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Rolling the Dice With Free Agency

More by Ed Fulda
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The free agency period begins again in a little over a month. Anticipation is high among Chiefs fans that Carl Peterson will be able to snag a couple of studs to repair the defense. Don't bet the ranch on it. Free agency is a lot like rolling dice - that "seven" you're looking for all too often comes up as "snake eyes."

Since the free agent era started in the NFL just prior to the 1989 season, the Chiefs have signed maybe one hundred-or-so players from other teams. Most were signed to modest one and two year contracts and one in a while, one of these budget acquisitions really paid big dividends. For the most part though, the players were signed to provide depth and it really wasn't going to hurt the team financially if the player didn't pan out.

The "big name" signings are the ones that get all the press and rightfully so. These are the guys that get the fat contracts with multi-million dollar signing bonuses. These are the guys that are supposed to single-handedly take the team to the next level. Rolling "snake eyes" too often with this group can kill a team. That holds true whether the free agent is from another team or one of your own that you decide is worth paying big bucks to retain.

Having said all that, it's time to take a look back at the players the Chiefs have signed over the years. Where was the money well spent? Where was the money essentially flushed down the drain?

In my mind, there have been eight players signed from other teams that are/were worth every penny of the contracts they were signed to. Those players were P Louis Aguiar, RB Marcus Allen, long-snapper Kendall Gammon, CB James Hasty, RB Priest Holmes, DT Dan Saleaumua, C Mike Webster, and C Casey Wiegmann.

WR Derrick Alexander, PK Morten Anderson, S Martin Bayless, WR J.J. Birden, TE Keith Cash, CB Mark Collins, T Jeff Criswell, QB Elvis Grbac, LB George Jamison, QB David Kreig, and LB Marvcus Patton were decent acquisitions overall but definitely a notch or two below the top group.

On the other end of the spectrum, G Jeff Blackshear, LB Lew Bush, CB Chris Dishman, CB Dexter McCleon, WR Brett Perriman, P Todd Sauerbrun, P Dan Stryzinski, and LB Terry Wooden were absolutely dismal failures.

Not quite dismal, but certainly not worth the money, were DE Duane Clemons, DE Vonnie Holliday, DT Chester McGlockton, WR Johnnie Morton, and WR Andre Rison.

The jury is still out on LB Shawn Barber, T-G Chris Bober, and DT Lional Dalton. Barber, so far, has been hovering very near "not quite dismal" while Bober and Dalton appear headed into the "decent" category.

I'm not going to comment much on the players the Chiefs decided to retain except to point out that Carl Peterson & Company have never missed the boat as completely as they did with the mass re-signing they did before the start of this season. The decision to re-sign Jerome Woods, Greg Wesley, Eric Hicks, John Browning, and William Bartee to long-term deals was a complete disaster. The Chiefs will be severely hampered in what they can do in free agency this year because of the money tied up as a result of these signings.

Finally, Carl & company need to be taken out to the woodshed for one player they decided not to re-sign. That player was LB Donnie Edwards, who has continued his high-level of play for the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs could have kept him for the same price they ended up wasting it on Shawn Barber.

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