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NFL Kansas City Chiefs

5 Kansas City Chiefs Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency

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5 Kansas City Chiefs Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency

Kansas CIty Chiefs Free Agency 2014
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of questions to answer as they head into free agency, and they need good answers to all of them. The 2013 season was an incredible turnaround for the Chiefs. Unfortunately, they will need to improve immensely if they want to keep pace with what they did last year — much less take the next step.

2014 will feature a much tougher schedule than last season’s, including five games against the four teams that made the conference championships (two vs. the Denver Broncos). Kansas City beat just one team that finished with a winning record last year. Their upcoming schedule will feature eight teams that ended 2013 with a winning record, with three more that finished 8-8.

The AFC West is a very tough division. The Chiefs are going to need an upgrade in personnel if they want to compete for it. They must find a way to either stop or outshoot Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers as they failed in all four opportunities last season.

Granted, Kansas City took on the San Diego Chargers with mostly reserves in one of their contests, but it’s still clear that they need some help to take down their division rivals. The Chiefs have 16 players heading into free agency on Mar. 11, creating quite a few holes to fill.

Kansas City did get some good news on this front recently. The Players’ Association announced last Friday that the NFL’s salary cap will increase to $133 million — roughly $7 million higher than previously estimated. The Chiefs now have a little financial wiggle room to make some much-needed moves. Here are five storylines that just got a little more interesting with the announcement of league's new salary cap.

Aaron Charles is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Follow him on twitter @aaroncharleskc or add him to your network on Google

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5. What Will They Do at Defensive End?

Allen Bailey
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tyson Jackson is one player who the Chiefs can now afford to re-sign with the new salary cap. Though the team does have a pretty decent replacement on the bench in Allen Bailey if they decide to use their money elsewhere, Kansas City would love to bring back Jackson if the price tag isn’t too high. If he wants too much, the team would still be in good shape with Bailey holding down the fort while they bring along a prospect through the draft.

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4. How Will They Approach the Offensive Line?

Branden Albert, Free Agent
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah will all be heading into free agency. Albert is likely gone, but the Chiefs can probably afford to bring back Schwartz and Asamoah. It would be ideal to re-sign both guards. If they can only get one, it should definitely be Schwartz, who can also fill in at tackle. Whether it's through their own free agents, outside free agents or the draft, Kansas City will need to sign multiple offensive linemen during the offseason.

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3. How Will the Receiving Corps Get an Upgrade?

Donnie Avery
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a great time to need a wide receiver in the NFL. There is a lot of talent available in the free agent market, and the draft is absolutely loaded at the position. Kansas City needs a receiving threat outside of Dwayne Bowe, and it’s going to be a lot of fun to see how they approach it. The draft is probably the best way to go. It would be the cheaper, more long-term answer. Though there’s a chance Kansas City would be willing to spend some money for a more reliable player who could bring an immediate impact.

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2. Who Will Take Over Return-Man Duties?

Dexter McCluster, Pro Bowl
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs had arguably the best special teams crew in the league last year, and they would definitely love to keep that going. It’s doesn't look like the team is going to re-sign punt-return man Dexter McCluster, but they may bring back their kick-returner Quentin Demps. Kansas City has already reached deals with CFL star Weston Dressler and former New York Jets RB Joe McKnight.

Both players have return experience, but both could also be cut with no consequences. The front office has committed no money to either of them. RB Knile Davis could also be in the mix, but he still needs to prove he is over his fumble issues. The Chiefs have nothing stable set in an area that was big for the team last year. They could be looking for a more dependable option through free agency or possibly the draft.

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1. How Will the Secondary Get a Much-Needed Boost?

Brandon Flowers, Kendrick Lewis
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Berry is the only member of the Chiefs’ secondary who had a good season in 2013. Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper were inconsistent, while Dunta Robinson and Kendrick Lewis were just flat-out disappointing. Lewis is a free agent who probably won’t return, Robinson has been cut and the others are still under contract.

The Chiefs drafted FS Sanders Commings last year, and despite missing almost the entire year to a shoulder injury, the coaching staff likes him. His lack of experience makes him more of an upside play than a definite answer. In a division with Manning and Rivers, this is the most important area for the Chiefs to address. It will be very interesting to see what they do.

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