A Look At Chiefs Free Agents … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

More than likely weeks ago the powers in charge with the Chiefs made their decisions on the free agents-to-be in their locker room, whether to re-sign or allow them to depart.

A full-season provided plenty of evidence for everyone in the building to evaluate which players can continue to contribute. That 4-12 record tells us that many of those players weren’t good enough and more talented replacements must be found.

But as we covered on Tuesday, the pool of unrestricted free agents is very shallow this year as fourth and fifth-year players have been shoved back to the restricted free agent list. For the most part RFAs require draft choice compensation to sign, so that will drastically cut transactions.

Some teams in the league have many free agents, like Baltimore with 27 unrestricted-restricted players. Others have only a handful, like Miami with seven and Jacksonville with eight free agents.

The Chiefs have 18 players on the list of free agents released by the NFL Players Association on the first of February. There could be additions by the start of free agency on March 5.

Here’s one man’s opinion on those 18 players and whether the Chiefs should let them move on, retain them, retain them only at the team’s price or wait and see how the free agent market rolls. The UFAs are listed with age in ‘10, seasons of experience in ‘10 and ‘09 base salary.)


SS Mike Brown (above) (32 years old, 11th season, $900,000) – As a stop gap, Brown was OK last year with the Chiefs at safety. He finished with 99 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions. Brown also had five tackles on special teams. But he’s not a long-term solution at the position and if he comes back to play in ‘10 for the Chiefs it’s just another season where the team isn’t preparing a younger player to hold the job. There should be better alternatives available, but with Brown the Chiefs should WAIT AND SEE.

WR Chris Chambers (right) (32 in August, 10th season, $4,550,000/ Chiefs paid approximately half) – Claiming him at mid-season was a big move for the Chiefs and he helped provide a solid target for Cassel in the passing game over the last half of the season. Chambers caught 36 passes for 608 yards and four touchdowns. At this point in his career, he’s a No. 2 or 3 receiver and if the Chiefs can sign him to that type of contract, then they should get that done as soon as possible. If he’s looking for contract numbers that equate with a No. 1 receiver, then they should pass. ONLY IF HE FITS.

WR Terrance Copper (28 in March, 7th season, $620,000) – Offensively, Copper never really got a chance to show anything; that’s what made his 50-yard catch and run against Denver in the last game so surprising. If that’s what he was capable of doing, then why wasn’t he used more often in offensive packages? Copper was one of the team’s best special teams players, coming up with 16 tackles in coverage. How much attention he’ll attract from other teams is questionable. The Chiefs should attempt to re-sign him, but ONLY IF HE FITS.

TE Sean Ryan (30 in March, 6th season, $620,000) – When the ‘09 season opened, Ryan was the starter at tight end. By mid-season, he was generally inactive on game day as he was supplanted by Leonard Pope. On the season, Ryan had 14 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns. LET HIM GO.

OL Wade Smith (29 in April, 8th season, $620,000) – Smith got extensive playing time because of the injury to RG Mike Goff that took him out for the second half of the season; Smith ended up starting nine games. A versatile guy who can play all along the line, Smith is a solid player that should be re-signed ONLY IF HE FITS.

OLB Mike Vrabel (35 in August, 14th season, $2,200,000) – This is a sticky decision for both parties. Vrabel was a solid player for the Chiefs defense last year, but there’s no question he’s near the end of his career. Would he be willing to play another year as anything but a starter? The Chiefs need to get Andy Studebaker on the field because of his physical ability. They need Vrabel’s leadership and smarts. Would Vrabel take less money and no starting job to get another year, to serve as a mentor for Studebaker? ONLY IF HE FITS.

WR Bobby Wade (29 next week, 9th season, $620,000) – Wade joined the Chiefs after game No. 1 and provided a jolt to the passing offense for several games. Then, he started disappearing. When the Chiefs had to make a decision on game-day inactive players, Wade was frequently left off the roster. He was one of the NFL leaders in dropped passes and he was not productive as a punt returner. LET HIM GO.


This just used to be the province of third-year players. With the passing of the salary cap, this group now includes players in their third, fourth and fifth seasons.

