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Snapshot of Chiefs unrestricted free agents

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The 2014 NFL calendar kicks off on March 11, opening the door to the free agency period.

The Chiefs currently have 12 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, as annotated in early January by the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Branden Albert (76) defends against Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Branden Albert (76) defends against Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Headlining the NFLPA’s list are Pro Bowlers, left tackle Branden Albert and wide receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster, and also key contributors, right guard Geoff Schwartz and safety/kick returner Quintin Demps.

Of course, the Chiefs will likely lose some players to the open market or they could bring back a few, a point Chiefs coach Andy Reid made during his Jan. 5 end-of-season media session.

“We have free agents on this team; who comes back, it’s too soon to tell on that,” Reid told reporters. “I really don’t have information on that for you either. We just know that things happen in this league and there are changes that take place.”

Roster changes in the NFL are inevitable, as numerous players who played important roles on the Chiefs’ 2013 roster also joined as free agents, a list that includes some of the 12 scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Abdullah, Husain

FS

5

Abdullah signed with the Chiefs last offseason after sitting out the 2012 season to make a pilgrimage to Mecca.

He started two games in 2013, but his main contributions came on special teams. On the season, he totaled 27 tackles (22 solo), split a sack and recorded a 44-yard interception for a touchdown.

The Chiefs could choose to bring Abdullah back given his versatility on special teams.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Albert, Branden

OT

6

Albert played the 2013 season under the franchise designation and started 12 games. Named to the Pro Bowl, Albert missed three games with a knee injury and did not play the season finale, a game where the Chiefs utilized mostly backups.

The Chiefs could allow Albert to leave given the price tag he’ll command. Of course, the team’s comfort level on last year’s No. 1 pick overall, Eric Fisher, will also play a role in the decision-making process.

Fisher started at right tackle and could ultimately move to the left side when considering how well Donald Stephenson played at left and right tackle, respectively, due to injuries to Albert and Fisher.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Asamoah, Jon

OG

4

Asamoah began the 2013 season as the starting right guard before being supplanted in the lineup by Geoff Schwartz, who is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Demps, Quintin

S

5

Demps recorded 35 tackles (24 solo) in his first season with the Chiefs and led the team with four interceptions.

His biggest value proved on special teams, where he amassed 992 return yards, including a 95-yard return for a touchdown, on 33 attempts (30.1 yards per return).

With Demps, Knile Davis and Dexter McCluster anchoring the return game, the Chiefs special teams established an NFL single-season record for highest kickoff return average with 29.9 yards this season (1,316 yards on 44 returns). The record broke the previous mark of 29.4 yards by the Chicago Bears in 1972.

The Chiefs are expected to address the free safety position during the offseason, but getting Demps back makes perfect sense given his clear value in the return game.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Gafford, Thomas

LS

6

Gafford has been with the Chiefs since 2008, appearing in every game since the 2009 season.

Long snappers are an underappreciated position in the NFL, but there’s something to be said of the chemistry between Gafford, punter Dustin Colquitt and placekicker Ryan Succop.

UPDATE: The Chiefs re-signed Gafford to a one-year deal.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Jackson, Tyson

DE

5

Jackson, a former first-round pick (third overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, recorded 34 tackles (25 solo) and recorded a career-high four sacks in 2013.

The Chiefs are intrigued with Mike Catapano, a 2013seventh-round pick, and could allow Jackson to leave depending on the amount of money he’ll potentially ask for to remain in Kansas City.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Jordan, Akeem

ILB

7

Very quietly, Jordan, who signed a 2013 offseason free-agent contract, turned in a solid performance in 2013. He finished fourth on the team with 67 tackles (54 solo) and forcing two fumbles.

Jordan and Chiefs coach Andy Reid have familiarity with each other from their days together with the Philadelphia Eagles, and that could play a role in the decision to bring Jordan back.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Lewis, Kendrick

FS

4

Lewis finished the 2013 season fifth in tackles, recording 56 (46 solo). He also had an interception.

However, most will remember the tackles Lewis didn’t make or how bad he was out of position on the back end of coverage during the second half of the season.

The Chiefs pass defense sputtered down the stretch, culminating in a pitiful display during the team’s 45-44 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts where the Chiefs held a 38-10 third-quarter lead before allowing the second-largest comeback in NFL playoff history.

Upgrading the free safety position must be a priority during the offseason.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

McCluster, Dexter

WR/PR

4

McCluster turned the final year of his contract into his first Pro Bowl appearance, a second-team All-Pro selection by The Associated Press and an All-NFL selection by the Pro Football Writers of America, with each honor coming as a punt returner. The NFL also named McCluster as the Special Teams Player of the Month for December.

He excelled on special teams with 56 punt returns for 686 yards and two touchdowns. As a wide receiver, McCluster had 53 catches for 511 yards and two touchdowns.

Given the 2013 accomplishments, McCluster’s price tag could prove too much for the Chiefs to meet.

The Chiefs have been active since the end of the regular season to add insurance for the return game, signing former CFL wide receiver Weston Dressler and former New York Jets running back/returner Joe McKnight.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Schwartz, Geoff

OG

5

Schwartz, who signed as a free agent in 2013, appeared in 16 games with seven starts after replacing Jon Asamoah at right guard.

He provides veteran leadership and helped stabilize the offensive line during the second half of the 2013 season.

The Chiefs would be well-served to bring Schwartz back.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Williams, Kyle

WR/PR/KR

4

The Chiefs claimed Williams off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11, but he landed on injured reserve a week later after suffering a torn ACL during practice.

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Player

Position

Accrued seasons at end of 2013

Zombo, Frank

OLB

4

Zombo joined the Chiefs as a free agent in 2013 and appeared in all 16 games with five starts. He was the primary backup subbing for outside linebacker Tamba Hali and Justin Houston during their respective injuries, recording 27 tackles (23 solo), two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

The Chiefs could seek an upgrade behind Hali and Houston.