KANSAS CITY, Mo. – General manager John Dorsey had a busy week retooling the Chiefs with impact signings and transactions to bolster depth.
Dorsey, of course, likely hasn’t had much time for anything else since he leads the player personnel department.
Not only are the Chiefs in full-blown free agency mode, Dorsey and his staff are also preparing for the NFL Draft.
Despite the demanding schedule, Dorset set aside roughly 15 minutes Wednesday to chat with Chiefs beat writers on a conference call, and offered thoughts on the first full week of free agency since the NFL’s calendar year began on March 10.
THE FRONT FIVE
The Chiefs made two signings to address one of the biggest problems on the roster in 2014, namely the interior of the offensive line.
“All along we’ve known we had a couple cracks in the foundation last year and we’ve always wanted to strengthen the foundation,” Dorsey said. “On both sides you want a really strong foundation moving forward.”
Guard Mike McGlynn and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach remain unsigned as unrestricted free agents. And the Chiefs replaced them with veteran guards Paul Fanaika and two-time Pro Bowl selection Ben Grubbs.
Dorsey indicated Fanaika, who signed a three-year, $8.1 million contract, will provide competition for Zach Fulton at the right guard position.
“I think he will make the interior offensive line competitive,” Dorsey said of Fanaika. “He’s proven that he can line up and start in the National Football League. We’re very happy we could get him and now see what he can do in terms of competing in training camp.”
Grubbs projects as a left guard, his natural position, and Dorsey appreciated having a proven veteran next to left tackle Eric Fisher, who enters his third year.
“Anytime you can add guys that have won at a high level,” Dorsey said, “anytime you can add guys who represent the principles you talk about on a day-in, day-out basis, that’s good for everybody.”
Of course, the addition of two veteran guards leaves offensive lineman Jeff Allen without a true position ahead of organized team activities (OTAs). Allen moved from left guard to right tackle during the 2014 preseason and projected as the regular-season starter while Donald Stephenson served a four-game suspension.
“I think you just put him in the mix and let that competition work itself out,” Dorsey said of Allen. “Let’s get into OTAs, let’s get into training camp and let everybody compete, and moving forward, we’ll have some depth there now.”
While the Chiefs have added depth along the offensive line, it remains to be seen if center Eric Kush will assume the starting job with the departure of Rodney Hudson, who signed a free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.
Kush, a sixth-round pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, spent two seasons learning behind Hudson, and Dorsey maintained “full confidence” in Kush.
Dorsey, however, stopped short of declaring Kush the starting center.
“That’s ultimately Coach’s (Andy Reid) decision,” Dorsey said.
WIDE RECEIVER OPTIONS
The Chiefs upgraded the wide receiver corps by signing Jeremy Maclin to a five-year, $55 million deal, and then re-signed Jason Avant to a one-year deal, a day after parting ways with Dwayne Bowe.
Maclin’s signing provided the biggest splash, but the return of Avant shouldn’t be ignored based on what he offers.
“Ever since he’s been here I’ve respected his professional approach to the game,” Dorsey said of Avant. “He is going to go out there and meticulously do his route running, he’s going to secure the ball. It’s always good to have veteran presence around when you have younger players and he can still play at a high level so to me that’s a no brainer in terms of resigning.”
Maclin and Avant anchor what shapes out as a young receiver corps with Albert Wilson, Junior Hemingway, Armon Binns, Fred Williams, Da’Rick Rogers and Corbin Louks.
“I feel good,” Dorsey said of the current group of wide receivers. I think we were lucky enough to acquire a really good football player (Maclin) that’s going to help us. We are slowly building some depth that we think we can come in and compete with. We will be able to do some nice things at that position while we head into training camp and preseason.”
The Chiefs can still address the position during the NFL Draft, and Dorsey certainly left that door open.
“You know our philosophy is we are never done,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process. We will do our due diligence, and we will continue to look at every available scenario that unfolds and if we feel it’s right for the organization then we will move forward. That’s how I’m going to look at it.”
The Chiefs retained the services of safety Ron Parker after he signed a five-year deal, and Dorsey couldn’t be happier given Parker’s versatility.
“I can envision him playing some roles within (defensive coordinator) Bob Sutton’s defense,” the general manager said. “He plays safety at a high level and he plays corner. I mean, he’s very versatile. We’ve always said guys that play and are a part of the fabric we talk about, we are going to try to get something done with them.”
The Chiefs also signed strong safety Tyvon Branch to a one-year deal, a move that allows flexibility on the back end of coverage and sub-packages when including Parker and Husain Abdullah.
“I think they’re good football players and you can’t have enough good football players on your team,” Dorsey said. “Now we’ll let that work itself out as we go to OTA’s and to training camp and see how that works itself out.”
THE BUSINESS SIDE
Dorsey is certainly consistent when it comes to two subjects: Contract and money discussions.
The Chiefs general manager normally sidesteps inquiries on financial matters and Wednesday wasn’t different when asked about Grubbs reportedly reworking his contract.
“I don’t talk about stuff like that,” Dorsey said. “You know me.”
How do the Chiefs plan to work the salary cap with $135,675 in remaining space as of Wednesday and with the NFL Draft on the horizon?
“It’s the business of football,” Dorsey replied. “We don’t really talk about the business of football. We just kind of put our heads down and go about our business.”
But he understands the questions had to be posed.
“That’s all right,” Dorsey said. “That’s fair.”
There was one business decision Dorsey touched on, and that surrounded the release of Dwayne Bowe, who spent eight seasons with the Chiefs.
“I think you always try and put your best foot forward in those types of situations with players like that,” Dorsey said. “Dwayne’s accomplished a lot. He’s been a team guy, he’s done everything that we’ve asked. To me, this is the hard part of the business when you have to make certain decisions like this. I think you guys have seen what I’ve said in my quotes on how I feel towards him and that’s kind of where I am.”