If the lockout is going to end soon in the NFL, which we believe that it will, then it's clear that the next step on the horizon is going to be a chaotic frenzy that's most commonly known as free agency. Every NFL franchise will be scrambling to make their offers, hit their cap floor, address team needs and schedule the press conferences that come with such announcements along the way. If the typical free agent signing period is filled with rumors, contract discussions and analysis, wait until the floodgates are finally lifted.
That said, where do the Kansas City Chiefs stand? There were definite holes on the roster, even after last year's 10-win season atop the AFC West. From some youth along the defensive interior to further help along the offensive line to a pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali, the Chiefs went into the NFL Draft with a plan to address their needs and they mostly stuck to that plan. Where does that leave Scott Pioli and company to turn next? The answer could be wide receiver if you believe the rumors.
The connection is natural to expect the Chiefs to address not only a need at wide receiver, but for that to possibly be filled by current Cardinal wideout Steve Breaston. To first address the need, it's clear the Chiefs were one of the worst teams in going deep on a defense in all of football last year. Most teams toward the end of the year doubled Dwayne Bowe and stacked the box, and the Chiefs simply didn't have the playmakers at wide receiver to recover. Chris Chambers could not add to his fantastic run at the end of 2009, and there was no answer on the roster.
Enter Jonathan Baldwin, the first round pick of the Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Pitt product has the ideal size, strength and athleticism for the task at hand -- going over the top and creating that deep vertical threat -- and his perceived personality and character issues are supposed to be behind him. It could end up a steal for KC at No. 27 overall. But that also means a team is depending on a rookie to come in immediately and help in an offseason with no OTAs or conditioning drills with the team. It also doesn't address the Chiefs need at the slot.
Enter Steve Breaston. Breaston is one of those free agents that seem automatically connected to their next home. He's already familiar with Chiefs head coach Todd Haley from his days as an assistant coach in Arizona. He fills the role the Chiefs need him to. The team has the money to spend, the need on the roster, the rising star that a free agent would like and the familiarity to make an instant impact. In fact, the signing makes more sense than perhaps most others that will take place sometime in the next month (most likely).
Pro Football Weekly notes this in their latest rumors column: "Depending on their salary-cap situation, the Chiefs could make a run at free-agent WR Steve Breaston when the league year begins. Kansas City needs a slot receiver to play with starters Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin, a role in which Breaston has thrived. He also is very familiar with Chiefs head coach Todd Haley, who was Breaston's offensive coordinator at Arizona in 2007 and '08."
Breaston has continued to produce even without Kurt Warner in Arizona's offense, with over 700 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons after hitting the 1,000 yard mark with Warner's last year in 2008. Breaston also reached a career-high 15+ yards per catch this last season, hitting his best vertical stride yet. It's the sign that the receiver is coming into his own and learning the scheme well. IN other words, he'd make an immediate impact for Matt Cassel and the Kansas City Chiefs.
If the Chiefs can turn their wide receiver position from a weakness (outside of Bowe) into a real strength, their offense will be unstoppable. For now, they need to find the right pieces to add to the team, and it seems Breaston is not only a rumor but a fantastic option once the lockout is lifted. Of course, several other teams might be thinking the same thing.