Everything leading up to the Chiefs player acquisition phase of the 2010 offseason seems to revolve round the offensive tackle position. The heavy majority of “expert” mock drafts out there have the Chiefs selecting a left tackle with their fifth overall selection. The consensus isn’t “if,” but rather “who” when it comes to the Chiefs and selecting a tackle.
Generally, I’m a believer that when everyone thinks a certain way, the opposite typically occurs (or in essence, the masses are wrong). It’s the “group think” concept, so to speak. Which camp are you in when it comes to the Chiefs and the offensive tackle position?
Really, who knows how the Chiefs will address this position? There are only a handful of people who can say for certain (and that may even be a generous amount).
The fact is that if the Chiefs seek to tackle the tackle position (pun intended), there are number of paths available for travel. The draft is obviously one route, trades are another and free agency is a third. Let’s focus on the latter with free agency right around the corner.
Here are the veteran tackles available for hire beginning March 5th. If one of these players lands in Kansas City this March, might we get a better feel for the Chiefs intentions this April with number five?
Also, keep in mind as we go though these lists that not all UFAs are signed into starting roles.
KCChiefs.com Free Agency Snapshot
Position: Offensive Tackle
Degree of Need: Moderate
Chiefs Under Contract (2): Branden Albert, Jermail Porter
*Chiefs Without Contracts (4): Wade Smith (UFA), Ryan O’Callaghan (RFA), Ikechuku Ndukwe (RFA), Barry Richardson (ERFA)
Chiefs Who Opened Camp in 2009 (6): Albert, Colin Brown (moved to guard in camp), Cameron Goldberg, Damion McIntosh, Richardson, Herb Taylor
*(UFA) – Unrestricted Free Agent; (RFA)—Restricted Free Agent; (ERFA) – Exclusive Rights Free Agent
Whose Out There (restricted free agents excluded)?
Mike Gandy (6-4, 316; age: 31) – The simple fact that Gandy started all 32 games as Todd Haley’s left tackle in Arizona is a good enough reason to believe that he at least has a fighting chance to get on the Chiefs radar. Gandy isn’t a “big name” for a left tackle and he actually entered the league with Chicago (also crossing paths with Haley) as a right guard. What the nay-sayers can’t defend is that Gandy was the man protecting Kurt Warner’s blind-side the last three seasons while Warner torched opposing defensive backfields.
Even if you’re not a fan of Gandy, free agency in Arizona is something to keep an eye on. According to ESPN.com, Arizona is tied for the NFL lead with five UFAs who logged at least nine starts last season. Those players are Gandy, NT Bryan Robinson, LB Chike Okeafor, LB Karlos Dansby and TE Anthony Becht.
Remember, it’s Mike GANDY, not Mike GUNDY - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwTOfQ-izgA
Mark Tauscher (6-3, 316; age: 32) – It was reported that the Chiefs gave Tauscher a tryout last year, in late September.
Obviously, Kansas City didn’t end up signing Tauscher and he wound up landing a one-year deal with Green Bay on October 12th. The results were eight starts in as many games played for Tauscher, which he obviously hopes answers any injury concerts as he embarks upon free agency once more.
Will the Chiefs show any interest for Tauscher the second time around?
Word out of Green Bay is that the Packers are contemplating on whether or not to make Tauscher another offer…on the low side.
Levi Jones (6-5, 307; age: 30) – Jones was thought of as a fairly solid starter in Cincinnati for a number of years (89 starts from 2002-08), but found himself released last May. He would end up signing in Washington, but had one of his rougher seasons as a pro, starting only eight games after joining the Redskins mid-season on October 20th.
The fact that Jones remained on the free agent market into the regular season likely points to the conclusion that he isn’t as sought after as he might have been a few years ago. On the flip side, in a shrunken free agent market, one could argue that Jones has the most potential upside going forward based off of age alone.
Someone will give Jones a chance to crack the depth chart this summer.
Chad Clifton (6-5, 320; age: 33) – Clifton is Green Bay’s tenured starter at left tackle. A starter since joining the Packers as a second-round pick in 2000, Clifton has been a part of Green Bay’s brightest days. Clifton was protecting Brett Favre’s blindside for years and has accumulated 138 NFL starts over his career.
In 2009, the Packers offensive line struggles were well documented as Green Bay led the league with 51 sacks allowed. Clifton was a starter in 12 contests.
Most don’t expect Green Bay to be a heavy-hitter in free agency this offseason, but re-signing Clifton to being yet another decade as the Packers starting left tackle could be in store.
Those are just a few of the tackles out there that Chiefs fans may have been familiar with. Other notable players are as follows, with career games played/started in parenthesis.
Brandon Gorin, DEN (48/26)
Artis Hicks, MIN (94/58)
Cornell Green, OAK (89/46)
Langston Walker, OAK (105/67)
Jon Runyan, SD (207/192)
Tony Pashos, SF (74/55)