The Chiefs have until the beginning of free agency to make tender offers to their RFAs if they want to get compensation in return should another team sign them. The numbers vary for third, fourth and fifth-year players. Here’s how it breaks down with compensation:

Compensation 3 years 4 years 5 years
Right of first refusal 1,101,000 1,176,000 1,226,000
Original pick 1,101,000 1,176,000 1,226,000
Second-round 1,684,000 1,759,000 1,809,000
First-round 2,396,000 2,521,000 2,621,000
First and third-round 3,043,000 3,168,000 3,268,000

Obviously, the RFAs that the Chiefs want to keep will get tender offers on the high end, which should chase away most suitors. But that also commits the Chiefs to paying the player that offer if he signs the tender.

Here are the restricted free agents, with their age in the ‘10 season, their experience level counting the ‘10 season and their 2009 base salary.)

OL Andy Alleman (27 in November, 4th season, $460,000) – Alleman has been a tease for a number of teams during his short career: New Orleans, Miami and the Chiefs. Everyone likes what they see, but he never produces at a level to stay on the field to breakthrough and hold a starting spot. RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL TENDER/$1.101 million.

RB Jackie Battle (27 in October, 3rd season, $460,000) – He has looked good in two consecutive training camps, making the early season roster but then fading and ultimately getting injured. That doesn’t project too much interest from the Chiefs or other teams. NO TENDER OFFER.

QB Brodie Croyle (27, 5th season, $535,000) – The Chiefs would like to keep Croyle, but it will cost them. If they make an offer based on his original position in the draft, they must tender him at $1.176 million. It’s highly unlikely that another team is going to give up a third round pick for Croyle, but the presence of Chan Gailey in Buffalo and former Chiefs assistant Dick Curl in St. Louis may generate a market for his services. Both of those teams are in serious need of quarterback help. ORIGINAL PICK TENDER/$1.176 million.

QB Matt Gutierrez (26 in June, 4th season, $460,000) – Does a team tie itself to the tune of over $1.1 million for a third-team quarterback who hasn’t gotten the opportunity to play? Unlikely. NO TENDER OFFER.

LB Derrick Johnson (28 in November, 5th season, $2,250,000) – Johnson was the highest paid RFA on the Chiefs roster last year. From what we saw during the ‘09 season, D.J. didn’t fit into the K.C. plan. That might be different with new coordinator Romeo Crennel. On a roster devoid of playmakers, the Chiefs should hand Johnson a FIRST-ROUND TENDER OFFER/$2.521 million.

LB Corey Mays (27 in November, 5th season, $535,000) – Signed last year and projected as a specials teams force, Mays won a spot in the starting lineup and finished the year with 100 tackles. There’s also no question that the Chiefs need to improve on defense, and especially at inside linebacker. RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL TENDER/$1.176 million.

OL Ikechuku Ndukwe (28 in July, 4th season, $460,000) – Acquired in a pre-season trade with Miami, Ndukwe became the starter at right tackle for two games, until he was replaced by Ryan O’Callaghan. From that point on, Ndukwe barely got on the field. NO TENDER.

C Rudy Niswanger (28 in November, 5th season, $1,545,000) – As the team’s starting center, Niswanger has been an average player. But he brings intangibles to the team, like brains, work ethic and personality. There’s unlikely to be a lot of interest in Niswanger on the RFA-market but given the tender offer he received last year, I would give him a SECOND-ROUND TENDER/$1.759 million.

OT Ryan O’Callaghan (27 in July, 5th season, $460,000) – Claimed off the waiver wire from the Patriots, O’Callaghan became the starting right tackle once he got established. Although the line improved over the final half of the season – thanks to Jamaal Charles and his production – the play at tackle was not strong. Until they find someone better, they need to keep their rights to him. ORIGINAL PICK TENDER (5th-round)/$1.176 million.

FS Jarrad Page (26 in October, 5th season, $1,545,000) – Like Derrick Johnson, Page did not fit in with the Chiefs defense last year. His calf injury took him off the field only a few games before he would have lost his starting job. Again, a new coordinator may have a different view of him and given his first three seasons, there should be interest in Page if he hits the open market. Given his salary from last year, an SECOND-ROUND TENDER/$1.759 million would be enough. If Crennel doesn’t see him fitting in, then NO TENDER.

