Now that the Kansas City Chiefs have addressed the big need of an offensive tackle, via the free-agent signing of Eric Winston, they now have to decide what avenue—if any—they should pursue with the smattering of free agents on the board, and in the NFL draft. With inside linebackers like London Fletcher still out there on the market, it’s been speculated that Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli should make another move and scoop up a linebacker on the inside. I have mixed feelings about such a move, particularly with the costs likely associated with a free agent acquisition.
Inside linebacker is not a position of true need for Kansas City. Derrick Johnson is a good all-around player and Jovan Belcher has become a nice supporting piece here, and at age 24, Belcher’s still got time to make further improvement. Certainly adding depth wouldn’t hurt and it’s not like it would be unthinkable to replace Belcher. This is why I wouldn’t have any problem with selecting Boston College’s Luke Kuechly in the draft—not because I think the position is crying out to be filled, but because there is room for reasonable improvement.
But evaluating a free agent signing should have different measuring sticks than that of a draft choice, even a high one. With a draft pick you can look a few years out and envision how a stockpile of players at one position can eventually work itself out. With a free agent signing—especially a veteran with al lot of mileage, it needs to work out immediately.
If someone like Fletcher is available without a huge financial commitment, than I see the logic of forgoing the above concerns, grabbing him, putting him alongside Johnson and going for it this year. But what are the odds that cheap free agents of real quality are out there? It makes more sense to for Kansas City to go full steam toward the NFL draft with the array of options they have now on the board.