The first full week of free agency saw more subtractions than additions for the Chiefs and “Rosterology,” yet nothing unexpected given the team’s lack of available room under the salary cap.
The Chiefs re-signed two key backups from 2013 and improved the defensive line depth with the addition of Vance Walker from the Oakland Raiders. Inside linebacker Joe Mays, formerly of the Houston Texans, is the new addition most likely to win a starting spot within the linebacker corps.
The team officially said goodbye to tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, defensive end Tyson Jackson, safety Quintin Demps and inside linebacker Akeem Jordan. None of these players were expected to stay in Kansas City given the team’s salary cap constraints. Also gone is defensive lineman Jerrell Powe, who wasn’t tendered as a restricted free agent and signed with the Houston Texans.
The team did hold on to a couple of their own affordable, dependable reserves with the re-signing of linebacker Frank Zombo and safety Husain Abudullah. Zombo proved a reliable fill-in when starting linebacker Justin Houston was injured last season, and Abudullah turned in a strong performance in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to Indianapolis. Zombo should continue his reserve role, while Abdullah is expected to see an expanded role and potentially battle for the starting free safety spot. Both right now are projected to make the 2014 roster.
Throughout the 2014 offseason, “Rosterology” on ChiefsSpin.com will bring roster madness to the Chiefs, providing an opportunity to follow the building of the team throughout the offseason as players win spots on the team, sleepers play their way to starting positions and seeming locks fade down the stretch.
Here’s the depth chart as it stands now. Players marked with an asterisk (*) are considered 90 percent likely or better to make the 53-man roster. Players without an asterisk are on the bubble, meaning they would currently make the team but are not guaranteed a roster spot. Spots marked “OPEN” indicated there is no one currently under contract to likely fill that spot on the depth chart.
|WR||Donnie Avery*||A.J. Jenkins*||Weston Dressler|
|C||Rodney Hudson*||Eric Kush*|
|RG||Jeff Linkenbach*||Rokevious Watkins|
|TE||Anthony Fasano*||Travis Kelce*||Richard Gordon|
|WR||Dwayne Bowe*||Junior Hemingway||OPEN|
|QB||Alex Smith*||Chase Daniel*||Tyler Bray|
|RB||Jamaal Charles*||Knile Davis*||OPEN|
Unsigned Free Agents: WR Kyle Williams
Signed for 2014: TE Sean McGrath, RB Cyrus Davis, G Rishaw Johnson
Signed to Reserve Squad: RB Joe McKnight, T Colin Kelly, C Chandler Burden, T R.J. Dill, WR Frankie Hammond, TE Demetrius Harris, WR Jerrell Jackson, FB Eric Kettani, WR Rashad Ross, WR Fred Williams
The signing of Jeff Linkenbach moves guard Rishaw Johnson from the bubble to off the roster for now, but there is plenty of time to make up ground. It seems likely Linkenbach makes the team due to his flexibility and experience, but it’s worth noting his contract is not an albatross. It’s a one-year deal with just $250,000 guaranteed money, according to Spotrac.com. If he’s beaten out in training camp, he can be cut with minimal cap impact.
As of now, it’s hard not to plug Linkenbach into the starting right guard position, with Johnson and Rokevious Watkins competing as well. The Chiefs have stressed Linkenbach’s versatile, which suggests they would like to use him as Geoff Schwartz was used last year, filling in at multiple positions as needed for injuries.
The most glaring position left unfilled so far is the starting left tackle slot. The closer the Chiefs get to training camp without signing a reliable left tackle, the greater likelihood that Donald Stephenson takes the starting position over Eric Fisher, last year’s No. 1 pick overall. A clear picture as to who lines up where should present itself in the coming weeks once organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps get underway.
The Emmanuel Sanders contract fiasco also has severe repercussions on the 53-man roster. Sanders would have fit in well as the third receiver in the slot, and while the Chiefs were negotiating with Sanders other free agent wide receivers including Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell signed with the Patriots.
|LDE||Vance Walker*||Allen Bailey||Mike Catapano*|
|LOLB||Justin Houston*||Frank Zombo*|
|LILB||Joe Mays*||Nico Johnson*||OPEN|
|RILB||Derrick Johnson*||James-Michael Johnson|
|LCB||Brandon Flowers*||Marcus Cooper*||OPEN|
|FS||Sanders Commings*||Husain Abdullah*|
Unsigned Free Agents: FS Kendrick Lewis
Signed for 2014: CB Ron Parker, DE Jaye Howard, LB Dezman Moses
Signed to Reserve Squad: DE Dominique Hamilton, DE Brandon Moore, DE Demarcus Van Dyke, DT Chas Alecxih, DT Risean Broussard, LB Jordan Campbell, LB Alonzo Highsmith, LB Josh Martin, LB Ridge Wilson, CB Vernon Kearney, CB Terrance Parks, S Malcom Bronson
With the addition of Joe Mays, the Chiefs have filled most of the areas of concern in the linebacker corps, especially with last year’s starting inside linebacker Akeem Jordan signing with the Washington Redskins. Based on the roster makeup in 2013, it would suggest the Chiefs would like another inside linebacker for depth and outside linebacker.
While Walker is a versatile defensive linemen, it appears he is the front runner to take defensive end position vacated by Tyson Jackson. However, in the Chiefs rotation he will likely take snaps at nose tackle as well to spell Dontari Poe. The team still needs to address depth at the defensive line, and right now it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Chiefs use a draft pick on a defensive lineman.
The area untouched so far on the defensive side is the backfield, other than the re-signing of safety Husain Abdullah. That still leaves the Chiefs with three open spots at corner and safety.
No changes thus far on special teams, although from Weston Dressler’s conference call with the media it is clear he will be in the running to return kicks for the Chiefs. He may get a try on kickoff returns, but given his history in the Canadian Football League it is more likely he will get a chance to make the team as the lead punt returner.