Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dissecting the Offense

Having looked at the defense in the last post, it's time to dissect the offense in hopes of better understanding the upcoming moves the Chiefs will make in free agency and the draft. 

The Chiefs have already made a major impact on the offensive front. With the signings of tight end Kevin Boss, right tackle Eric Winston, and backup quarterback Brady Quinn, the Chiefs have already sured up some question marks across the offensive side of the ball. But with 2011's 31st ranked offense residing in Kansas City, there is still plenty of room for improvement. 


None (... quarterback? ...)


As the text says above, the Chiefs were the second-worst offense in all of the NFL last season. Based off that information, one could conclude that the need for upgrades exist all across the offense. However, that's not necessarily true. It cannot be understated how important Jamaal Charles was to that offense. As far as upgrades (besides, once again, quarterback), there aren't all that many. Full back is a position the Chiefs could upgrade, having had the versatile Le'Ron McClain back there last season, now left with 2011 7th round pick Shane Bannon. Bannon is a prototypical lead blocker type, without the pass catching ability McClain offered last season. Another upgrade position could appear on the offensive line. Ryan Lilja got a bad rap last season, and although he was statistically sound, it's possible we could move Rodney Hudson to guard, and then Jon Asamoah could replace Lilja on the left side. Center would then become a priority, but there is a certain center out of Wisconsin that the Chiefs could draft in April and have an upgrade at that position. 


Remember last season when Jamaal Charles went down and our offense went into cardiac arrest? Well, if that happens this year, we do have Peyton Hillis but he is also coming off a season that featured numerous injuries by the big running back. And while Dexter McCluster has potential, he never did effectively fill in for the Pro Bowler. That's why I'd like a little more depth for the running back position. The other portion of our offense that needs a lot of depth is the offensive line. The O-Line only features six players on the roster that weren't practice squad players last season. Obviously, offensive line depth is imperative. 

Hopefully the combination of this post and the last one about the defense sheds some light on the moves the Chiefs make in the next month. But, like always, I bet we'll be surprised. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dissecting the Defense

With free agency having peaked and the draft quickly approaching, it's time to look at both sides of the Chiefs roster and examine the areas in which the team will look or should look for improvement. Today, we start with the defense.

Romeo Crennel, as defensive-minded a head coach as there is in the league, is in his first offseason as Chiefs head coach, and yet there haven't been a lot of moves of any significance made on defense. The only one really worth noting is the addition of CB Stanford Routt in preparing for the loss of Brandon Carr. And that addition came before the free agency period began. Since then, it's been a RB, TE, RT and QB. 

One has to believe that when Scott Pioli said the Chiefs "aren't done" at acquiring free agents, that it was about time to start turning the team's attention to the defensive side of the ball. And if not in free agency, then the draft will be the time to work on the defense. But where?


I wrote last week that the nose tackle position is one of importance, with Amon Gordon, recently resigned this offseason, and Jerrell Powe are the only two players on the depth chart that were on the team's 53 man roster last season. I even suggested Aubrayo Franklin, a free agent who spent last season with the Saints, as an option. It turns out that the Chiefs, according to ESPN AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, that the Chiefs are, in fact, interested in Franklin. And although it was pointed out to me last week in the comments section that Franklin has never played in the Chiefs defensive style, I still think the Chiefs should consider it. And if not during free agency, then drafting a nose tackle (a lot of Chiefs fans are high on Dontari Poe. I'm not one of them but I'm also not a draft expert so take it with a grain of salt). 


Looking at the Chiefs defensive roster, it's hard to look at any position (besides the immediate need of nose tackle) and see an issue. But inside linebacker is a position where an upgrade is possible. I know many Chiefs fans are Jovan Belcher fans, and I understand. Undrafted free agent out of Maine, gets his shot at the starting roster and does so the last two seasons; it's hard not to root for him. And I do believe he's better than Brandon Siler, who was competition before tearing his Achilles tendon during training camp. But an upgrade is possible, probably not through free agency (unless Jonathan Vilma becomes available and inexplicably doesn't suffer a suspension), but via the draft. Many people are linking Boston College LB Luke Kuechly to the Chiefs because of that reason. Kuechly has more upside, but like I said, it's hard not to like Belcher.


