Things are apparently getting serious. Stanford Routt stayed the night in Kansas City yesterday and remained for further talks today with the Kansas City Chiefs. That much time for any free agent is significant, but given that the former Oakland Raiders cornerback is one of the top commodities on a market not yet opened -- that's a major statement.
Routt has numerous suitors waiting for him, including the Bengals on Friday and the Bills as well, and Routt should find some teams bidding for his services. But the Chiefs already have Brandon Carr to re-sign, and he's a player the team has publicly stated as their top off-season priority to take care of along with Dwayne Bowe. Could the Chiefs really go for three well-paid corners on the roster? Not with Brandon Flowers five-year extension already in play.
This likely means one of three things is going on:
1. The Chiefs are doing their homework and Routt is fine with the procedure:
This is what Joel Thorman over at Arrowhead Pride believes to be the case, and he has a good argument. He writes, "My guess is that this is just some due diligence on the Chiefs part. The Chiefs probably realize they need to have a backup plan ready just in case Carr doesn't sign and, really, that's what's concerning to me." If a team has a chance to scout a player, college or pro, they should take the time to know what's out there.
2. The Chiefs are posturing themselves for negotiations with Carr:
Even though the Chiefs have a lot of money to spend this off-season, it's possible that chatting with one client could affect the negotiations with the other. Of course, these sorts of tactics can quickly become problematic, and this is the least likely of the choices. Still, the Chiefs could make it known via Routt's visit that there are other fish in the sea than just Carr.
The reason this wouldn't work, however, is that Carr is easily the best overall option. He's already started four full seasons in Kansas City. He knows the system. He's a top flight cornerback who is only 26. Everything is in place with Carr and he's a known quantity. Playing with other options wouldn't help the Chiefs' cause. Plus Routt would likely realize that the Chiefs aren't truly interested over the course of two full days.
3. Carr is already out the door:
This is a likely option and the worst for the Chiefs. The Detroit Lions are Carr's hometown team and they have desperate need for help in the secondary. While everyone wants to believe that NFL officials stick to tampering rules and do not pick up a phone to talk to a player or his agent until the correct time, it's hard to believe that people aren't already talking when millions are at stake. Maybe the Chiefs realize that Carr is likely going to be gone.
If that's the case, then it makes sense to get a leg up on the competition by wooing Routt. Once the official bell sounds, the marketplace will be flooded with multiple players going to multiple teams and guys will sign quickly. If the Chiefs want to avoid having to worry about a new need at cornerback, striking a deal with Routt sooner than later will make a big difference.
Carr is not going to say he wants to go to Detroit if that means he leaves money on the table. Instead, he will want the Chiefs to know that he's willing to come back so that multiple teams become involved in the bidding process. And the Chiefs won't want to say they're willing to just let him walk. With so much cap room, fans will cry foul if it looks like they're being cheap.
There's simply so much talk at this point that it's impossible to tell what's good PR and what's actually true. Instead, you have to look at what is factual and Routt's two-day visit is odd for a player who can sign any time that he wants. The Chiefs must have a real interest in bringing Routt to the team or at least they're having a hard time deciding. Either way that doesn't look good for Carr's chances to stay in KC.