Free Agency is less than a month away and the Kansas City Chiefs are no doubt weighing their options when it comes to depth at each position. One position the Chiefs may need to consider is linebacker. Unfortunately, with a new defensive coordinator, the role of each player comes into question. Decisions can’t be based on what was accomplished recently, but on what each player can offer within the confines of a new system.
Nowhere is this glaring difference more evident than with the linebacker position. In some systems, linebackers drop into coverage. In other systems, linebackers may be asked to play a position on the field. Linebackers may be asked to press the line or rush the passer. It would be rare to find a linebacker that excels at all of the above. The Chiefs currently have eight linebackers on the roster.
- Cory Greenwood
- Tamba Hali
- Justin Houston
- Derrick Johnson
- Edgar Jones
- Brandon Siler
- Andy Studebaker
- Leon Williams
Let’s be honest about the current group and say that outside of Hali, Houston, and Johnson, none of these guys would likely start on any team in the NFL. The Chiefs drafted Houston two years ago, Greenwood three years ago, but the rest have five to eight years experience. If they were going to be starting caliber, that potential would have been evident before now. It’s time the Chiefs look to free agency and the Draft to better their depth at this position.
While there are no “Instant Successes” on the free agent market, there are several linebackers that have potential. Brian Urlacher is a big name, but at his age, with his injuries, may not be the best option. The Chiefs should look for a player on the rise, not in the twilight of his career. Anthony Spencer , OLB from Dallas was Franchised last year and had a great campaign in 2012. He recorded 11 sacks, which would was more than either Hali or Houston with 9 and 10 respectively. Because of his play, and the Cowboys financial situation, they may have to allow him to test the market. If this happens, he will probably be the most sought after linebacker. Spencer is an OLB, and since the Chiefs have Hali and Houston, one would have to consider if he is the best option.
Paul Kruger, Baltimore, Shaun Phillips, San Diego, Daryl Smith, Jacksonville, and Connor Barwin, Houston, are all free agent outside linebackers. Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati, plays middle linebacker and is also a free agent. Daryl Smith is used to playing in the 4-3, so probably isn’t the best fit for the Chiefs. Shaun Phillips is used to the 3-4, but at 32, may be past his prime. If the Chiefs are looking to add veteran leadership, Phillips would be a good option if San Diego doesn’t lock him up first. Connor Barwin is an interesting option because of his strength at getting to the QB. He doesn’t always get a sack, but the pressure is key.
As you can see, there aren’t a lot of options at linebacker in free agency, but the Chiefs need to get at least one. They also haven’t drafted a linebacker in two years, so they’ll probably look to pick up at least one or two in April.