View Full Version : Chiefs Michael Ash runs down some under-the-radar free agents

Hammock Parties
02-27-2009, 12:24 AM
I think Igor would be a great fit.


<table><tbody><tr><td valign="top">With their team having tons of available cap room and plenty of holes to fill, Chiefs fans have spent the last several months looking forward to the upcoming free agency period. Today the wait is officially over.
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But unfortunately for those who had visions of Julius Peppers (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662071) and Terrell Suggs (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662175) dancing in their heads, the amount of impact players who will be available in free agency has dried up considerably over the last few weeks. Other than the likes of Albert Haynesworth (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3671215), Ray Lewis (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662152), and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3661616) – none of whom figure to draw much interest from the Chiefs – you’d be hard pressed to come up with any big name players who will be hitting the open market.

As a result, many of the top spots on free agency wish-lists have begun to feature some of the league’s lesser-known players instead of the game-changers most people wanted to sign. But even some of those second-tier players have now been eliminated from the discussion. Channing Crowder (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3642676), for example, was a name gaining some steam among Chiefs fans until he was re-signed Wednesday night by the Miami Dolphins.

Those who hoped for the Chiefs to make a “big splash” must come to terms with the fact that this year’s free agency pool just isn’t all that deep. But even though plenty of options may have been removed from the table, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any players out there who could help the Chiefs. In no particular order, here’s a look at my top five choices.

Jason Brown (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662098) – C (Baltimore)

Brown is the only player on my list that the Chiefs may need to act quickly on if they hope to sign him. A two year starter with the Ravens, he appears to be a casualty of the fact that Baltimore had so many of their defensive stars – Lewis, Suggs, and Bart Scott (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662170) – up for free agency this year.

Having played both center and guard, Brown would be a considerable upgrade to the interior of the Chiefs’ offensive line, and he’s still just 25 years old. Many teams are expected to be in the mix for his services, but if the Chiefs are interested in him, they certainly have the available cap room to put themselves into the mix.

Igor Olshansky (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3628827) - DE (San Diego)

You may recall that Olshansky was drafted out of the University of Oregon in the second round of the 2004 draft. The fact isn’t particularly noteworthy in and of itself, but one pick after San Diego took Olshansky, the Chiefs drafted his linemate, Junior Siavii (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=2475302). The latter was ultimately a huge bust, of course, while Olshansky went on to become a solid player in the Chargers’ 3-4 defense.

The obvious question, then, is why are the Chargers letting him go? It’s fair to say that Olshansky never became a game-changer, but he still appeared to be an important cog in their defense.

Prior to the 2008 season, San Diego re-signed defensive end Luis Castillo (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=4189250) to a lengthy and lucrative contract extension. But to compare their stats over the last few years, it’s difficult to find anywhere where Castillo stands out over Olshansky to any great degree. Castillo does have a 14.5 to 11.0 advantage in career sacks despite playing one fewer season. But after posting a career high of seven sacks in 2006, Castillo hasn’t reached the three-sack mark in either of his two seasons since.

During 2008, Castillo had 39 tackles and 1.5 sacks compared to Olshansky’s 29 tackles and two sacks, and Olshansky saw his playing time drastically reduced down the stretch. He also posted better numbers than Castillo in the Chargers’ two postseason games.

Perhaps the contract given to Castillo hasn’t made it cost-effective for San Diego to keep Olshansky on board. But their choice may ultimately be to someone else’s advantage. Even if the Chiefs don’t switch to a 3-4 defense immediately, it’s conceivable that Olshansky could play at defensive tackle in a 4-3 until the change is made.

Michael Boley (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3661833) - LB (Atlanta)

Much has been written about the Chiefs’ need for linebackers, but there seems to be little discussion of Boley. Twelve short months ago he was considered a rising star in the league, a talented player on the verge of breaking out as a Pro Bowler. During the 2007 season he registered 109 tackles (93 solo), three sacks, and three interceptions as the Falcons’ strongside linebacker.

Then a new regime came to Atlanta, changed the defensive scheme, and Boley’s production dropped to the point that he was replaced as a starter over the final three games of the season. Under new head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons adapted a less-aggressive, more read-and-react scheme that Boley clearly wasn’t suited for.

