Clark Hunt Sets Groundwork For Low Key Offseason

With an uncapped 2010 on the horizon,  many fans believe the Kansas City Chiefs will be spending a lot of money in free agency.  In today’s Kansas City Star, owner Clark Hunt seems to be trying to prepare fans for another offseason without a big free agent addition.

“It’s going to be very unpredictable,” Hunt said.  “We haven’t been through a year like this when we had this set of rules.  On the one hand, there’s no salary cap, which would lead you to believe there will be a lot of activity.  Logic would tell you that.  But there are all these restrictions on who’s a free agent and which teams can participate in free-agency.

“A lot of teams, the Chiefs included, are having to look at it from a lot of different angles.  The rules we’ve had don’t apply.”

The players believed that a season without a salary cap would result in a flurry of high-dollar contracts, but that probably won’t materialize.  While teams can spend as much on player salaries as they want in 2010, they also won’t be required to spend a minimum as before.

Players need six seasons of NFL service instead of four to become unrestricted free agents.  Dozens of players leaguewide are scheduled to become restricted free agents instead.

The Chiefs have needs at several positions and might like to sign a big-play wide receiver such as, say, Miles Austin of Dallas.  Under the old rules, Austin would have been an unrestricted free agent, but he now will be restricted instead.

“The ones who won’t be (unrestricted) free agents because of a change in the rules, they’re the ones entering the prime years of their careers, and a lot of times they’re the hot free agents,” Hunt said.  “That’s where a lot of the heavy activity has been in the past.  So the dynamics on the market are going to be completely different.”

Because top available players will be scarce, they could be the objects of intense bidding wars.  The Chiefs showed little interest in getting involved in such battles last year in free-agency.

So free-agency this year for the Chiefs could wind up looking like last year, when they signed several free agents but most for low-dollar contracts.  Many were role players, and few had significant impact.

“I would think numerically we’ll be very active,” Hunt said.  “I can’t say specifically we’d sign what’s regarded as a high-priced or high-demand free agent.  We’ll certainly look at every one of those players.  (General manager Scott Pioli) has my blessing to pursue them if he thinks they’re the right fit for the football team.”

The new free-agency rules are just one reason it’s a good year for the Chiefs to believe in building through the draft.  This year’s draft is considered the deepest in years, and the Chiefs will have three of the top 50 picks.

“Long-term, successful football teams are built through the draft,” Hunt said.  “Having said that, there’s always an opportunity to fill in holes through free-agency.  You can look to the Patriots of this past decade as a great example of a team that built primarily through the draft but weren’t afraid through trades or free-agency to go out and fill in with veteran players who ended up being big contributors for them.”

Uh oh.

Anyone that thought the Chiefs would take a shot at players like Julius Peppers, Carlos Dansby or Vince Wilfork should start thinking otherwise.  I understand there are a much smaller amount of unrestricted free agents (212 to be exact) available but if Clark Hunt thinks he is going to sell the fans this offseason strictly on draft picks he’s nuts.

I’m the last person that thinks you need to always spend a ton of money on a shiny new toy, just ask Daniel Snyder how that has worked out for him.  It’s just hard to imagine after so many difficult seasons and a half empty Arrowhead that the Chiefs won’t be first in line for at least one of the big names available for a position of need.

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