Chiefs

An early look at seven free agents who might be good fits for the Chiefs

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is a former first-round pick who made 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 starts after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is a former first-round pick who made 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 starts after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee. The Associated Press

The start of free agency is still nearly a month and a half away (March 10), but the Chiefs’ primary needs are crystal clear — offensive line, receiver and linebacker — and it’s never too early to take a look at pending free agents who might look good in red and gold.

Here are seven players who could interest the Chiefs come March, with their vitals, stats and analysis of their current situation with the help of cap analyst and former agent Joel Corry. Corry projects the Chiefs to be right at the projected cap of $142 million for 2015, but they can create a significant amount of cap room by making some difficult decisions.

Remember, however, that these are all good players in or about to be in their primes, which means some of them are bound to re-up with their current teams.

WR Randall Cobb

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

24

4

5-10

192

Green Bay

12.3 (9th of 110 qualifying receivers)

Analysis: Former second-round pick who caught 91 catches for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 starts. Primarily a slot receiver who occasionally lines up in the backfield. Is incredibly quick and comfortable working over the middle, plus he’s a dangerous runner after the catch — can turn a short pass into a big play. Green Bay already has a ton of money committed to No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson, but Cobb is a captain who might understand how good he has it with Aaron Rodgers. Plus, the Packers’ second-round pick last May, Davante Adams, started to come on toward the end of last season, but Green Bay uses a ton of three-wide sets and unlike Cobb, he’s primarily an outside receiver, so there’s no real overlap there.

The money: “He says he wants to stay, and he did something every smart before the season — he said he hadn’t earned a contract extension and didn’t want to negotiate an extension off an injury-played season. He’s capped by Nelson’s contract, which is a $10 million-a-year deal. In no instance should he be signing for less than Greg Jennings got at $9 million a year and $17.8 million in guarantees. In Green Bay he’s probably going to take less than that to stay — they don’t guarantee base salaries there. so the guaranteed money is always less there unless your name is Aaron Rodgers.”

LG Orlando Franklin

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

27

4

6-7

320

Denver

12 (13th of 78)

Analysis: Former second-round pick who made 16 starts this year and all 63 he’s played in during his career. Has proven to be extremely durable — has only missed one day in his career. Is long for a guard and can engulf defenders, though linemen can occasionally get underneath him. Has decent athleticism and is comfortable with the zone run blocking that Chiefs coach Andy Reid prefers. As an added bonus, he’s played very well in the past at right tackle, where he could provide insurance for Donald Stephenson. Has said he wants to return to Denver, where he’d be a nice fit in Gary Kubiak’s zone-heavy running scheme. However, the Broncos have a number of other free agents they need to take care of first, including tight end Julius Thomas and receiver Demaryius Thomas.

The money: “That depends on what position he’s gonna play, right tackle or guard. But either way he should be a $6 million a year guy, and that’s being conservative. Top guards are getting $7 or $8 million a year because Andy Levitre signed for that with $15 million guarantees.”

RT/OG Bryan Bulaga

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

25

5

6-5

314

Green Bay

11.9 (16th of 84)

Analysis: Former first-round pick who made 15 starts this year and 48 of 52 career games. Bounced back from two injury-plagued seasons in 2012 (hip) and 2013 (torn ACL) and to become a reliable starter at right tackle in 2014. Run blocking is average but held up fairly well in pass protection (only two sacks allowed) despite only average arm length (33 1/4 inches). Could offer insurance at right tackle in case gifted four-year pro Donald Stephenson fails to emerge from the doghouse. Even if that happens, don’t count out Bulaga making a seamless transition to guard. If he hits free agency — the Packers already have decent money invested in other linemen — whatever team signs him will have to be comfortable with his medical history, however.

The money: “Here’s the interesting thing about him — they were supposed to put him at left tackle before he tore up his knee in 2013. So if some team wants to make left tackle out of him, he’s gonna get overpaid. I suspect he goes back to Green Bay. It’s gonna be under (Gosder) Cherilus, who makes $7 million per year and is the highest-paid pure right tackle. But other factors for Green Bay are (guard) Josh Sitton’s deal, which $6.75 million, so Bulaga is worth at least $6 or $7 million per year.

