioli and Mike Vrabel.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories