INDIANAPOLIS – Chiefs general manager John Dorsey cleared the air Friday when it came to how the offensive line could shake out before the start of free agency on March 11.
Speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, Dorsey said the team has been in talks with all scheduled unrestricted free agents, including left tackle Branden Albert.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the Chiefs can bring back Albert short of designating him a franchise player, the latter move appearing to be an unlikely scenario at this point.
“Probably not,” Dorsey said of using the franchise tag on a player before the March 3 league deadline. “We probably won’t use it.”
Nevertheless, bringing back Albert would mean the Chiefs have the money within the salary cap, another unlikely situation given the team’s current cap status at a reported $6.8 million.
But if Albert is re-signed, that means Eric Fisher will stay at right tackle, while Donald Stephenson remains on standby.
Either way, Dorsey appeared pleased of the prospect of seeing the continued development of the team’s No. 1 pick overall of the 2013 NFL Draft.
“One thing I’m proud about Eric is I think he made great strides as the season went along,” Dorsey said. “You could see a great degree of comfort with him in the second half of the season.
“And really, that’s a credit to (offensive line coaches) Andy Heck and Eugene Chung. I’ve always said between the first and the second year, that’s when those guys make their greatest stride.”
The Chiefs are scheduled to lose free safeties Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps and Husain Abdullah to free agency barring a re-signing.
And the potential hole is not lost on Dorsey, who understands the importance of having a strong back end of the secondary.
“l think the game of football has changed over the last five years,” Dorsey said. “The ability for safeties to cover means something now because they’re passing and spreading the ball out a little bit more.
“(Former Green Bay Packers safety) Nick Collins was a very good player. I think that Eric Berry is a very fine football player, and I think the safety position is like all of them. They’re vitally important in today’s football.”
The Chiefs could be in the market through free agency or the draft in the event Lewis, Abdullah or Demps aren’t re-signed.
Or they could look at the current roster with a player Dorsey remains high on.
“I think Sanders Commings is very talented,” Dorsey said. “I think it’s unfortunate that he got injured on the first play of the first day training camp because you guys would’ve realized – I think a lot of you all were saying what an athletic, easy moving guy he was.”
The Chiefs placed Commings on injured reserve before the start of the regular season with a designation to return, and then activated him during the Week 10 bye.
Unfortunately, Commings aggravated the same shoulder that he hurt in training camp and landed on season-ending injured reserve after appearing in two games.
Still, the Chiefs’ fifth-round pick (134th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft shouldn’t be forgotten as a potential solution to the free safety position.
“I have great confidence in Sanders and his ability to play in the secondary,” Dorsey said.
Potential return game solutions
Wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster is among the 11 Chiefs players scheduled to hit the open market short of new contracts.
But the Chiefs signed two intriguing players since the 2013 season ended in moves that appear to offer insurance if McCluster leaves.
With running back Joe McKnight and wide receiver Weston Dressler, the Chiefs have versatile players who could contribute on special teams as returners if called upon.
McKnight returned punts for the New York Jets, while Dressler saw action as a punt returner in the CFL.
“They’re skill players that can help us out,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said during his Thursday media session at the Combine. “I want to see what they do in our system, whether it’s at the wide receiver slot position, whether it’s in the running back position and still being able to flex out and do some of the things that we ask our running backs to do. It’s probably too early to tell right this minute until I get them out there.”
McKnight is a known commodity with NFL experience, but not much is known of Dressler.
Still, he did enough in Canada to catch the Chiefs’ attention in their effort to continue improving on an 11-5 season.
“In that market, he showed on his film in the CFL he’s very competitive,” Dorsey said of Dressler. “What we do as an organization is we try to turn over every stone we possibly can to find players that will (give us) the competitive depth we always talk about.”
Dressler, 28, spent six seasons in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders where he totaled 442 receptions for 6,531 yards and 43 touchdowns.
He also totaled 92 career punt returns for 907 yards and a touchdown.
“I think he’s a very unique player, he’ll have a little bit of return thing in here,” Dorsey said. “The way Andy (Reid) uses certain players and finds roles for him, it’s interesting. But again, that’s a player you bring into camp. Let’s see how he competes and let’s see how he fits.”