RB Kolby Smith (26 in December, 4th season, $460,000) – Given the injury situation that Smith has battled the last two seasons, it’s hard to believe there’s much of a market for his services. The Chiefs however, need another talented back to help Charles and that could be Smith, if he’s healthy. As a fifth-round pick, I’d slap an ORIGINAL PICK TENDER/$1.101 million on him to start, until I saw what else might be available. If the medical report on Smith is questionable, then NO TENDER.


Although the club has not yet made an official announcement, the Chiefs have hired Alan “Trip” MacCracken and named him director of football operations. That’s a fancy title for contract negotiator, salary cap coordinator and legal counsel.

The 35-year old MacCracken joined the expansion Cleveland Browns in their first season of business operation in 1999. That was just after he graduated from the Duke University of Law School. The Ohio native held the title of Director of Football Administration through the ‘09 NFL season, but the bulk of his duties were taken over by Dawn Aponte who came with new head coach Eric Mangini last year. He was listed as the team’s legal counsel.

MacCracken graduated from Hawken School in suburban Cleveland and Hamilton College in central New York. He worked as an intern with the Washington Redskins, while also serving an internship at the White House during his junior year of college. While in law school he served a summer internship at the NFL Management Council in New York.

In talking about negotiating contracts, MacCracken said several years ago that it was “navigating a fine line with people that I’m trying to please both inside and outside the organization. I think ultimately competition brings out the best in everyone. I enjoy the process the most when the person across the table is really well prepared. The agents and I both have the common goal of seeing the players succeed for the Browns, and when that happens it’s really rewarding.”

With the addition of MacCracken, the status of Woodie Dixon is unknown. Dixon has served as the team’s general counsel and director of the salary cap the past two seasons and has been with the organization for the last six years. It would not be a surprise if he joined the growing list of former Chiefs employees.


  • BILLS – released TE Derek Fine, LB Ashlee Palmer, S John Wendling, C Marvin Philip, DE Jermaine McGhee, DT Marcus Smith and WR Justin Jenkins.
  • FALCONS – named QB coach Bill Musgrave as assistant head coach.
  • RAIDERS – agreed to terms with K Sebastian Janikowski to a four-year, $16 million with $9 million in guaranteed dollars.
  • REDSKINS – hired Paul Kelly as assistant to the head coach.
  • STEELERS – named Scottie Montgomery wide receivers coach.

26 Responses to “A Look At Chiefs Free Agents … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 17, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Bob, would be interested in which players (of those RFA not tendered) you’d like to re-sign. The only one I’d even consider is Gutierrez – for the minimum plus some (limited) signing bonus.

    Beyond that just two comments:

    - I don’t see a million $$ thrown into Alleman’s direction.
    - Tendering O’Callaghan at 5th round level may backfire if the Chiefs really want to keep him. I’d prefer to see him locked up with a new contract. If that doesn’t work out I’d consider a 2nd rounder on him. A 5th round pick may not provide the same help as he does with the experience he got over the 2009 season.

  • February 17, 2010  - MikeO says:

    I’d pick up Derek Fine from the Bills.

  • February 17, 2010  - Mike says:

    Maybe I don’t understand the process correctly, but why not “original pick tender” Derrick Johnson as opposed to a “first round tender” which would cost almost double?

  • February 17, 2010  - dubldug says:

    i think tou need to keep wade smith before niswanger. when he filled in for fudy the line play was better. corey mays was lucky to start one game at lb, let alone a season. he is a special teamer that needs not be a high priced chief.

  • February 17, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Until they have someone better at each of the respective positions…they should try to keep them all. (Except Wade and Ryan. Agree with you 100% there, Bob)

    If an upgrade can be made, and proper compensation is given…I wouldn’t be too sorry to see any of these guys go.

  • February 17, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    Mike, DJ will be due at least 110% of his 2009 pay regardless of which level he is tendered (unless it’s a ROFR tender when this rule does not apply). With a 2.25 M$ base salary that amounts to 2.475 M$ – throw in some boni he may have got (workout or whatever) and you are close to the 1st rounder Bob proposes but far above the amount due for a second (or as you proposed: original round tender). Obviously noone (ahm — hi Carl!) considered he may become a RFA once his contract expires.

  • February 17, 2010  - Mike says:

    Thanks KC_Guy. Makes sense.

