Adding to what could be one of the better secondaries in the NFL in 2012, the Kansas City Chiefs signed former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt to a three-year, $19.6 million deal on Monday. Sources close to Shutdown Corner confirmed the deal, and also that Routt will receive $5 million from his Raiders contract as a guaranteed roster bonus despite the fact that Oakland released the six-year veteran on Feb. 9. Routt had free-agent visits with several teams, and was close to a deal with the Buffalo Bills, but Kansas City won out in the end. When you look at Routt's 2011 season, that's not much of a surprise.
Not only do the Chiefs present attractive battery mates for any cornerback in fellow cornerback Brandon Flowers, and safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis, but their approach to secondary play is consistent in production and coaching.
"Stanford has a proven record of success in the NFL," Chiefs head coach and former defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel said on the team's official website. "He's a talented player that has spent seven seasons in the AFC West, so he is familiar with us and our division opponents. We are excited to have Stanford join the team, and we are looking forward to getting started."
Crennel is one more reason for Routt to be excited about his new opportunity -- another is defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas, a Hall of Famer in his own right, who knows how to connect with young defensive backs like few other coaches in the NFL.
When we talked with Berry last March about Thomas, he expressed his admiration for the former Chiefs DB and longtime coach. "It's been really fun working with him," Berry said. "I've learned a lot from him, obviously with him being a Hall of Famer and being around football so long. But at the same time, he's the kind of guy you can approach and ask about anything. Those are the types of coaches I like, as opposed to the ones who just say, 'Oh, here's what you have to do because I said so,' it's more, 'This is what you need to do and this is why.' He tells you the reason you're doing it and he doesn't leave you in the dark. I don't really respond to that other type of coaching too well, but coach Thomas has helped me out, and he's helped us all out. We're a young secondary, and what we needed was someone with a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge."
That will be a strong rebound from a coaching perspective after the disaster that Raiders defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan put forth in 2011. Most Raiders defenders played out of position through that season, and the results were obvious. Routt finished second in the NFL in accepted penalties with 17 (Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner had 19 penalties in 2011, but three were declined), and Routt's eight touchdowns allowed per STATS, Inc. were representative of a season in which the Raiders' defense fell apart and his own play was an issue in ways it hadn't been before. This looks like an ideal situation for a bounceback.
The interesting thing about the Routt signing is what it does for Brandon Carr, the severely underrated cornerback who had played on Flowers' other side. Most analysts speculate that Routt allows the Chiefs to let Carr test free agency and use the franchise tag on receiver Dwayne Bowe instead.