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Free Agency

More by Ed Fulda
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Well, as of 12:01 am Friday the NFL Free Agency period started. Not surprisingly, Duane Clemons and Dan Stryzinski are now ex-Chiefs. Trent Green restructured his contract (mildly surprising, but not a shocker) to remain in KC. Mike Maslowski and Gary Stills also inked new deals to stay in the Red & Gold. All-in-all, a fairly quiet start compared to the angst that teams like the Browns had to go through to get down to the cap limit.

Given the number of new faces needed to rebuild the KC defense, one has to wonder if the Chiefs did enough cutting. They're going to need a lot of money to sign the type of players that might make a difference. Outside Linebacker is high on the wish list. Cornerback needs to be addressed as well. Oh, and while we're at it, don't forget another Defensive End, a new punter, a quality back up for Priest Holmes, and a new long snapper. Obviously, there are too many areas of need. The trick will be to fill one or two of the most pressing needs with quality free agents and hope that they can fill the rest via the draft and "walk-ons."

The only problem with this plan is making sure that the team actually signs "quality" free agents. Just because a player is a star with his old team doesn't mean that he's going to perform at the same level with the new one. There have been 25 or so "high profile" players signed by KC as free agents and what happened to them once they arrived in KC illustrates just what a crap shoot free agency is.

Let's start with the "A" players: Everybody knew what Marcus Allen and James Hasty were capable of. They didn't disappoint. Saleaumua was a young player who looked like he might develop into a solid back up player while he was in Detroit. He developed into far more than that in KC. No one was sure what Priest Holmes would do in KC. It was expected that he would contribute in some fashion, but he has performed phenomenally.

The "B" list: Mark Collins, David Krieg, Leslie O'Neal, Glenn Parker, and Joe Phillips all turned in solid performances while they played in KC. Marvcus Patton has been doing a solid job at Middle Linebacker since he came over from the Redskins.

The "C" list players all blew hot-and-cold due to injuries, missing components, or lack of desire. Derrick Alexander turned in three good-to-excellent years before tanking it in the 2001 season. Elvis Grbac had a good arm and did some nice things on the field, but showed everyone (except Baltimore) that his leadership skills left a lot to be desired. Jeff Blackshear (injuries), Duane Clemons (inconsistencies), Jeff Criswell (injuries), Todd Sauerbrun (erratic), and Dan Williams (lazy) would have looked better in the final grading if they hadn't signed such large contracts.

Lower on the food chain are Lew Bush, Chester McGlockton, and Dan Stryzinski. McGlockton turned out to be a lazy bum who only played about every other down. Bush only gets a "D" because of special teams play. Stryzinski totally tanked it last season and has now been released.

Ray Crockett, Chris Dishman, Carlton Gray, and Brett Perriman were disastrous signings. Nothing can be said to sugar coat the dreadful performances turned in by this group.

Lastly, a grade of "incomplete" has to be given to last year's high-profile signee, Johnnie Morton. Based solely on his on-field performance, he deserves an "F." However, he was bothered by injuries and seemed to have difficulty picking up the new offense. Since he was signed to a seven-year contract, the Chiefs really have no choice but to give him another chance.

Let's hope that this year's group pads the "A" list instead of joining Crockett, Dishman, Gray and Perriman.

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