Chiefs land veteran LB Edwards

Updated: March 12, 2007, 12:11 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Veteran linebacker Donnie Edwards, who wore out his welcome in San Diego despite being one of the Chargers' most productive defenders, is being welcomed back by the team with which he began his NFL career.

Donnie Edwards
Edwards

One of the more sought after defenders remaining in the unrestricted free agent pool, Edwards on Saturday reached agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs on a three-year contract worth about $14 million.

The 11-year veteran was originally chosen by the Chiefs as a fourth-round selection in the 1996 draft. He signed with the Chargers as an unrestricted free agent in 2002.

Edwards, 33, is the second standout linebacker added by the Chiefs in recent days. Last week, Kansas City signed unrestricted free agent Napoleon Harris to a six-year contract. Clearly, coach Herm Edwards is determined to overhaul his linebacker corps in the offseason, after a 2006 campaign in which the Chiefs' defense statistically ranked 16th in the league.

Despite his age, and the fact the Chargers had tired of what they perceived as his excessive contract demands, Edwards drew considerable interest leaguewide in the opening days of the free agent signing period, and with good reason.

The former UCLA standout is a versatile defender, one who played inside linebacker in the San Diego 3-4 alignment, but who had performed well in the past as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. Harris is projected by most as the new middle linebacker for the Chiefs, so Edwards probably will move back to an outside slot in Kansas City.

No matter where he has aligned in the past, Edwards has been a consistent and durable playmaker. In 11 seasons, he has missed only two games, just one due to injury. And his resume is one of the most well-rounded among NFL linebackers over the past decade.

For his career, Edwards has 1,479 tackles, 21½ sacks, 27 interceptions, 51 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles and 10 recoveries. His 17 interceptions are the most by any linebacker in the league since 2002 and he led the Chargers in tackles in each of the past five seasons.

Edwards has posted 150-plus tackles five times in his career. But his interception and passes defensed totals also reflect his rare ability to drop and cover as well.

San Diego officials attempted to trade Edwards last spring and came close to a deal with the New Orleans Saints before deciding to retain him. He ended up starting in all 16 games on a San Diego defense that ranked 10th in the league, and registered 141 tackles, 2½ sacks and three interceptions.

Edwards has appeared in 174 games and started in 160 of them.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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