Without knowing what kind of defense the Chiefs plan to run, it’s obviously somewhat difficult to discuss how Boley might fit into their system. But as long as they don’t plan to use a scheme that mirrors what Altanta ran this year – and I’d be extremely surprised if they did – Boley is a highly talented player who may be available at a bargain because of his disappointing season.

Antonio Smith (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3628942) - DE (Arizona)

Considered by The Sporting News’ “RealScouts” as the league’s best under-the-radar free agent, Smith is a perfect example of the type of player the Chiefs should try to stock up on this offseason. He’s still young (27), has some potential, and isn’t likely to demand a big contract.

Plus, with both coordinators from Arizona’s Super Bowl team now in Kansas City, you have to assume they’ll have an eye on the players they’re familiar with. Since the Cardinals played a hybrid defense under Clancy Pendergast, Smith should also be able to fit into either a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive scheme. Coincidentally, it’s been reported that Smith is drawing interest from the Chargers as a replacement for Igor Olshansky.

Smith’s 3.5 sacks a year ago won’t excite anyone, but it’s worth noting that he accomplished that total while only starting 10 games. He won’t single-handedly bring improvement to the Chiefs’ abysmal pass rush, but his production was higher than Tamba Hali (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698856)’s three sacks, and Hali started 15 games.

Even with their copious amounts of cap space, a roster as depleted as the Chiefs’ won’t be rebuilt in a single offseason. But if that money yields a crop of solid but unspectacular players like Smith, that task will slowly start to get easier.

Kurt Warner (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3628961) – QB (Arizona)

There are several reasons why this signing is highly unlikely, but the mere possibility is fun to speculate about -- if only for the panic it creates among the legions of Tyler Thigpen supporters. (I’m only kidding.)

The chance of Warner wanting to finish his career with a team that’s only won six games over the last two seasons is, to say the least, pretty remote. But if his relationship with Todd Haley combined with the Chiefs’ enormous cap room could overcome that obstacle, Warner would make a lot of sense for a team sitting with the #3 pick in the draft.

Imagine a scenario where the Chiefs signed Warner, drafted a quarterback like Mark Sanchez (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3654542) – who was only a starter for one season in college – and allowed their quarterback of the future to sit under the learning tree for a season or two. Warner has become known for mentoring his younger teammates, most notably Eli Manning (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=4208108) in New York and Matt Leinart (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3628891) in Arizona.

Of course, the fact that Warner has already gone through a similar situation with the Giants raises yet another obstacle to something like this happening. He’ll probably want to finish his career as the unquestioned starter of a team, not as a stopgap who’s keeping the seat warm for someone else.

And this scenario also has it’s drawbacks for the Chiefs – namely the fact that it may tip their hand to their draft plans come April. If they were to sign Warner, it would be clear to everyone that he wouldn’t be a long-term answer, perhaps giving away that the Chiefs planned to use their first pick on a quarterback.

Judging by the newfound secrecy surrounding the team, we can safely assume that Scott Pioli (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3933332) doesn’t want anyone to think they know what the Chiefs will do with the third overall pick.

But, hey, it’s fun to speculate.
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'Hamas' Jenkins
02-27-2009, 12:26 AM
Brown is going to be bid up to the point where he's not a good value relative to his contract, but we have enough cap room to absorb a contract like that.

02-27-2009, 12:28 AM
Igor could be interesting. Brown is going to get crazy money.

02-27-2009, 12:43 AM
I'm thinking a few of those aren't exactly "under the radar". :)

02-27-2009, 01:29 AM
Looks like he copied OTW58 post.

Hammock Parties
02-27-2009, 01:34 AM
Looks like he copied OTW58 post.

For all you know....Michael Ash IS on the Warpath.

02-27-2009, 01:36 AM
For all you know....Michael Ash IS on the Warpath.

No he isnt.

02-27-2009, 01:40 AM
Mike Ash
Mike Ash
Anybody seen Mike Ash

02-27-2009, 01:48 AM

02-27-2009, 08:29 AM
Story from yesterday, so some of the news is old, but it lists more players that would be considered NFL bargains.