  • February 17, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Mike, the other thing is that another team who thinks that DJ can fill a need on thier roster, which Im pretty sure there is some team out there who wouldn’t mind having him could come in and make an offer after the chiefs offer. I believe that tendering his offer as a first rounder would require the team who wants him to match the salary and give the chiefs a first round draft choice as compensation for signing him, otherwise the original tender price if tendered that way would only require the other team to match that salary, the chiefs get nothing.

  • February 17, 2010  - Danny W says:

    Bob these posts are absolutely fabulous. Thank you Bob seriously. I still want you to give us a mock draft of your personal liking though. I think you have to keep Chambers Copper Wade Smith Corey Mays Jared Page and try and deal Brokie. I think you could pick up a better back up as UDFA. If we could get a 3rd or another 5th for Croyle that would be great. Let the rest go. Keep Brown as a backup and Vrabel as a back up good plans Bob I love it.

  • February 17, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Keep Brodie Croyle. Matt Cassel has a serious problem hanging onto the ball too long. His undecisiveness still worries me. I’m sure we will improve our oline this year, but that is no cure for his troubles. I’m assuming Charlie Weis will address & improve his problem.
    In the meantime Brodie is a very capable back up.
    There are very few better talented QB’s available to replace him. Especially since we traded Thigpen. If Cassel goes down, I want Brodie.
    Go Chiefs.

  • February 17, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    Interesting point, Jimbo. I wonder what will happen this year if Brodie outplays Cassel again in training camp and preseason? Also, maybe Brodie can benefit from Weis as much as Cassel can.

  • February 17, 2010  - Danny W says:

    Brodie has not outplayed any one. He does not have the intangibles or the amount of starts and wins as Matt Cassel. The guy is 200lbs soaking wet. He is Brokie. Thigpen was bar none the worst quarterback to darken the door at any NFL stadium yes even worse than JaMarcus Russel. Cassel started and won 11 games all while taking more sacks than any one that year. Get him some protection and you will see Carson Palmer like abilities come out of him.

  • February 17, 2010  - TimR says:

    Great article Bob! I agree on most of those assessments. I would however, keep O’Callaghan & lock him up. Even if we draft somebody to take his place, he’s valuable, quality depth. I would say the same thing about Croyle. I think we need to keep him unless the price is right via trade. I would let Brown go. I’d try to keep Page. He makes plays. Wade’s versatility may be too valuable to let go of easily.

  • February 17, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Danny W.
    You must be living in lala land. Brodie has a rocket arm, makes quick decisions & knows the offense we are using.
    Anybody that states Jamarcus Russell is a good QB is clueless. (He’s maybe better than some pop warner QB’s).
    If you have some sort of facts to back up your statement, let it fly. Otherwise go back to Raiderland dude.

  • February 17, 2010  - arrowhead1978 says:

    Danny W, did you watch the Baltimore game last year where Croyle started? Then the subsequent games against worse defenses by Cassel? Cassel was playing for one of the best TEAMS in the NFL, doesn’t make his passing yardage total any more his when your WR’s are the leaders in YAC, meaning he throw a 3-5 yard route and let them get 30… It padded his numbers big time being there… And thigpen is better then Russell, the Big Tuna actually traded for him, I dont see any other NFL team trading for Russell..

  • February 17, 2010  - Anonymous says:

    I agree, Jimbo. Brodie played quite well last year when he had the chance. He also took some pretty good shots without getting hurt. A lot of reports out of training camp and practice last year had him outplaying Cassel a lot of the time.

    Also Danny, your “all while taking more sacks than any one that year” in regards to Cassel? Exactly. Thats part of the point. He holds onto the ball too long.

  • February 17, 2010  - JJosefsen says:

    Well don’t forget Brodie was going up against the no. 2 defense, not the starters, in those training camp skirmishes.
    I wouldn’t count out Cassel yet, but Brodie is as good a backup as we can get..

  • February 17, 2010  - colby says:

    Fantastic article Bob! This is exactly why this site remains my favorite for all things concerning the Chiefs. I agree with your assessments completely. Although I do think the Chiefs should put a 2nd round tender on Page no matter what. Once he signs the contract, we can trade him for a lower round pick to Detroit if he doesn’t fit in here.

