When cornerback Chris Owens signed with the Chiefs last week, it appeared that he had done so for primarily one reason.
“I felt comfortable there,” Owens said. “I took a visit there and I felt comfortable. I know ET, (secondary coach) Emmitt Thomas, from when he coached me at Atlanta. It was pretty much a no-brainer after that.”
Owens, 27, said he visited the Buccaneers and Steelers before signing a reasonable one-year deal with the Chiefs for a base salary of $730,000. He racked up 58 tackles, three pass deflections and three sacks last season while serving the majority of the season as Cleveland’s nickel cornerback.
“Coach Ray Horton, he had a different type of package,” Owens said of Cleveland’s former defensive coordinator. “He had a couple of versatile packages for myself and other players. I’m comfortable in the slot and I’m comfortable outside, so I’m just going to go in and do whatever I’m asked to do to the best of my abilities.”
At 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, Owens doesn’t fit the profile of the physical kind of corners the Chiefs are thought to prefer. But he does bring some physicality, as his sack total was the second most at his position, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Coach Ray Horton dialed my number up a couple of times,” Owens said. “You know, I have to give credit to those guys up front, the O-line and running backs. I guess it was an opportunity, and I made the best of it.”
Owens’ addition is the latest in a series of team-friendly free-agent moves the Chiefs have made. Linebacker Joe Mays and defensive tackle Vance Walker each signed multiyear deals, with the contracts structured in a such a way that the Chiefs can save money by releasing each of them if they so choose.
It’s up to them — and the free agents who signed one-year deals, like guard Jeff Linkenbach and Owens — to play well enough to stick around for the 2015 season.
Owens visited Arrowhead Stadium last season as a member of the Browns, who lost to the Chiefs 23-17, and is excited about the opportunity.
“Man, those fans get loud,” Owens said. “I’m happy I’m on the other side of that intensity from the fans. When you’re a visiting team coming in there, you can’t hear much. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to play in that stadium as a member of the Chiefs.
“I’ve played there twice in two different uniforms, and now as a member of the Chiefs, I’ll be happier to have them on my side, finally.”