LG Mike Iupati

Age;Years pro;Height;Weight;Team;2014 PFF rating

27;5;6-5;331;San Francisco;15 starts;11.2 (14th of 78)

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

 2014 PFF rating

27

5

6-5

331

San Francisco

11.2 (14th of 78)

Analysis: Former first-round pick who made 15 starts this year and all 75 he’s played in during his career. Will miss the Pro Bowl (he’s been picked three times now) with a hyperextended elbow, but has proven to be very durable. Has more experience in a gap/man-blocking running scheme but is an elite run-blocking guard who can move. Would immediately give the Chiefs’ some physicality and toughness at a position that was essentially a sieve in 2014 after projected starter Jeff Allen went down with a biceps injury in the season opener. Keeping him seems like a no-brainer — he says he wants to return — but he will command a large contract, and the 49ers have some depth at Iupati’s position. It also remains to be seen if the Chiefs would invest that type of money at a position where (a.) Allen, a former second-round pick, is due to return and (b.) teams with strong scouting departments can often find cost-effective solutions.

The money: “He’s going to want to be in that upper echelon guar range. I suspect he’s going to be looking for the Andy Levitre deal or higher, $7.5 to $8 million a year, so he’s going to be looking in that stratosphere. Whether he gets someone to pay it is a different story. I think he’s going to be looking for over $20 million in guarantees.”

WR Jeremy Maclin

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

26

6

6-0

198

Philadelphia

9 (14th of 110)

Analysis: Former first-round pick who made 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns in 16 starts after missing all of 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee. Still has downfield speed — created several big plays this year in which he ran past secondary defenders. Can track the deep ball and serve as a vertical threat. Extensive injury history is a concern but there’s no doubt he’d fit in Kansas City — Chiefs coach Andy Reid was Philadelphia’s coach when the Eagles selected him in the first round. But Maclin has said he wants to return to Philly, and Philly has said it wants him back.

The money: “They paid him $5.5 (million) on a one (year deal) coming off an injury, and they paid DeSean $9.7 million a year a couple years ago with escalators and incentives that took it over $10 million. I could easily see him going Look, you got rid of DeSean because you thought I could be your number one. That deal is two or three years old. So I want $25 million guaranteed and $10 million per year is what his agent will look for to stay...for Kansas City, if I want to go there, I’m asking for Bowe money if you want me to be the (No. 1) receiver. Because you’ve been paying him No. 1 money to perform like a No. 2.”

ILB Brandon Spikes

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

27

5

6-2

255

Buffalo

7.3 (13th of 60)

Analysis: Former second-round pick who had 54 tackles and a sack with 16 games (10 starts). Is not fleet of foot but is disciplined and stout against the run. The Bills have a lot of young depth at inside linebacker so he seemed for free agency until Rex Ryan was hired as head coach. Ryan prefers a 3-4 defense, which Spikes played in for several years in New England, and Ryan recently expressed his affinity for Spikes by calling him “a tough guy, a mean guy.” Spikes could bring some much-needed attitude to the Chiefs’ interior defense.

The money: “He took $3,25 million on a one (year deal) last year, so if he could get a long-term deal in the $5 million per year range, that’s probably what he’d want. But he’s a two-down linebacker and you’re only gonna pay a two-down linebacker so much. There wasn’t a big market for him last year and I don’t know if he’s done much to change his perception.”

LG Clint Boling

Age

Years pro

Height

Weight

Team

2014 PFF rating

25

4

6-5

310

Cincinnati

5.8 (19th of 78)

Analysis: Former fourth-round pick who made 16 starts this year (despite undergoing ACL surgery last January) and 47 of 49 career games. Has been a starter since his arrival in Cincinnati. Shows solid athleticism — he can move well on traps and get to the second-level, where he can wall off defenders — in the running game and would be a nice fit in the Chiefs’ zone-blocking running scheme. Regressed a tad as a pass blocker this year (three sacks and 16 quarterback hurries allowed) but hasn’t hit his prime and yet and would still be an upgrade over what the Chiefs had at the position in 2014. Boling even started two games at right tackle this year, so he offers insurance there. Cincinnati would be wise to bring him back, however, and while Boling (No. 65 below) has said he wants to return, he admitted to being mild curious about hitting the open market.

The money: “He’s probably gonna come in under Iupati, definitely. He’s probably in the $4 or $5 million range as a guard. Because the average guard makes $3.5 (million) a year. They’ve got cap room. K.C. let two guards go that got $4.2 million (Geoff Schwartz) and $4.5 million (Jon Asamoah) last year so you’d think they’d be willing to pay something in that neighborhood for a replacement guard.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

  Comments