For our second look at in-house free agents, lets take a look at one of the more scrutinized players this past season: free safety Kendrick Lewis.
Player: Kendrick Lewis
Position: Free Safety
Status: Unrestricted free agent
Situation: Lewis just completed his rookie deal. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2010.
Lewis was drafted in the fifth round in 2010 in order to provide some depth and youth to an aging secondary. He’s been the starter at free safety for the better part of his four seasons in Kansas City, starting in at least nine games every season he’s been in the league. With that being said, Lewis unquestionably had his worst season as a professional in 2013. He was consistently out of position, struggled to make tackles and didn’t have the speed to keep up with receivers streaking down the field (i.e. T.Y. Hilton). The Chiefs’ pass rush early in the season helped mask some of Lewis’ inability, but once teams figured him out, well, you know the rest.
The frustrating thing about Lewis is he actually played pretty well his first two seasons in the league. Perhaps his best season came in 2011, when he picked off three passes and picked up much of the slack left by the injured Eric Berry. Lewis would later deal with shoulder problems, however, and doesn’t seem to be the same.
Bob Sutton’s defense is designed much like Seattle’s touted defense in that it relies on man-coverage by the corners and leaves a single safety deep. Part of the reason Seattle has had so much success with this is the play of Earl Thomas, perhaps the best free safety in football. Kansas City needs their version of Earl Thomas, and Lewis is certainly not that guy.
Lewis came fairly cheap last season, earning 1.323 million. He’ll probably fetch a raise on the open market considering his success in the years before his injury and he could probably thrive in a system that requires less of him. Lewis will also be seen as an excellent reserve by teams thin on depth. I highly doubt the Chiefs will resign him, however, as an upgrade at the position is badly needed and was highlighted in the playoff game.
Rookie Sanders Commings, who was injured for nearly all of 2013, will probably get a look at free safety and I’m fairly confident Dorsey and company will draft or sign somebody to provide depth or possibly even start, as well. Some options outside of the current roster include free agents Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward but both, especially Byrd, will demand a sizeable contract. Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix could be an option in the first round but most pundits seem to think he’ll be selected before the Chiefs are on the clock. The only real certainty is Lewis will probably be resuming his career elsewhere next season.