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Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.

Chiefs in Danger of Losing One of the Right 53

There has been much talk this offseason (and it will only pick up from here) about the fate of the Chiefs marquee free agents: Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr.  It has been made known that the Chiefs have been working with Bowe and his agent nearly all season.  With Bowe’s future still up in the air that puts Brandon Carr’s situation in flux as well.

With both scenarios as they are, two groups of thinking have emerged.  One group of thought is that the Chiefs will look to sign Bowe as the more valuable player; the other suggests that Carr is more important to future Chiefs success.  While I go back and forth on which is more valuable, I think they are about as close as can be.  That said, the way the team is currently constructed I see the loss of Bowe as easier to make up for.  Unfortunately, I also see the loss of Carr as the more realistic of an option.

This seems even more likely Monday as the Chiefs officially announced that they have signed free agent corner Stanford Routt from Oakland.

It seems that signing a FA cornerback with starting experience would mean that Carr is probably not going to be back.  Now, when you take a cursory look at the stats for 2011, Routt and Carr’s performances were nearly identical.  Both had 15 passes defended, both had 4 interceptions, and Routt had 49 tackles to Carr’s 45.  What that doesn’t tell you is that Routt was a league leader in amount of times he got “burnt.”  While this isn’t an official statistic, the advanced stat sites keep up with it and it is an interesting metric.

What also bears mentioning here is that the Raiders play a bit of a different style of man coverage than the Chiefs.  Oakland plays more of a bump and run, one-on-one game with less help from the safeties than the Chiefs, which increases the amount of times a cornerback will get beat.  My guess would be with Routt playing off of the receivers more (as the Chiefs do) and getting more help from safeties, those numbers would dissipate.  However, that’s not even the biggest issue at play.

What stands out the most in the Carr situation is why the Chiefs haven’t been able to sign him.  While he’s not officially gone yet, every indication would be that he and the Chiefs won’t be able to reach a deal.  After hearing him on Nick Wrights show it’s clear he enjoys Kansas City, being a Chief, and would like to stay if the opportunity presented itself.  

What makes this situation difficult is Carr and his agent knowing that he will most likely get overpaid in the free agent market.  Cover cornerbacks are at a premium in the league now and somebody with Carr’s skills can cash in on this.  While he may not be a true #1 cornerback, there are teams out there that will most likely be willing to pay him that level of money.

Even with that being the case, it seems like he might take a bit of a “hometown discount” to stay with the team that drafted him.  If the Chiefs would go a little above what they value him at, but still below that #1 level, a deal might be reached (bear in mind this is pure speculation on my part).

What’s involved here is a bigger issue with how Scott Pioli does business.  To this point, Pioli has done a fantastic job of keeping the players that the Chiefs already have.  Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers, Derrick Johnson, and Tamba Hali are all top tier players at their position and have all been signed before hitting free agency., (Hali being the lone exception as he was franchised). 

So, why has it been so difficult to get Carr signed?

In signing players to new contracts Pioli has repeated his ‘Right 53’ mantra nearly every time.  When players have bought in and shown they can be an integral part of this team, they have been rewarded.  By all accounts, Carr has been a model citizen, player, and teammate, so what’s the holdup?

The gap between player and organization in this case seems to be based on value.  As a general manager one of Pioli’s strengths has always been his ability to correctly value players.  As strong as that is, it’s also become one of his weaknesses.  

With Pioli’s ‘Right 53’ philosophy, he has taken a more detailed approach to the roster.  Each and every player on this team from the #1 player all the way to #53 has their role defined.  This goes in contrast to the previous regime that seemed to organize players into tiers, and avoided going into detail about where each one fit exactly.

With this methodology, Pioli has subscribed a value to each player on this team.  He has determined Carr’s value and doesn’t intend on spending more than that.  Pioli spends a lot of time valuing players, is very good at it, and does not like to overpay.  Market inefficiencies are something he likes to take advantage of, not perpetuate.  

A great example would be Shaun Smith.  It was reported that the difference between what Shaun Smith was offered by the Chiefs to re-sign and what he received on his new contract was less than one million dollars.  Seems like a reasonable amount to increase for someone who started nearly every game for the Chiefs in 2010, yet they chose not to.  According to Pioli and the Chiefs, Smith’s value didn’t warrant the additional money.

This seems to be the impasse with Carr.  Without having any firsthand knowledge of the negotiations, it seems that the differences consist of his perceived value versus what he can receive in the market.  I’m not sure how far apart the two sides are, but it seems the Chiefs should be able to move up a bit and make the sign while still coming in below the highest bid of the market.  After all, Clark Hunt has come out and said that money is not an option in this year’s free agency.  From everything we know, Carr is a picture perfect representation of the ‘Right 53.’  The two sides should be able to make a deal.

The public perception about the Chiefs has shifted in recent years.  The team is losing ground in the Kansas City sports market and part of it is their staunch practices.  If the Chiefs want to change that perception they can start with Brandon Carr.  Give him more than they want to pay, show the team that the right players will be rewarded and show the fans that you are committed to making this team a legitimate contender.  It all starts here before Carr motors on out of town.

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : Kansas CityOakland
People : Brandon CarrBrandon FlowersClark HuntDerrick JohnsonDwayne BoweJamaal CharlesScott PioliShaun SmithStanford RouttTamba Hali

02/21/2012 9:47AM
Chiefs in Danger of Losing One of the ‘Right 53’
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