Offseason Forecast: Kansas City Chiefs


With the offseason officially underway, Around The League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Kansas City Chiefs.

With the offseason underway, Around The League explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

What's changing?

Relatively little. The coaching staff and front office return intact. The offensive line will likely be tweaked, but there won't be major changes in personnel on either side of the ball. It will be interesting to see if the shift toward a pass-heavy offense down the stretch carries over to the 2014 season. Alex Smith didn't use Andy Reid's full playbook until the middle of last season. There should be more trust in the aerial attack this time around.

Biggest free agents

» LT Branden Albert: General manager John Dorsey is still hoping to complete a long-term deal with Albert before free agency starts in March. As the best blindside protector available, Albert will likely land a pile of cash from the Dolphins or Cardinals if he does hit the open market. That gives him the leverage in his situation.

» DE Tyson Jackson: Jackson has shown gradual improvement every season since being selected third overall in the 2009 NFL Draft, but still comes up wanting as a pass rusher. He's a plus 3-4 run-stuffer who works best in a rotation.

» WR/PR Dexter McCluster: Even if he's never carved out a Darren Sproles-type role on offense, McCluster is coming off a career year as a punt returner and No. 3 receiver. Andy Reid has always been a fan, so perhaps the sides can reach an agreement on a three-year deal worth between $8 million and $9 million.

Other key free agents: G Jon Asamoah, S Kendrick Lewis, CB Dunta Robinson, LB Akeem Jordan, OL Geoff Schwartz, S Quintin Demps

What they need

It's tricky to assess the true needs because this team went from over-reliance on defense in the first eight games to engaging in shootouts from November through January. The offensive line will have to be addressed with the returns of Albert, Asamoah and Schwartz up in the air. Unless Dwayne Bowe can regain 2010 to 2011 form, there's a need for a playmaking No. 1 receiver as well as a pass-catching tight end. With pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston returning to full health, the defense simply needs young legs for depth now and starting jobs down the line.

On the way out?

The Chiefs have already jettisoned cornerback Dunta Robinson's $3.2 million salary. There are no more obvious candidates for release unless the coaching staff decides tight end Anthony Fasano and backup quarterback Chase Daniel are more luxury than necessity. Dumping Brandon Flowers after his first disappointing season would leave $7 million in dead money against the cap.

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Offseason crystal ball

Unless they wield the franchise tag for a second consecutive year, the Chiefs should be prepared to get outbid for Albert. They can pick up a young wide receiver early in the draft and rely on 2013 third-round selection Travis Kelce for an upgrade at tight end. With little cap space available to chase outside free agents, the offseason priorities will be long-term extensions for Alex Smith and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry.

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