Bargain hunters: Free agents could help Lions
John Niyo / The Detroit News
Having spent far too many years in the NFL's low-rent district, the Lions are preaching middle-class values as they begin another new era. Starting with free agency -- the frenzied signing period kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Friday -- the motto in Allen Park is "right player, right price" with a spread-the-wealth strategy borne of necessity.
Coming off an 0-16 season with a roster that's lacking in almost every area, there's plenty of money -- the Lions are among the league leaders with nearly $35 million in salary-cap space -- but a pages-long shopping list. So as would-be Super Bowl contenders engage in bidding wars for Pro Bowlers like Ray Lewis or Albert Haynesworth -- at a premium price in a thin free-agent market -- the Lions might have other ideas.
"It's hard to say a number you wouldn't go past, because I think the market's going to dictate some of that," Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said. "The important thing for us, though, is that we can't put all our eggs in one basket. We have a number of needs, offensively and on the defensive side. We're gonna try to address as many of those as we can. We're not one player away, you know?"

Particularly on defense, where the Lions ranked last in the NFL and gave up a whopping 517 points last season. The roster overhaul involves a change in scheme, not just talent, as the team looks to get bigger as well as better.
"We're coming off an 0-16 season and we had several guys starting for us who were just kind of one-year Band-Aids on a position defensively," said Mayhew, who cut a handful of former starters and opted not to re-sign the bulk of the team's pending free agents. "Now we have to go out and fill those needs, as well as the other needs that just come up naturally. So we've got a lot of holes on defense."
Some will be filled through the draft, as the Lions own five of the first 82 picks in April. In the meantime, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the free-agent targets will fit a profile that helped build a winner in Tennessee, where he spent most of the last decade as defensive coordinator.
"Those mid-level free agents -- they were our 'middle class,' so to speak, the blue-collar guys that had a lot to do with turning that team around," Schwartz said. "Those were good lessons learned there."
Like most new coaching staffs, he'll likely pluck some of his former players in free agency. With veteran coordinators in Gunther Cunningham and Scott Linehan -- and new senior personnel executive Shack Harris -- there are other connections.
"We have guys on our staff from Kansas City, St. Louis, Tennessee, Tampa Bay," Schwartz said. "You are going to use every bit of information you can, and knowing those guys, it does give us a little bit of an advantage."
As for the obvious disadvantage -- downtrodden Detroit isn't a particularly attractive destination at the moment -- Schwartz isn't buying it.
"A couple years ago (in Tennessee), we weren't a very attractive place to be," he said. "Now they are. I think players know that."
Beginning Friday, the Lions will find out if he's right. Here's a position-by-position look at the marketplace:
Offensive line
Four-fifths of the starters appear to be in place, but  there's a hole at left guard and precious little depth. A big mauler like Daniel Loper (Tennessee) or Elton Brown (Arizona) could be the target, especially if the Lions plan to add a starter in the draft.
At guard,  Jason Brown (Baltimore) is the hot commodity among the interior linemen -- a center who could move to guard and figures to get paid accordingly -- but he'll have plenty of suitors. Chris Kemoeatu , Pittsburgh's 340-pound starting left guard, is another big target, as is tackle Stacy Andrews (Cincinnati), who is coming off knee surgery and might end up at guard somewhere.
If the Lions are serious about shifting incumbent left  tackle Jeff Backus to guard, perhaps they'll bid for Jacksonville's Khalif Barnes , a free agent rarity as a starting left tackle.
 Daunte Culpepper 's the likely starter for 2009, but who's his backup -- or the long-term answer, for that matter? The draft could answer the latter question (Matt Stafford ?), or perhaps the Lions will make a play for New England's Matt Cassel in a trade. But assuming Jon Kitna is released and Dan Orlovsky finds a new home, the Lions might seek a veteran backup in free agency.
 Kurt Warner (Arizona), Kerry Collins (Tennessee) and Jeff Garcia (Tampa Bay) are the biggest names, but they're not headed to Detroit. Byron Leftwich (Pittsburgh), a Shack Harris pick in Jacksonville, and Chris Simms (Tennessee) might get better offers. But how about Buffalo's J.P. Losman , a former first-round pick who might fit Scott Linehan 's system?
Running back
With  Kevin Smith proving himself as a rookie starter last year, the Lions aren't looking to pay another back a starter's salary. But every team needs a tandem today, so the Lions, who'll let Rudi Johnson walk, need one in free agency or the draft.