As the Chiefs learned last season, depth is essential at every position on the field. When Eric Berry was lost for the season, the Chiefs had to alternate between mediocre safeties for the rest of the season and the result was not good for the team. The Chiefs are even thinner now at safety than they were last year, so that position is in obvious need of depth. Inside linebacker is also in need of depth behind Derrick Johnson, where Cory Greenwood is the immediate backup; Greenwood has never started a game or played more than special teams or special subpackages. With Wallace Gillbery a free agent, defensive end is a position in need of depth behind Glenn Dorsey. Scott Pioli has drafted a cornerback in every season he's been in KC, so look for him to continue that streak this year, especially with Crennel's tendency to play a lot of five DB sets (which the Chiefs will see even more of with Peyton Manning now in the division). 

That's how the Chiefs defense looks like at this point in the offseason, and by dissecting the defense, we can get a better idea of where the Chiefs will go in next month's draft. 

Dissecting the Offense will be out soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Madden Cover Vote

For the second straight year, the Madden video game series is allowing fans to vote an athlete onto the cover of the game. Last year, new Chief Peyton Hillis pulled the upset, and beat out every other player in his path (including the Chiefs own candidate, Jamaal Charles) to the honored position as the face of the most popular NFL video game franchise on the planet.

This year, the Chiefs representative for the cover vote is wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Only franchised this offseason, there is no guarantee how long Bowe will remain with the team, but it's always nice to support one's own players. So if you want to vote for Dwayne Bowe, who is going up against Detroit's megatron, Calvin Johnson, here is the link.

To beat Johnson out in the first round, it's going to take a lot of votes. So it's a long shot to say the least. But looking back at the previous Madden covers, maybe it's a good thing if Bowe doesn't win it.

What's Next for the Chiefs Offseason?

On Monday, while attending the University of Iowa's Pro Day, Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli told Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star that the team is "planning and hoping to continue to sign players.”

And while Pioli could simply be referring to the additions of second and third stringers in the process of building up the team's training camp roster, I think that Pioli will have his eye on one particularly important position for the rest of the free agent period.

Look what Pioli has done in free agency so far: Brandon Carr's departure was imminent, or at least the organization was lead to believe, so Pioli went and signed Stanford Routt after he was released by the Raiders. Even after free agency began, Routt would probably have been the best free agent pick up the Chiefs could have made without spending the type of money the Cowboys and Rams did on Carr and Cortland Finnegan (that would be the $50 million + range).

Cornerback: Check

Once free agency began, Pioli began to fill immediate needs with upgrades. With Thomas Jones a free agent (and a washed up one at that), Pioli brought in and signed Peyton Hillis on a one-year deal. Hillis is by far better than Thomas Jones at this point in both their careers, and will be motivated by a one-year contract to play as hard as he can to earn the big bucks with either the Chiefs or some other suitor at year's end. The size of Hillis paired with the speed of Charles is a lethal combination.

Running back: Check

Next came finding a tight end. The only two tight ends on the roster are Tony Moeaki, coming off an ACL tear, and Jake O'Connell, who is seldom ever used. Pioli brings in Oakland's recently released Kevin Boss, and signs the promising young player to a contract. Not only is Boss, who is good at both run blocking and receiving, a great pair to Moeaki, but also a significant upgrade to last year's tight end options that included Anthony Becht and Leonard Pope (although I will admit, I am a Pope fan).

Tight end: Check

Now it's time for big one: Eric Winston. I'm sure I wasn't the only Chiefs fan out there that masochistically thought the Chiefs would stick with Barry Richardson no matter what anyone in scouting departments or statistic databases said. But that is no longer a worry because Pioli solved possibly the most glaring need on the team.

