Free Agency Looms Large For Chiefs

AP

With free agency set to begin at the stroke of midnight Friday, NFL teams fresh from the combine are hoping to land an impact free agent or two. So what will the Kansas City Chiefs do?

There is no question that the Chiefs have plenty of needs as free agency opens. Last year, the team signed several second-tier players, and few were productive. The exceptions were safety Mike Brown and wide receiver Chris Chambers. Both could have an impact in 2010 if the Chiefs retain their services.

After finishing 4-12 last season, the Chiefs will be looking for better results this year. Head coach Todd Haley told reporters at the Combine that the worst is behind him in regards to his football team. Now armed with a brand new coaching staff, he has freedom in knowing he survived his rookie season and can look forward to adding the parts that will define the rebuilding task ahead. That will come into focus this weekend.

But the Chiefs won't overspend. They'll be wise in who they sign or trade for. So who are they looking at?

RB Darren Sproles - According to a team source, the running back/returner, who is parting ways with the San Diego Chargers, has caught the Chiefs' eye. The former Olathe North and Kansas State Graduate would like to return home. A team source told Warpaint Illustrated that Sproles could be a top target.

The Chiefs have a starter in Jamaal Charles but adding Sproles would give Kansas City another threat on offense and special teams. Right now the Chiefs have nobody who can return punts and kickoffs. Charles has returned kickoffs in the past, but the coaching staff would prefer he isn't overworked.

QB Brady Quinn - Per our team source, new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is intent on convincing general manager Scott Pioli that the Chiefs should acquire the former Notre Dame quarterback. Per a source in Cleveland, the Browns are willing to ship Quinn for a second-day draft pick. If that's the case, expect several teams to enter the Quinn sweepstakes.

Weis wants another quarterback in Kansas City because he's not sold on the oft-injured Brodie Croyle and has some reservations about incumbent starter Matt Cassel. Weis told our source that he was not sold on Cassel's toughness.

Regardless of whether Cassel remains KC's starter, the Chiefs must solve the backup quarterback issue and Croyle may not be sticking around. The rumor is that Croyle could be traded to the Buffalo Bills, although the Bills are hoping to pick one of the top quarterbacks in April's draft. To do that they'll have to trade up from the ninth pick, however.

DE Julius Peppers - Our source told us that the Chiefs would like to offer Peppers a contract, but are not inclined to over-pay for his services and would prefer a short-term deal loaded with incentives. Peppers' market value has been widely debated since the Carolina Panthers indicated they'd cut him instead of placing the franchise tag on him.

Peppers is a no-brainer for the Chiefs but they, like many other NFL teams, are worried about his streaky, one-play-on, one-play-off mentality. That will likely prevent him from earning a break-the-bank type contract. The Washington Redskins appear to be the leader for Peppers' services. Team owner Daniel Snyder gave head coach Mike Shanahan a huge contract and most likely will overspend for Peppers.

The Chiefs will need to convince Peppers to take less money while showing him that Kansas City is a better option than Washington. That won't be easy.

WR Anquan Boldin - An NFL source confirmed that the Arizona Cardinals receiver is on the trading block. Arizona unsuccessfully tried to move him a year ago but part of the reason was they demanded multiple first-day picks. Because of the depth at the wide receiver position in April's draft, a high second-round choice might be enough to get a deal done.

However, the team who lands Boldin will have to award him a multi-year contract with a signing bonus in the $20 million range. The Chiefs can afford that. Say what you want about Boldin, but he would be a great fit for Kansas City. The edge in this deal for the Chiefs is Haley. He has firsthand knowledge of Boldin's skill set and could be the deciding factor in Boldin resurrecting his career.

LB Karlos Dansby - There were rumblings that the Chiefs had some interest in the linebacker, but our sources indicate that his price tag could be too high. Right now the Miami Dolphins are the front runner and are prepared to make him one of the highest-paid linebackers in the NFL, per a league source. If that's the case, he won't be a Chief.

But like Boldin, Dansby has familiarity with Haley. If nothing else that should afford the Chiefs a chance to make a pitch. But unless general manager Scott Pioli is willing to pay Dansby handsomely, a deal doesn't look likely.

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