KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs have competition for safety Ron Parker’s services ahead of free agency.
Parker, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, has drawn interest from “multiple teams,” a source familiar with the situation confirmed Saturday morning with ChiefsDigest.com.
Saturday at 11 a.m. CT marked the beginning of the three-day window when teams are allowed to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the agents of players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when 2014 contracts expire at 3 p.m. CT, in accordance with NFL rules.
At least seven teams inquired about Parker, Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports reported late Saturday afternoon. Getlin identified the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and New York Jets by name in a tweet.
Those named organizations interested in Parker were later independently confirmed through a source by ChiefsDigest.com.
The Houston Texans also inquired about Parker, Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Chiefs met with Parker’s agent at the NFL Scouting Combine to discuss a contract for the fourth-year pro, as previously reported by ChiefsDigest.com.
But the Chiefs can’t afford to get in a bidding war, especially when considering the team is currently an estimated $1.6 million over the cap before the start of the calendar year, according to spotrac.com.
Parker is virtually guaranteed to command a top salary given the free-agent market and the perceived weakness of the 2015 NFL Draft class at the safety position.
The 6-0, 206-pound Parker proved his versatility in 2014 by playing cornerback and safety, appearing in 16 games with 15 starts.
His signature game as a cornerback where he displayed press-man coverage skills came in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills when he shadowed wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a majority of the contest.
Parker, who possesses 4.36 speed, was on Watkins late in the fourth quarter and defended against two passes intended for Watkins inside the red zone. He also defended a red-zone pass intended for wide receiver Chris Hogan during the series.
The end result of the series was Buffalo turning the ball over on downs at the Chiefs’ 15-yard line.
Parker was mostly responsible in limiting Watkins to four catches for 27 yards on 10 targets on the game. Watkins entered Week 10 with 12 catches for 279 yards and three touchdowns on 20 targets combined in the previous two games.
The 27-year-old Parker can play cornerback as needed, but his true value for the Chiefs came at the strong safety position where he started 11 games while filling in for Eric Berry.
Parker finished the 2014 season establishing career highs in starts (15), total tackles (94), solo tackles (84) and passes defensed (12). Parker added a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and quarterback hurry on the season, and was a key member of a Chiefs pass defense that finished second in the league (203.2 yards allowed per game) and didn’t allow a 300-yard passer during the regular season.
Whether to pay Parker a premium contract or cutting ties will prove the biggest dilemma for the Chiefs.
Berry’s playing status as he battles lymphoma remains unknown, and retaining Parker would offer a proven starter if Berry can’t return in 2015.
In the event Parker’s asking price becomes too steep, the Chiefs could focus on bringing back safety Kurt Coleman, who is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.