Right tackle: Check

And last but not least (possibly least), Pioli brought in quarterback competition/Cassel's backup quarterback. His name is Brady Quinn, and he actually turned down more money to stay with the Broncos for a chance to compete for the starting job in KC (which makes you wonder what Pioli told Quinn behind closed doors ...). Either way you look at it, we don't have to select an over-valued quarterback in the first two rounds and we're no longer an injury away from the Tyler Palko Experience.

Quarterback: Semi-Check

But there is still one position of vital importance to the team that Pioli has yet to address: Nose tackle.

Since the Chiefs switched over to a 3-4 defense, the team has been in need of a dominate nose tackle to fill the void in the middle of the defensive line. The Chiefs have tried with Ron Edwards, Shaun Smith, and Kelly Gregg. But those have all been stop gaps, short term fixes for what needs to be a long term solution. Sure, the Chiefs drafted Jerrell Powe in the sixth round last season, but he never saw the field. And the Chiefs can take that route again, drafting a nose tackle, possibly even with their first round pick.

But if the Chiefs don't want to have any glaring need to force their hand in the draft, then they would address this need in free agency. Most of the good nose tackles on the market have been locked up already - Sione Pouha, Paul Soliai, Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Brodrick Bunkley - but there happens to be one particular free agent left that the Chiefs should take some interest in:

Aubrayo Franklin: Remember this guy? He was regarded as one of the most coveted nose tackles in free agency by Chiefs fans everywhere. Yet he signed with the Saints on just a one-year deal in a defense that doesn't really play with a nose tackle and didn't take advantage of his skills. That's why he ended up with only 17 tackles on the season, his lowest since his days back in Baltimore in 2004. I imagine the price tag will be lower for Franklin this year if Pioli wants to kick the tires on this 6'1" 317 lb nose tackle.

Any other nose tackles on the market that the Chiefs should be interested in? Or is a Dontari Poe or a Alameda Ta'amu the best solution for the Chiefs need at nose tackle?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Manning Goes to Denver

The AFC West just got a whole lot more difficult for the Chiefs in 2012 with the news that Peyton Manning has informed his agent to get a deal done with the Denver Broncos. This was the worst case scenario for the Chiefs as far as the Manning sweepstakes were concerned: not only did the Chiefs not even get a visit with the future Hall of Famer, but he is now a division opponent on a team that won 8 games in 2011 with Tim Tebow (who is now reportedly on the trading block).

I've seen a lot of anti-Manning rhetoric on Twitter today by Chiefs fans, feeling scorned by Manning. And while those hurt feelings are fair, I do not share their feelings. I am not bitter at Manning, I am not mad at Manning. I'm not going to scream profanities at the top of my lungs because Manning made a decision. I respect Manning's decision (although I am confused as to why he didn't consider the Chiefs), and I respect Manning as a player. But the biggest reason I am not saying that Manning won't make a difference with the Broncos is because I don't believe. I can't just think that Peyton would have been a Super Bowl difference for the Chiefs and not make a significant impact on the team that won the AFC West last season.

The Chiefs have had a great offseason so far; they've added a solid tight end, a fantastic right tackle, and replaced Brandon Carr as well as they could. And while Chiefs fans might be satisfied with the Chiefs free agent acquisitions so far, the Broncos just added one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. I give the Broncos the edge in that department.

And it's not just Manning's credentials that are a concern, but his success against the AFC West. He has a .679 winning percentage, a 84.5 passer rating, and has four post season wins against AFC West teams. Two of those wins come against the Chiefs. So not only does Manning almost guarantee at least 10 wins a season, but he comes to the Broncos with a history of success against his new division opponents.

I would never admit that I am scared of just one player. But I will admit that I am very concerned about the Denver Broncos for about the next three seasons. The Chiefs are a good, young team, and they have the pieces to be good for quite some time. Manning didn't do them any favors, however, by joining another good, young team. Not to mention that it seems the Chiefs now have the worst QB in the division.

I'm not saying that the Chiefs won't go to the playoffs with Manning in the division. They could go to the playoffs every single year that Manning is a Bronco, that's how good I think the Chiefs can be. But the path to a division title just became a lot harder, especially in comparison to what it was before I ate lunch today.

