Dexter McCluster has become one of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ most beloved players over his first four seasons in the NFL. He may be the most versatile player in the league and provided Arrowhead Stadium with one of its most electrifying moments of 2013 on his 89-yard punt return in Week 4.
But with free agency among us, the idea that McCluster may not be in Kansas City for 2014 is slowly beginning to become a reality. John Dorsey and the Chiefs’ front office have expressed their desire to hang onto McCluster, but that’s easier said than done. The Chiefs have many other needs to address with a relatively small amount of cap space.
Names like Jeremy Maclin and Golden Tate have been thrown around as possible replacements, but both of these players would likely come with an even larger price tag than McCluster.
Scanning through the list of 2014 free-agent receivers, there are three names that stand out as possible cost-effective replacements for McCluster should he end up elsewhere next season.
Jacoby Jones is one such possibility. Jones signed an incredibly reasonable two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. He’d likely come even cheaper to Kansas City in 2014.
Jones is one of the more dangerous return men in the league, registering eight special teams touchdowns over his seven-year career. He’s also proved himself capable of handling No. 2 wide receiver duties, lining up in the slot and also providing a viable deep threat for Baltimore QB Joe Flacco the past two seasons.
Though for the cost, it might not get better than Ted Ginn, Jr. Ginn was paid only $1 million to serve as the Carolina Panthers No. 3 receiver in addition to managing kick and punt return responsibilities for 2013.
Ginn is one of the few players in league history recorded at a sub-4.3 40-time and is a much better receiver than given credit for. He put up a respectable 556 yards and five touchdowns as the fourth option in a run-first offense in Carolina. Ginn would fit seamlessly into Kansas City’s offense and ease the pain of a McCluster loss.
Jerome Simpson is the last free-agent wideout that would make sense for Kansas City to sign. While Simpson wouldn’t be able to replace McCluster’s return prowess, Simpson possesses good hands, respectable speed and has quietly had a solid season (726 yards, 15.1 YPC) in the Minnesota Vikings‘ awful pass offense.
The only concern with Simpson is his checkered past (drug and DWI charges). While his arrest record will certainly lower his asking price, suitors may be scared off by his propensity for trouble. If Simpson can figure it out off the field, he has the opportunity to be a successful receiver in the league for the next three or four years.
Any of the three would only cause a small cap hit and would lessen the blow of losing All-Pro McCluster. Personally, I love Ginn for the job and think he would make an for interesting, cheap addition to a squad desperately searching for playmaking receivers. Or better yet, the Chiefs find a way to keep McCluster in Kansas City. Only time will tell.