KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Since the start of the league’s calendar year on March 11, the Chiefs appeared content to allow most of their players set to command lucrative contracts sign elsewhere.
In their place, the team signed players at a lesser price while bringing back a few from last season’s roster
Here’s a snapshot of the past week:
• Starting left tackle Branden Albert signed a five-year, $46 million deal with Miami Dolphins.
• Wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the Tennessee Titans.
• Signing with the Atlanta Falcons are starting defensive end Tyson Jackson, who drew a five-year, $25 million contract, and guard Jon Asamoah, who signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract.
• Starting right guard Geoff Schwartz penned a four-year, $16.8 million deal with the New York Giants.
• Safety/returner Quintin Demps signed an undisclosed deal with the Giants and joins Schwartz in New York.
Currently unsigned from last year as of this publishing are inside linebacker Akeem Jordan, free safety Kendrick Lewis, wide receiver Kyle Williams and defensive lineman Jerrell Powe, a restricted free agent the Chiefs didn’t tender.
• Defensive back Husain Abdullah, who turns 29 in July, returns after signing a two-year, $2.27 million deal. A special teams ace with the Chiefs in 2013, Abdullah is expected to see an expanded role on defense and could battle for the starting free safety position.
• Offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach, who turns 27 in June, signed a one-year, $900,000 contract and his signing is comparable to how the Chiefs signed Geoff Schwartz to a one-year deal in 2013. With 60 appearances and 33 starts in four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Linkenbach offers experience and versatility at either guard or tackle. His signing bolsters depth considering the departures of Schwartz, Jon Asamoah and Branden Albert.
• Inside linebacker Joe Mays, who turns 29 in July, signed a two-year, $6 million deal and should compete for the starting job against second-year pro Nico Johnson, last season’s fourth-round pick. Mays reunites with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who drafted Mays in 2008 while with the Philadelphia Eagles.
• Defensive lineman Vance Walker, who turns 27 on April 26, signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal. Effective against the pass and run, Walker arguably offers the Chiefs more than what was lost with the departure of Tyson Jackson.
• Outside linebacker Frank Zombo, 27, signed an undisclosed contract a day before the start of the league’s calander year, but the team didn’t announce his signing until later in the week. He offers depth behind starters Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Additionally, Zombo contributes on special teams.
The Chiefs in February took care of long snapper Thomas Gafford, 31, and tight end Richard Gordon, who turns 27 in June.
Gafford, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, signed a one-year, $703,000 deal.
Gordon, then a restricted free agent, signed a one-year, $645,000 contract.
The well-documented Emmanuel Sanders fiasco from Saturday night has a side effect outside of the Chiefs’ inability to sign the wide receiver.
For a quick review, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported the Chiefs and Sanders reached an agreement in principle. But Sanders told reporters during his introductory presser after signing with the Denver Broncos no official agreement was in place with the Chiefs.
Ultimately, only two parties truly know what happened during that process and one side isn’t talking, at least on record.
Meanwhile, the fallout is simple.
While the Chiefs were in negotiations with Sanders and his agent, Steve Weinberg, throughout Saturday, wide receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell signed with the New England Patriots.
Had the Chiefs known Weinberg was also in ongoing negotiations with other teams, as has been reported, the brain trust at One Arrowhead Drive could’ve diverted attention elsewhere.
By carrying on like they thought they had a deal in place with a wide receiver set to replace Dexter McCluster and who also offered versatility as a returner, the Chiefs lost safety/returner Quintin Demps to the Giants on Saturday night.
Not signing Sanders proved bad enough on offense where he would’ve bolstered wide receiver depth.
But the Chiefs special teams is now void of two returners in Demps and McCluster, both of whom were vital contributors to a return game that established an NFL single-season record for highest kickoff return average with 29.9 yards in 2013.
McCluster made the Pro Bowl and was named a second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press as a punt returner, while Demps was named All-AFC as a returner by the Pro Football Writers of America.
The Chiefs currently have running back Knile Davis, who saw duty as a returner in 2013, and two players signed in the early offseason with special teams experience in wide receiver Weston Dressler, an import from the CFL, and running back Joe McKnight.