Despite its shoddy statistical rating, the Kansas City defense is certainly not without talent, and the Chiefs have retained two key starters, each of them pending unrestricted free agents, with long-term contract extensions.
Strong safety Greg Wesley, who has emerged as one of the league's best players at his position, has signed a six-year contract that ESPN.com learned is worth $20 million. Defensive lineman John Browning signed a five-year, $12.31 million deal.
Two other defensive starters, end Eric Hicks and free safety Jerome Woods, are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in less than two months. Chiefs officials continue to negotiate with the starting defenders.
Coming off what was arguably the best season of his four-year career, Wesley received a signing bonus of $4 million and will earn a second-tier option bonus of $1 million in the spring of 2005. His base salaries are $535,000 (for 2004), $865,000 (2005), $2.5 million (2006), $2.7 million (2007), $2.8 million (2008) and $3.3 million (2009).
In addition, there are annual roster bonuses of $300,000 in each year of the contract and yearly workout bonuses of $100,000 each for 2005 through 2009.
Wesley, 25, had a career-best 102 tackles while starting every game in 2003 and, for the second straight season, posted six interceptions. Many league observers felt the former Arkansas-Pine Bluff standout, a third-round choice in the 2000 draft, should have been on the Pro Bowl squad.
For his career, Wesley has started 61 games and has 284 tackles, 16 interceptions, six sacks, four forced fumbles and 34 passes defensed. A solid hybrid defender, Wesley can play close to the line of scrimmage but also has very good coverage skills.
Browning, 30, started all 16 games in 2003 and finished with 55 tackles, one-half sack and two pass deflections. A third-round pick in the 1996 draft, the eight-year veteran has appeared in 89 games and started 76 of them. His career totals include 233 tackles, 21 sacks, one interception and seven pass deflections.
The former West Virginia star signed a contract that included a $3 million bonus and base salaries of $660,000 (2004), $1.2 million (2005), $1.5 million (2006), $2 million (2007) and $2.5 million (2008). There are annual workout bonuses of $50,000 each, a roster bonus of $200,000 for 2004 and roster bonuses of $250,000 each for 2005-2008.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.