We’ve noted in earlier posts that Stanford Routt‘s signing will have quite the impact leading into the 2012 free agent period. Now that the Chiefs have penned him to a deal, let’s take a moment to look at what this means for the team and fellow free agents.
There is plenty of cap room in KC, but they have significant needs to be met as well, so while many fans would have liked to see them re-sign either WR Dwayne Bowe or CB Brandon Carr to long-term deals while tagging the other, the move to sign Routt leads to significantly increased flexibility. First, as we’re reminded by Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star, this move does not necessarily entail that Brandon Carr is headed out. While the Chiefs will probably be unwilling to give him the type of deal they gave fellow CB Brandon Flowers ($50M over five years, which is in the neighborhood of what Carr expects), they would certainly consider signing him for less and using Routt as a #3.
Nevertheless, if we assume that Carr cannot be retained (John Clayton at ESPN tweets that the Vikings and Titans ears may just have perked up), Bowe can now receive the tag (whether he’s tagged or re-signed, expect him back in Kansas City in 2012) and the Chiefs can still spend significantly in free agency. With NT Kelly Gregg likely to retire, they’ll look to address the position via the market or draft. RT Barry Richardson could stand to be replaced, though there’s not much available in this years market (there’s no ties between the Chiefs and top free-agent tackle Jared Gaither, right?). They can also try to upgrade at QB, or even trade up in the draft and have the money to sign a number two draft pick, should the Rams look to trade out of the spot (though this would be a big move up). A big name running back or two could certainly make it to market next month, and the Chiefs would have the cash to spend there as well.
The Routt signing will be felt by other free agents as well. On the offensive side of the ball, this increases the value of free agent WRs such as Vincent Jackson, Brandon Lloyd, and Marques Colston via the now probable tagging of Bowe. Vincent Jackson has been rumored to prefer staying in San Diego, but depends on how much of a discount he’s willing to take. The greater the number of tags spent on WR (Patriots could certainly tag Wes Welker also), the greater value WRs will enjoy in the market. Routt’s signing very well could have sealed the deal for Vincent Jackson to test the market.
Defensively, Carr would join a CB saturated free agent market, which could see Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan, Carlos Rogers, and even Lardarius Webb (though he is the least likely of the group to make it to market) all become available. The signing value of all will likely decrease, though they will still be in heavy demand.
In summary, we think Bowe will be back at Arrowhead, Carr will be moving on, CB’s will take a hit to potential free-agent dollars, and Vincent Jackson will enjoy a more than receptive market. What’s your take? Chiefs, Chargers, Titans, and Vikings fans, let’s hear it.