Veterans  Fred Taylor , Deuce McAllister and Warrick Dunn are on the market, but Correll Buckhalter (Philadelphia) would be a terrific pickup here. If not, a runner who's a solid return man like Arizona's J.J. Arrington might make sense.'
Wide receiver
 Calvin Johnson 's a budding star, but he needs a supporting cast. John Standeford , a decent possession receiver, is one of a few options on the roster as the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver, but who will be the Lions' No. 2?
It’s a thin free-agent crop, meaning No. 1 targets  T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Nate Washington will be pricey. Devery Henderson (New Orleans) or Ronald Curry (Oakland) could thrive in Linehan’s vertical passing attack, while second-tier receivers like underachieiving Reggie Williams (Jacksonville) or the Titans’ Justin McCareins and Brandon Jones are known commodities to the new staff.
Tight end/fullback
The Lions are trying to get fullback  Moran Norris re-signed before he becomes a free agent. At tight end, Michael Gaines is the incumbent starter, with special-teams ace Casey FitzSimmons as the backup.
But an upgrade's a possibility, if not a necessity. Veteran  tight end/fullback Jim Kleinsasser , a big-time blocker who knows Linehan's offense, will get lots of attention if the Vikings don't lock him up. If not, a depth addition like Tony Curtis (Dallas) could be an option.
Defensive line
Will they or won't they? Depends on whom you ask, but the  obvious connection between Schwartz and Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth , the biggest prize in this year's free-agent class, certainly begs the question: Will the Lions get in the bidding? Probably not. Haynesworth is seeking a huge contract -- Washington and Tampa Bay might be willing -- and his spotty history makes it a risky proposition. But he'd be the monster in the middle many teams, including the Lions, are lacking.
Looking to shore up the run defense, the Lions could pursue  a veteran tackle like Grady Jackson (Atlanta) or a younger player like Colin Cole (Green Bay) or Dewayne Robertson (Denver). But while a top-dollar end like Chris Canty (Dallas) isn't a likely target, San Diego's Igor Olshansky -- a versatile run-stuffer who could shift inside -- would be worth the investment.
Again, it's a glaring hole for the Lions.  Ernie Sims is entrenched at weak-side linebacker, but Paris Lenon has vacated the middle and Jordon Dizon is likely viewed as a backup on the strong side.
Forget the big-ticket items like  Ray Lewis -- and probably Bart Scott , too, though he is a Detroiter. Jonathan Vilma (New Orleans) also might be out of reach. Instead, maybe the answer is 10-year vet Mike Peterson , who butted heads with Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio but still can be a productive anchor at MLB. New Lions personnel exec Shack Harris spent the last six years with him in Jacksonville.
At outside linebacker,  Angelo Crowell is an intriguing option at a discounted price coming off knee surgery, and the Lions were interested in Napoleon Harris last fall before he signed with Minnesota. Arizona's Monty Beisel , who played for Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham in Kansas City, might be a good depth and special-teams addition.
After the Lions cut loose last year's big additions --  Brian Kelly and Leigh Bodden -- the top two corners on the roster right now are Travis Fisher and Keith Smith . So Detroit's looking for at least one starter, and some depth, in free agency.
The best of the bunch Pittsburgh's  Bryant McFadden and Washington's DeAngelo Hall probably will stay put. But for the right (high) price, Buffalo's Jabari Greer or Atlanta's Domonique Foxworth could be had. If not, try the St. Louis Rams Ron Bartell , a Detroit native and ex-CMU standout. Or maybe Detroit could turn to familiar faces in ex-Lions Dre Bly (a cap casualty in Denver) and Andre Goodman .
But this is an area where head coach  Jim Schwartz might raid his old cupboard in Tennessee. The Titans' Chris Carr , Eric King and Vincent Fuller are versatile players who'd be welcome in Detroit, the first two at corner and Fuller at safety as well. The bonus with Carr: He was the Titans' primary return man, and that's a primary concern for the Lions.
The Lions dumped  Dwight Smith with a year left on his contract, so there's a void at strong safety. Sean Jones (Cleveland) would be a terrific -- and young -- upgrade, as would Gibril Wilson , whose Bay-area homecoming with Oakland was a flop a year after he won a Super Bowl with the Giants. Another coveted guy: undersized and underrated Jim Leonhard (Baltimore), who played a starring role in the playoffs and could play strong safety and return punts.
Hard-nosed tacklers such as  Yeremiah Bell (Miami) and Jermaine Phillips (Tampa Bay) also could be there if they're not re-signed by the deadline.