Chiefs cut Dalton; DT might be hot property on market
Veteran defensive tackle Lional Dalton, who started 14 games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2005, has been released, in part because the team wanted to create a spot for cornerback Michael Bragg, but also because he was not a good fit in a scheme that demands quicker linemen.
Dalton, 31, could quickly generate interest around the league, because there are a number of teams looking for interior defenders.
A ninth-year veteran, Dalton, at 6-feet-1 and 315 pounds, is a proven run-stopper. But he appeared in only two games for the Chiefs this season, because Edwards' defense is a one-gap scheme that places a premium on penetration. Dalton is more a classic, two-gap defender.
The Chiefs added veteran free agents James Reed and Ron Edwards in the offseason, players with whom Edwards was familiar and who are a better fit, and the tandem has started all four games. Dalton did not have a tackle or a sack in either of his appearances.
"Certain coaches, when they come in, they've got a certain player they like of a certain body type or personality," Dalton told the Kansas City Star. "And if you don't fit into that mold, you don't get to play."
Dalton is the second veteran defensive tackle released by the Chiefs this year, joining former second-round choice Junior Siavii, who was also a two-gap defender. In his two previous seasons, since he signed with the Chiefs as a free agent in 2004, Dalton started 27 games.
A former Eastern Michigan star, Dalton entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 1998. He has served stints with Baltimore (1998-2001), Denver (2002), Washington (2003) and Kansas City (2004-2006). In 129 appearances, including 55 starts, Dalton has 236 tackles, eight sacks, three forced fumbles, one recovery, 45 quarterback pressures and four pass deflections.
Dalton had three more seasons remaining on his contract with the Chiefs. His base salary for 2006 was $710,000 and, if he is not signed by another team, the Chiefs must pay him the full amount since he is a vested veteran.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
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