Now the Chiefs need to add some defensive free agents.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bye Bye Barry: Chiefs Add Winston and Quinn

Another day in free agency culminates in two more signings for the Kansas City Chiefs. The first being possibly the most important signing of the offseason for the Chiefs.

Eric Winston, who was released by the Texans before the start of free agency, has spent the last three days in Kansas City visiting with Scott Pioli and the Chiefs. If Winston left town without a deal, there was no way one was going to happen. The Chiefs made sure that didn't happen.

Right tackle was the most glaring need for the Chiefs this offseason, having put up with the mediocrity that is Barry Richardson. And mediocrity is probably the kindest word I could think of. According to Pro Football Focus, Barry Richardson was one of the worst right tackles in the NFL. In their unique style of statistical analysis, Richardson came in at -39.1. In comparison, Branden Albert was a +4.4.

Eric Winston, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the best right tackles currently in the NFL, and has helped sure up the Texans offensive line since his rookie season; an offensive line that has lead the way for Arian Foster as he made mince meat of defenses. On Pro Football Focus, Winston graded out at a +11.1. So in addition to being one of the most sought after free agents of 2012, Winston also offers a +50 statistical difference over Richardson.

And although the terms of the deal haven't been revealed, one has to believe that no matter what the Chiefs agreed to pay Winston, it was well worth it. Why?

Jamaal Charles just got a lot more dangerous.

The other signing the Chiefs accomplished today was Brady Quinn. Once the 22nd overall selection by the Cleveland Browns, Quinn struggled in his first few seasons and was eventually traded to Denver in exchange for Peyton Hillis (and yes, they are now both on the Chiefs. Ironic).

Most people are going to see this move as just signing a backup quarterback. And while that is the most likely outcome, I see this as more. Not only does Quinn become the best backup the Chiefs have had under the Pioli regime, but Quinn also becomes competition for Cassel.

Yes, I know this sounds crazy, but I believe Quinn has starter potential. Granted, he didn't start a game in his two seasons in Denver, but his potential should not go unnoticed. He had enough potential to be drafted in the first round of 2007, and that potential just doesn't go away. Sure, Quinn was bad in Cleveland at Quarterback, but who hasn't been? Cleveland is the place QBs go to die, and I believe Quinn was just a victim of circumstance. Let's not forget a couple of other failed Browns personnel we currently have with the Chiefs (Romeo Crennel, Brian Daboll).

Time will tell for Quinn, but it's almost a certainty Winston will be an immediate impact when the season starts. I really like both signings, actually, all the Chiefs signings this offseason. The next priority: Nose tackle.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Like a Boss: Day 3 of Free Agency

Kevin Boss Kevin Boss #87 of the Oakland Raiders scores on a thirty-seven yard pass play beating Chris Gocong #51 of the Cleveland Browns to the endzone in the third quarter of an NFL football game Coliseum on October 16, 2011 in Oakland, California.

On Thursday evening, the Chiefs signed free agent tight end, Kevin Boss, to a 3 year $9 million contract. Boss, who spent last year with the Raiders, will serve as a complementary piece to Tony Moeaki, and offer more of a receiving threat than any of the tight ends the Chiefs were left with last season after Moeaki was lost with a torn ACL.

Originally a fifth round selection of the New York Giants in 2007, Boss filled in for an injured Jeremy Shockey during the Giants Super Bowl run. In his four seasons in NY, Boss had 1,600 yards and 18 TDs. Boss would tack on 368 yards and 3 TDs with Oakland in 2011.

Boss represents the second free agent pilfered from the Oakland Raiders, who have had a lot of salary cap casualties this offseason, including cornerback Stanford Routt, who the Chiefs signed earlier. Pairing Boss with Moeaki is a good idea, but I still think selecting one in the upcoming draft would be the right thing to do, considering Moeaki's history of knee injuries.

