KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs signed free agent linebacker Demorrio Williams to a five-year contract on Monday, a move that could knock Napoleon Harris out of the starting lineup.
The Chiefs have many holes to fill after a 4-12 season, particularly on the offensive line and defensive secondary, but linebacker seemed to be the least of their least concerns.
Kansas City signed Donnie Edwards and Harris before last season and the group was solid in 2007, combining for 338 tackles and 7.5 sacks.
Although he led the team with 123 tackles, the Chiefs were disappointed at times with Harris, who signed a six-year deal at middle linebacker. Kansas City also has concerns about Edwards' age. He turns 35 in April.
The 27-year-old Williams played four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, starting the past three at outside linebacker. He will likely be a starter on the outside in Kansas City, with Edwards moving to middle linebacker and Harris dropping to a backup role.
"Demorrio is an athletic young player who will help us both on defense and special teams," Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said in a statement. "He has played and started extensively, giving us a fourth experienced linebacker who fits our defensive scheme."
A fourth-round pick by Atlanta out of Nebraska in 2004, Williams had 2.5 sacks in 16 games -- one start -- his rookie season. He earned a starting job in training camp in 2005 and ranked second on the team with 132 tackles.
Williams started every game last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in the offseason, getting 78 tackles and two interceptions.
Hoyte signed with Dallas as a rookie free agent out of North Carolina State in 2006 and played 10 games, including nine starts, after converting from linebacker to fullback a month into the season.
He missed several games last season with a neck injury and was released by Dallas last week.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press