Defensive back Ron Parker has been cut by NFL teams eight times, which should be taken as a sign of his ability more than the lack of it. Teams were seeing enough from Parker that they kept giving him a chance.
He started to deliver on that promise last year for the Kansas City Chiefs, the only one of Parker’s four NFL teams who hadn’t given up on him at some point. Parker, 27, had the classic look last season of a late bloomer who would go on to do good things.
That’s why it would have been a shame if the Chiefs had lots him in free agency. It didn’t happen as Parker agreed to contract terms with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs already lost one such player in free agency this year when center Rodney Hudson signed with the Oakland Raiders. Hudson, as a former second-round draft pick by the Chiefs, had a different story than Parker. He was never cut by any NFL team once, much less eight times.
But it was still difficult for the Chiefs to see him walk out the door. Like with Parker, who joined the Chiefs off waivers from Seattle in 2013, the Chiefs nurtured him and just as he was becoming the player they envisioned when they drafted him, he was gone. Hudson, 25, will have the best seasons of his career for not only another team but an AFC West rival.
That won’t be happening with Parker, and the Chiefs are better off. With Eric Berry trying to beat lymphoma and recently signed Tyvon Branch coming off two straight seasons ruined by injuries, the Chiefs need the assurance at safety that Parker can provide.
The Chiefs have acknowledged they prefer Parker more as a safety than a cornerback. But he can help at corner in a pinch. He started four games at cornerback last year and while he had some rough moments, he also was a star at corner in a midseason road win over the Bills.
The Bills went after Parker late in the game in an attempt to overcome a four-point deficit, but Parker didn’t budge. He broke up three passes during a four-play, red zone stand that allowed the Chiefs to emerge with what, at the time, looked like an important victory.
Whether at corner or safety, look for Parker to have similar moments in the years ahead. He will be having them for the Chiefs and not one of their opponents.