Other News

Mike Tolbert, free agent running back formerly with the San Diego Chargers, visited with the Chiefs on Thursday, even after the Chiefs signed Peyton Hillis to a one year deal on Wednesday. And although Tolbert left without a contract, Kent Babb reported "Told Mike Tolbert's visit went very well. He left w/out a contract, but he's very much in the mix with the Chiefs. They showed him big time," via Twitter.

If the Chiefs add Tolbert and have him accompany Hillis and a healthy Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs backfield could return to its league-leading ways, as it was in 2010.

A player that could also help the Chiefs running game is right tackle Eric Winston. Winston visited with the Chiefs late on Thursday, and has said he will continue to meet with the Chiefs on Friday. This is an excellent sign, since Winston had a scheduled visit with Baltimore on Friday but is deciding to continue talks with the Chiefs. Hopefully that means a contract is close and fans should find out tomorrow whether the Chiefs signed him or not.

The Significance of Losing Brandon Carr

Yesterday, Brandon Carr agreed to a 5 year, $50.1 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys. According to ESPN, the contract details that Carr will receive $26.5 million guaranteed, including a $10 million signing bonus. His base salary will be $1.2 million in 2012, $14.3 million in 2013, $7.5 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and $9.1 million in 2016.

For comparisons sake, the Chiefs and Brandon Flowers agreed to a six-year, $49.35 million contract during the 2011 season. The deal contained $22 million guaranteed. So Brandon Carr is now officially making more than this former teammate Flowers without ever having played as a #1 corner in the NFL.

As a Chiefs fan who has had the privilege of watching Carr grow into a high priced corner in front of my eyes, I'm happy for the guy and I wish him nothing but the best (except when the Cowboys play the Chiefs those rare occasions).

While Brandon Carr leaving the Chiefs seemed a certainty ever since Stanford Routt was brought in, the significance of his departure should not go unrecognized. Although one could argue Carr was out the door a month ago, now that he is, it's time to look at why Carr leaving is an important one.

The Chiefs are now in Pioli's fourth free agent period as General Manager. And since Pioli has been in KC, the organization has been about drafting, developing that homegrown talent, and retaining that homegrown talent. Say what you want about Pioli when free agency hits in March every year, but he has done a fantastic job of retaining the team's best players before they hit the market.

Derrick Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Brandon Flowers, Ryan Succop and even Andy Studebaker have all been given extensions during seasons. Both Tamba Hali and Dwayne Bowe received the franchise tag; Hali then signed a multi-year extension and Bowe is presumably in the discussions for one as we speak. Until yesterday, Pioli had not let young homegrown talent escape the confines of Arrowhead via free agency.

This is saying something considering the house cleaning that went on when Pioli and former head coach Todd Haley arrived in KC in 2009. Bernard Pollard was gone, Larry Johnson cut, and players left and right not classified as the 'right 53' were shown the door. The good, young players that had a future in the NFL were kept and continued to be kept.

Brandon Carr was part of that 'right 53,' he just wasn't on the right end of a plausible contract in Kansas City. But I guess this is all just part of the process. Why else would other teams want to pay Chiefs players that kind of money? It's a sign that the Chiefs have crossed that threshold from a developing team to a contending team with solid players. It's not like Carr was a first round pick; he was a DII player taken in the fifth round that the Chiefs felt could be a good corner in the league. And they were right.

Sure, Pioli inherited quite a bit of individual talent when he came to KC, but he also inherited a bad team. By doing things his way, he has managed to keep that individual talent while continuing to build a good team. And while losing Brandon Carr hurts, it happens every year to every other team in the NFL. In the next few years, we might continue to lose a good, young homegrown player here and there.

But not if Pioli has anything to do with it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chiefs Get Peyton [Hillis] and other Free Agent Moves

Day two of free agency was even busier for the Chiefs than day one, and it came with the signing of a new player and the loss of a couple.

Late this afternoon, the Chiefs made their first free agent splash of the year (besides Stanford Routt) by signing former star running back and current face of the Madden franchise, Peyton Hillis, to a one year, $3 million deal.

