Monday February 20th, 2012

The Chiefs took Brandon Carr in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. (MRQ/Icon SMI)

The Kansas City Chiefs plucked one cornerback off the free agent market and, in the process, probably guaranteed that a different cornerback takes his place.

Stanford Routt agreed to a three-year, $19.6 million deal with Kansas City Monday, according to multiple reports. What's that mean for 25-year-old Brandon Carr, himself about to be a free agent after starting all 64 regular-season games for the Chiefs over the past four seasons?

In all likelihood it means he'll jump to the top of the projected cornerback class, alongside Carlos Rogers, Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan. There's a possibility, maybe even the Chiefs' dream scenario, that Carr decides to stay put and turn a solid DB duo of Routt and Brandon Flowers into a formidable trio. The Chiefs' promising financial situation -- they headed into this offseason projected to be about $30 million under next year's salary cap -- leaves that option on the table.

There's a better chance, though, that Carr will depart Kansas City in search of top dollars elsewhere. There should be no shortage of teams interested, even if the price tag might be higher than it should.

The ramifications for the Chiefs, meanwhile, could be long-lasting.

Carr looked like a potential candidate to receive the franchise tag in K.C., if the two sides could not reach an agreement on a long-term deal prior to the start of free agency. The move to grab Routt gives the Chiefs some more flexibility -- they may now opt to tag Dwayne Bowe and further test the waters on Carr.

Carr and Routt's numbers from last season are pretty similar: Carr had 42 tackles, seven pass break-ups and four interceptions; Routt went 48, 10 and four in those categories. Routt, however, endured some miserable stretches as a cover corner, as he failed to make the transition from Oakland's No. 2 to No. 1 DB after the departure of Nnamdi Asomugha.

Joining the Chiefs will allow Routt to take on more manageable responsibilities, with Flowers locking down the opposite side of the field.

It might be awhile, however, before the verdict comes back on Kansas City's decision to chase Routt, assuming it costs them Carr. While Routt, even at $6 million-plus per season, might wind up being a cheaper option, the Chiefs spent a lot of time and energy grooming the Flowers-Carr tandem into their future at cornerback.

Faced with a fork in the road, the Chiefs opted to go a different direction -- or, more specifically, in a direction that ensured they'd be able to keep Bowe and maintain a solid 1-2 cornerback punch. Carr's on the verge of cashing in on that decision.

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