General Manager John Dorsey and company haven't exactly endeared themselves to Chiefs nation after the first few weeks of free agency. After letting a slew of players go and doing little else thus far to shore up concern areas, fans have understandably jumped to the conclusion that the focus is cutting back spending rather than improving the team. However, this regime has already shown its ability to succeed with under-the-radar talent and depth. There are a few reasons why I believe the Chiefs still have a very good chance to take a step forward in 2014.
Supremely Valuable Losses?
At first glance, yes, it seems like the team is just hemorrhaging players. Left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dexter McCluster, guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, as well as some other supporting role players were lost basically from the word go. But look a bit closer at these names. Albert was injury-prone, McCluster was valuable as a kick returner but didn't offer much else, and the other O-line losses are solid but not impossible to replace. The Chiefs lost a lot of players quickly, for sure. But they still have plenty of time to get a better value for their money and very possibly improve the team in the process.
An Eye for Underrated & High Value Players
Going into the 2013 season, many had the Chiefs going 8-8 or 9-7 at best. They exceeded these expectations by being well-coached and by getting contributions from players that were unknown to most fans. An example of this was Marcus Cooper, a rookie drafted in the seventh round by the 49ers and cut by the team before the season began. Cooper didn't set the world on fire by any means and in fact was chided by many as the season wore on, but the fact is that he was an important piece of the puzzle for a defense that turned out to be better than expected early in the season. Another player that I think made more of an impact than most people realize is defensive end Mike DeVito. He rarely made big, show-stopping plays, but was dependable in getting a key tackle or just being in the right spot at the right time. There is reason to believe that the Chiefs' front office has some more of these low-risk, high-reward players in store for the 2014 season. It may even be CB Chris Owens, DT Vance Walker, or LB Joe Mays- all of whom the Chiefs very quietly signed during the beginning stages of free agency.
2014 NFL Draft
Andy Reid has gone on record as saying he doesn't believe free agency is as important as the NFL draft. The Kansas City Chiefs will certainly be putting a lot of stock into this year's draft as they continue to look for an injection of talent into their high-need areas (wide receivers, additional pass rushers, safeties, offensive lineman). While the Chiefs will not have nearly as high of a pick as they did last year, the place that they are picking (23rd) is often a great spot for underrated players that have huge impacts for good teams. They could go in a number of different directions with their first round selection, but the beauty of the draft is that talent can be found in any of the seven rounds. Don't sleep on the draft as being a huge determining factor for success in the short-term as well as long-term. The good news for Chiefs fans is that the draft hasn't happened yet, and there's a chance the Chiefs markedly improve their team through it.
It's undeniably tough to accept the major cuts (had to happen), but when you take a step back and look at what the Kansas City Chiefs have and what is still to come, there is plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the team going forward.