On the same day one member of the Chiefs’ 2013 secondary found a new home, Kansas City signed another defensive back to compete for playing time.
On Friday, just hours after free safety Kendrick Lewis officially became a Houston Texan, the Chiefs released defensive lineman Brandon Moore and signed cornerback Chris Owens to a contract. Terms were not disclosed.
Owens, 27, spent the majority of last season as Cleveland’s nickel corner after he lost out to Buster Skrine in a training-camp battle for the starting position opposite Joe Haden. Owens played in 12 games before he suffered a knee sprain was placed on injured reserve. He was released shortly thereafter, however, and later signed with Miami, where he played in just one game.
At 5 feet 9 and 180 pounds, Owens ― who finished 58 tackles, defended three passes and recorded 2.5 sacks last season ― doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of the larger cornerbacks the Chiefs tend to prefer. However, in a career-high 545 snaps last season, Owens finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 2.2, which ranked 45th out of 110 corners who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps.
In fact, Owens’ grade was higher than the Chiefs’ top four corners, Sean Smith (0.9), Marcus Cooper (negative-3.0), Dunta Robinson (negative-5.3) and Brandon Flowers (negative-5.9) ... though it was lower than the grade of the Chiefs’ fifth corner, Ron Parker (4.7).
Owens, who also had the second-most sacks in the league among corners (three), posted PFF defensive grades of 4.9 in 2012, -1.1 in 2011, -12.9 in 2010, 0.9 in 2009.
Owens also brings some special teams experience. The former third-round pick of the Falcons finished last season with five special-teams tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Perhaps his biggest claim to fame isa game-saving tackle
he made on Minnesota’s Percy Harvin late in the fourth quarter of a 2011 game.
With Atlanta nursing a 24-14 lead, Owens ― who ran a 4.51 time in the 40-yard dash at the 2009 combine ― chased down Harvin, a noted speedster, at the end of a 104-yard kickoff return. The Falcons’ defense proceeded to keep the Vikings out of the end zone, and the Falcons held on for the win.
To make room for Owens, the Chiefs released Moore, 23, an undrafted rookie from the University of Texas who is listed at 6 feet 5 and 317 pounds. He signed with the Chargers before training camp and spent the first 12 weeks of the season on the team’s practice squad before he was released in November.
As for Lewis, his departure via free-agency has long been expected. However, it remains to be seen who will replace him in the Chiefs’ secondary in 2014. The team remains high on 2013 fifth-rounder Sanders Commings, who played cornerback at Georgia but probably projects best as a free safety. Veteran Husain Abdullah ― who just signed a two-year deal to come back to Kansas City ― also has some experience.