KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the Kansas City Chiefs made a move to hire Andy Reid to be their next coach, their swift and decisive decision snapped just about everyone in the NFL to attention.
Turns out that included players, too.
So perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise that once the Chiefs hired John Dorsey to be their new general manager, and free agency opened this week, a steady stream of productive guys began walking through the front doors at One Arrowhead Drive.
Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson. Defensive tackle Mike DeVito. Tight end Anthony Fasano and wide receiver Donnie Avery. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
They all point at Reid as one of the reasons why they chose Kansas City.
Even quarterback Alex Smith, whom the Chiefs acquired in a trade with San Francisco, said that Reid’s reputation burnished over 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles was a big reason why he wanted to land in Kansas City should the 49ers agree to a deal with anybody.
“There was no doubt in my mind this is where I wanted to be. It wasn’t close. Everything pointed here for me,” Smith said this week. “The opportunity to work with coach Reid, from all the quarterbacks I’ve ever talked to, gotten to know him, it’s all been good things.”
Reid had run-ins with a few of his players during his time in Philadelphia, but they were far outnumbered by the guys who used such euphemisms as “a player’s coach” in describing him.
There’s a reason that the Eagles signed so many high-profile free agents, too.
“You look at the tradition of the Kansas City Chiefs organization, the Hunt family, they went and hired Andy Reid, one of the best offensive minds, in my opinion,” said Daniel, who’s spent the past three seasons backing up quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans.
“Just how big a splash they’ve already made,” Daniel said, “that’s what attracted me.”
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt made it evident in January that Reid was his top choice to replace Romeo Crennel when he flew to Philadelphia shortly after Reid was fired, and then wouldn’t let him leave a meeting at an area airport that stretched on for more than eight hours.
A couple days later, Reid arrived in Kansas City aboard a private plane, and local TV stations got wind of it. His black SUV was tailed by helicopters streaming live footage as Reid drove to Arrowhead Stadium, where a couple of fans had even shown up looking for an autograph.
“That was pretty wild,” Reid said with a smile.
Within days, TV commercials started popping up during playoff broadcasts welcoming Reid to Kansas City, and his arrival has played a big part in a surge of new season ticket orders — an increase of 112 percent over the same time last season, according to team officials.
All that excitement will fade if the Chiefs don’t win, though, and they won’t win if they aren’t able to lure the kind of players that can turn around a 2-14 franchise.
Smith agreed to a deal Thursday to give the Chiefs a sizeable cornerback to match up with the big receivers in the AFC West, and Robinson provides a hard-hitting nickel back. DeVito is the kind of run-stuffing defensive tackle the Chiefs haven’t had in years.
Fasano is expected to team with Tony Moeaki in two-tight end sets, while Avery gives the Chiefs the kind of downfield speed that they didn’t have in their wide receiver corps.
“I was looking at it, you know, and Andy Reid, I’m a big fan of his work,” Avery said. “I know he likes to throw the ball from DeSean Jackson. He likes to get the ball deep. He likes fast guys. He called me and I said, ‘I’m here. I’m here.’”
That’s become a familiar sentiment among free agents who have talked to the Chiefs.
While it’s almost impossible to know who they’ve swung at and missed during the start of free agency, Reid can clearly take some credit for the base hits that they’ve piled up.
“I think if you take one common denominator with the free agents brought in so far, there’s a certain grit and toughness about them,” Reid said. “I welcome that to our team. I think our locker room will welcome that, and it’s important now that we jump in and get ready for the draft.”