    I think Vrabel might try to go back to New England or Pittsburgh. He’d probably play as a role player for a team built to win now, but not here in KC. We’ll probably replace him with Adalius Thomas who was always a Pioli favorite in New England. Also, I’d much rather have Joey Porter once Miami cuts him than Vrabel. We get veteran leadership AND a guy who was still productive enough to get 9 sacks last year in a limited role.

    Finally, we should give Wade Smith a nice 2-3 year deal for 1-1.5 mil a year. He is so versatile and while he isn’t a Pro Bowler, he is a respectable stop gap starter and great for depth.

  • February 17, 2010  - ThunderChief says:

    The conversation has careened toward QB which is a volatile one of late for those of us with opinions that follow the Chiefs. I don’t like the current stable as each of them has question marks in terms of decision making, arm strength (Cassel), durability (Croyle), and inexperience (Croyle and the 3rd stringer.

    Right now, I don’t see Cassel with any genuine competition now that Haley/Pioli have made their commitment to the guy and short of that, we have what we have, get what we get, and it all adds up to AVERAGE on the best of days. Cassel might prove me wrong but right now, I’m not seeing a dynamic leader among the current Chiefs QB corps.

    What to do if true? Bite the bullet and pick one early if there at #5 overall, or work out a trade for someone who’s been there/done that OR someone that will at least seriously challenge Cassel for the top job.

    The real world tells me that when the Brinx truck has already unloaded $Millions of Hunt’s money now in Cassel’s bank acount, coupled with Pioli’s endorsement and Haley’s buy-in, we’re stuck with what we have at QB. We are who we are. Over and out.

  • February 17, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    For those that think we’re “married” to Cassel forever, consider this:

    Cassel’s contract call for the “guaranteed” $28 million to be paid in the first two years…last year and next. If he’s on the Chiefs roster for 2011, however, he’ll be due an additional $7.5 million bonus.

    Another average (or below) year, and he might be looking for a job somewhere else. It could happen.

  • February 17, 2010  - jimbo says:

    The whole point was to not lose Brodie as our quality backup QB. There is slim pickens out there to replace him.

  • February 17, 2010  - Danny W says:

    I am not a Raider fan in my point I was saying that JaMarcus Russel is the second worse quarterback in the NFL to Tyler Thigpen. And if you want facts lets look back and when Brokie was given a shot.
    Passing Comp Att Yds TD
    Career 173 300 1631 8
    Rushing Att Yds Avg TD
    Complete Statistics
    I give you the guy has a fast release but we cant field Tim Lincecum. I’m just saying Matt hasn’t been a pro bowler for the chiefs but he is better than Brodie Croyle. I will take a whole season of him holding on to the ball too long in 2008 and still finishing in the top 10 in QB standings over one game wonders with an avg. frame and fast arm. Why have him as a back up when you are going to need the third string guy in the same game?

  • February 18, 2010  - Jim Lloyd + says:

    Brodie needs to lift a lot of weight’s and get an extra 20 lb’s of mussel .
    Camp & games arn’t the same , but I think that if Brodie had Two TE’s along with a deasent line + Charles he might do it !

  • February 18, 2010  - jimbo says:

    Thanks Danny W.
    No one could argue that Jamarcus Russell is the biggest bust, since the Chiefs drafted Todd Blackledge. To say that he is better than Thigpen or Croyle is laughable & debatable. That’s what irked me about your comment.
    Jamarcus indeed has the physical qualities to be great. He simply has no desire or passion to improve or play the game IMO.
    Go Chiefs.

  • February 18, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    jimbo says:
    “Jamarcus indeed has the physical qualities to be great. He simply has no desire or passion to improve or play the game IMO.”

    Well…look where he’s playing. I wonder if a change of scenery and some quality coaching could make a difference?

  • February 18, 2010  - jimbo says:


    His mind & spirit just does’nt care. He has all the money in the world to spend on whatever he wants.

Leave a Reply


Bottom of Bird Cage
Chiefs Players
College football
Cup O'Chiefs
Draft 2010
Game Coverage
Hall of Fame
Herm Speaks
Mouth Of Todd
NFL Draft
NFL Review
Other News
Power Rankings
Practice Update
Training Camp