KANSAS CITY — The Chiefs parted ways with veteran defensive back Dunta Robinson, who never quite lived up to expectations last season, and signed Canadian Football League wide receiver Weston Dressler on Friday.
Robinson was just one year into a $13.75 million, three-year deal that the Chiefs hoped would provide a veteran presence in what became a vastly retooled defensive backfield.
Instead, Robinson was slowed by a series of nagging injuries and appeared in only nine games, making 14 tackles and defending just two passes. He was also part of a defense that was torched by Indianapolis wide receivers in a loss that knocked Kansas City out of the playoffs.
The move was widely expected not only because the 31-year-old Robinson struggled most of the season, gradually losing playing time to undrafted free agent Marcus Cooper, but also because the cash-strapped Chiefs would save more than $3 million.
The Chiefs were bumping along the just below the salary cap at the beginning of the week, and they're expected to make more moves — perhaps restructuring some of the long-term contracts signed by the previous regime — so that they can sign their draft class and be active in free agency.
Kansas City is expected to lose Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert, who was franchised last season, though there are several in-house candidates to replace him. Offensive linemen Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz are also hitting free agency as are defensive tackle Tyson Jackson, safety Kendrick Lewis and Pro Bowl punt returner Dexter McCluster.
The move to sign Dressler, who spent the past six years in the CFL, could be in response to McCluster likely demanding a contract far more lucrative than the Chiefs are willing to pay.
Dressler, a former North Dakota standout, caught 442 passes for 6,531 yards and 43 touchdowns for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, helping them win the Grey Cup this past season. He's also proven that he can return kicks and punts, in essence many of the things McCluster did for the Chiefs.
"Ever since the first time I touched a football, that's something I dreamed about, having an opportunity to play in the NFL, on the game's biggest stage," Dressler said during a recent news conference, when he was released by Saskatchewan and finalizing a deal with an NFL team.
It was unclear at the time that his landing spot would be Kansas City.
"To kind of get to that point now is pretty surreal," Dressler said.
The Chiefs didn't announce Dressler's signing until Friday, even though his name popped up on the league's transaction report earlier in the week. Terms of his deal were not available.
"Money wasn't a factor for me in this decision," Dressler said. "It's a decision based on an opportunity I feel like I have a very good chance to make a football team."