Chiefs Free Agency Notebook

Posted Feb 9, 2011

Teams are free to release players; 25 Chiefs await word on free agency classification

The official list sits at 25. It’s a number that represents approximately 47% of Kansas City’s 53-man roster. Some of the 25 are starters and one received a Pro Bowl invite.

These 25 players represent members of the Chiefs currently sitting without contracts for 2011.

The total seems high; inflated, actually. A number of these players wouldn’t have sniffed NFL free agency under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and it’s likely that many of them won’t see the open market under a new agreement either.

But for the sake of being accurate, contract questions surround 25 Chiefs due to an unsettled labor situation.

Until a new CBA exists, exclusive rights free agents (ERFAs), restricted free agents (RFAs) and unrestricted free agents (UFAs) don’t technically exist. For now, they’re all the same. They are simply players without contracts for next season.

The current CBA expires on March 4th. If a new deal isn’t in place, free agency won’t begin. If an agreement is reached, what stipulations (if any) will change regarding the franchise tag and/or free agency categorizations for 2011?

A total of 20 Chiefs ended the 2009 season without contracts, but only seven (35%) of those players went on to enter the open market. That’s because a number of Kansas City’s younger players were protected through ERFA or RFA status. Others, like Mike Vrabel, signed an extension prior to the start of free agency.

Similar stipulations will likely decrease Kansas City’s current 25-man total when a new CBA is reached.

In the end, the Chiefs lost just five players through free agency last year – G Andy Alleman, S Mike Brown, TE Sean Ryan, OL Wade Smith and WR Bobby Wade.

While the status of this year’s free agent market remains idle, some things remain the same regardless of ongoing CBA negotiations. One of those is the ability to release players.

Now that the Super Bowl has concluded, teams across the league are now free to start releasing players. Thus far, the action has been relatively quiet. Former Chiefs tackle Jordan Black has been the only player released according to Jacksonville released Black on Monday.

Last year, the Chiefs released five players before the start of free agency. Linebackers Weston Dacus and Justin Rogers were released right away (February 8th), followed by G Mike Goff (February 24th), RB Dantrell Savage (March 3rd) and WR Devard Darling (March 3rd). All five finished the 2009 season on injured reserve.

None of those players appeared on any 53-man roster last season and only one (Savage) even signed with another team. Savage was released by Carolina following training camp.

For now, teams must operate without a crystal ball, but the league has offered some guidance.

The NFL informed each of its 32 teams that they will be able to apply the franchise tags to players later this month. Teams may also make waiver claims and sign free agents off the street.

These are the 25 Chiefs currently without contracts for the 2011 season:

Offensive Players (12)

Quarterbacks (1): Brodie Croyle

Running Backs (3): Jackie Battle, Tim Castille, Mike Cox

Wide Receivers (2): Terrance Copper, Kevin Curtis

Tight Ends (2): Brad Cottam, Leonard Pope

Offensive Linemen (4): Rudy Niswanger, Ryan O’Callaghan, Barry Richardson, Casey Wiegmann

Defensive Players (13)

Defensive Linemen (3): Ron Edwards, Wallace Gilberry, Shaun Smith

Linebackers (5): Charlie Anderson, Cory Greenwood, Tamba Hali, Corey Mays, Mike Vrabel

Cornerbacks (3): Brandon Carr, Travis Daniels, Maurice Leggett

Safeties (2): Reshard Langford, Jon McGraw

*Note: Last offseason, due to the lack of a CBA, players had to wait six years before they hit unrestricted free agency. Under the current CBA (pre-2010 rules), free agency classifications broke down as follows…

Exclusive-Rights Free AgentZero to two years of NFL service. If tendered a contract offer by their old club, ERFAs have no choice but to re-sign and play for that team, or not play football at all.

Restricted Free AgentThree years of NFL service. RFAs are tendered contract offers at one of four different salary levels. Each level corresponds to a draft pick compensation amount for the old club if the player signs with a new team. Players can either re-sign with their old club or sign an offer sheet with a new team. The old club has seven days to match the offer from the new club and retain the player.

Unrestricted Free AgentFour or more years of NFL service. Players are free to sign with another club once the free agent signing period begins. Old clubs receive no compensation if a player signs elsewhere. Old clubs do have the option to place the franchise tag or transition tag on a player before their contract expires in the offseason.

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