Chiefs 2010 Free Agent Grades

Now that the free agency frenzy has slowed down, Kansas City Chiefs fans can take a deep breath and reminisce on how the first couple weeks of the new NFL year has taken shape. Although they were relatively quiet for the first few days of free agency, the Chiefs have seemed to come up with a couple of big wins, and are primed to continue their strong offseason.

At first, Chiefs fans prayed for Clark Hunt to open up his checkbook so that the team could land a big name player. Instead, the Chiefs have landed big name players, but have remained frugal with their spending. According to Pro Football Talk, if the salary cap were still in place for 2010, the Chiefs' salary cap figures were the lowest of all teams in the NFL. From March 5 (when free agency began) to March 14, the Chiefs stood at only $79 million. Compare that to the Dallas Cowboys, who did not sign, lose, or keep any free agents, yet topped the league with $153 million in salary cap. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears surpassed the Chiefs' salary cap within the first day of free agency by signing Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor, and Brandon Manumaleuna.

So how has free agency fared so far?

As far as the big names are concerned, it's been impressive, while the others are rather mediocre. Meanwhile, the Chiefs' own free agents such as Brodie Croyle, Derrick Johnson, and Jarrad Page are still up for grabs. In the meantime, Let's take a nostalgic look back on the past couple weeks for the Chiefs.

Thomas Jones:
Grade A

There's no doubt that the biggest name to top the list of acquisitions is former New York Jets running back Thomas Jones. To me, his signing came as a shock, considering most felt that he'd re-sign with his former team shortly after his release. Instead, he joined the Chiefs' backfield and will serve as Jamaal Charles' powerful backup. I don't think Chiefs fans have seen a free agency pickup like this since Ty Law joined the team in 2006. Let's hope the comparisons end there. Once Law put on a Chiefs uniform, he never played at a Pro Bowl level.

Let's hope Jones new colors have better results. Jones rushed behind one of the best offensive lines the past couple years in New York, and we can only hope he holds onto this excellent grade now that he's working with the Chiefs revamped offensive line. His two-year contract cost the Chiefs roughly $5 million so its a worthy investment considering that he;s coming off two of the best years of his career. He'll hold onto his ‘A' if he proves to be beneficial to Jamaal Charles and the rest of the Chiefs offense.

Chris Chambers:
Grade: A

In free agency periods, more attention is given to the players who are looking for new teams rather than giving a new contract for an existing player to stay in the same place. That was the case with Wide Receiver Chris Chambers, whom served as the Chiefs' biggest offensive weapon in 2009. He could have very well signed with another team like the Cincinnati Bengals, but Chambers chose to stick with the Chiefs after some convincing by his coaches. Chambers said that the addition of Charlie Weis as the teams new offensive coordinator, helped make his decision to continue his career as a Chief.

After reviving his career in Kansas City after his sudden departure in San Diego, he should remain Matt Cassel's favorite target for the foreseeable future. Chambers' three-year, $15 million contract barely took a bite from the Chiefs' bank account, but his play will be worth every penny. If his play in 2009 serves as any indication, he should stand on top of his class with an ‘A'.

Honorable Mention – Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel
Grade: B

I know, I know. You're thinking that coaches don't really count as free agency pickups, especially since these two were out of the NFL in 2009. However, as I said before, these new coaches have breathed new life into the Chiefs. In years past, the team has struggled to grab attention from big free agents, mainly because of their losing record, but also their lack of proven coaches. We know that Chris Chambers admitted his interest to come back to Kansas City due to the new coaches, and I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas Jones would admit to the same thing. They don't get a stellar grade because we can't be surely convinced that Weis and Crennel will have the same success as they did with players like Tom Brady and Richard Seymour, but we'll have to wait and see. As for contracts, Weis and Crennel are great options for insurance if Todd Haley were to see the door, so they'll get a ‘B' for backup, if you will.

Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann
Grade: C

Two years removed from the last time he tested free agency, Lilja chose to come back home to Kansas City. In those same two years, Casey Wiegmann had been in Denver and chose to come back as well. Both players have question marks due to injuries and age, but are improvements to a horrific offensive line. Lilja was put on the waiver wire in 2004 but was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts and effectively protected Peyton Manning for the past six years. He shouldn't leapfrog Brian Waters out of the left guard spot, but will be a welcome addition to a broken offensive line as the teams starting right guard.

Wiegmann, on the other hand will enjoy his eighth season in Kansas City, but first under a completely new regime. He's only two years removed from the Pro Bowl, and the Chiefs hope he has a little gas left in the tank. Both Lilja and Wiegmann don't get good grades because I don't know if they're going to be the same players as they were years ago. When they bring their ‘A'-games, we know how well they can benefit the backfield, but I'm still going to stick with a ‘C' for now. It's just to be safe. After all, these aren't final grades, but rather just midterms.

Terrence Copper, Jackie Battle, Shaun Smith and Jerheme Urban
Grade: Incomplete

We don't hear much from these players, but rather serve well as depth and special teamers. Apparently, all four are on Todd Haley's good side and have stuck around long enough to be the "right players" that the administration is looking for. They've previously been on a team with Haley as a coach, but only Battle has stuck around in Kansas City the longest. Copper and Battle return to the Chiefs, while Smith and Urban join the team after playing musical chairs with several teams in the past few years.

Until the day we hear more about these guys on the starting lineup or spot them in game highlights, they'll stick with an incomplete grade. They're like the students who don't show up to class very often, but still have time to turn things around.
It's too early to give out any failing grades. In a year where Chiefs fans should be fully optimistic about a turn around season, I don't want to burst anybody's bubble just yet. We can only hope now that the Chiefs will keep on signing some of their own free agents like Safety Jarrad Page and Linebacker Derrick Johnson.

There's still plenty of time to make more moves, let's just hope the momentum keeps up, especially in the slow period leading up to the NFL Draft.

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