The Chiefs had seemingly made it a priority to sign a big back to complement the smaller speedster, Jamaal Charles, in 2012; this was made apparent by scheduling visits with both Hillis and San Diego's bowling ball, Mike Tolbert. Hillis is one year removed from a 1,000 yard rushing season that also featured 11 rushing TDs. Hillis followed it up, however, with a dismal season in 2011, part due to injury, part due to attitude. Either way, it cost him about 500 yards and a lot of potential money.

Also, it came out this offseason that Hillis, in 2011, had considered giving up football for the pursuit of joining the Central Intelligence Agency as an operative. This rumor immediately gave doubt to Hillis's mental aptitude and fortitude (although I think Hillis would have made a fantastic spy ...).

Say what you want about Hillis, but he's about 250 lbs of pure muscle and would as soon run through you as he would run around you. I like the signing a lot, and as they say, there's no such thing as a bad one year deal.

Other Moves

Chiefs former cornerback, Brandon Carr, officially signed with the Dallas Cowboys today. After releasing Terrence Newman before free agency, the Cowboys were looking to replace him quickly, and they were high on Carr. High enough, in fact, to give Carr a 5 year $50.1 million deal. Carr finally got the money he wanted, and the opportunity to be the main corner as well. And while the leaving of Carr is a significant one for the Chiefs, not just for this coming season but historically (I will talk about this in a separate post tomorrow), I wish him nothing but the best and want to thank him for some great memories in a Chiefs uniform.

Good luck BC.

The Chiefs also lost free agent full back Le'Ron McClain to the San Diego Chargers, where he signed a 3 year deal. McClain was under utilized in his one season in Kansas City, and I imagine Norv Turner can use McClain properly in an offensive system, maybe even replacing Tolbert's role of a receiving big guy. Good luck to you too McClain.

John Carlson, who was supposed to visit the Chiefs, never quite made it to Arrowhead. The tight end was convinced by Vikings personnel to not visit the Chiefs, and instead to accept their offer. Carlson decided not to leave the KCI airport, and instead to take a $25 million deal.

But when one tight end turns you down, another one schedules a visit. That tight end being Kevin Boss, who spent last season with the Oakland Raiders. Boss had 28 receptions for 368 yards and 3 TDs last season.

Kyle Orton to Cowboys

This afternoon, near playoff quarterback Kyle Orton signed a 3-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys to be Tony Romo's backup. It was widely debated whether the Chiefs should bring back Orton to compete/replace Matt Cassel, but it looks like Scott Pioli never shared that same mindset.

I hold no ill will towards Orton, and would like to thank him for the memories. Whether it be dislocating his finger on his first pass attempt with the Chiefs, or helping the Chiefs beat the team that released him in the middle of the season, it was one wild ride. My favorite memory, however, I put below.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Free Agentpocalypse Now: Day 1

With free agency now upon us, it's time to look at some of the free agents that have been connected to the Chiefs, either by rumor or by scheduling a visit. Here's how the free agent list looks so far:

Eric Winston:
A surprise cut by the Houston Texans the day before free agency opened up, Winston will be a hot commodity. Winston is considered a Pro-Bowl caliber right tackle, and it just so happens that the Chiefs could use a right tackle. He had a visit scheduled with the Dolphins, but if Winston doesn't strike a deal with Miami, he is scheduled to meet with the Chiefs and then Rams.

Mike Tolbert:
The San Diego bowling ball of a running back is being pursued by several teams, including the Chiefs. The Chiefs already have the speed with Jamaal Charles, but they need the bulk complement; that's exactly what Tolbert can offer. The Chiefs are trying to schedule a visit with the FA, and according to a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, he's hearing that Tolbert "ends up a Chief."

Peyton Hillis
Speaking of big backs, the current face of the Madden video game franchise is reportedly visiting the Chiefs soon. Although Hillis suffered from injuries and an incredibly negative attitude in 2011, a change of venue might do him good to get himself back to his hit-sticking form from a year ago.

John Carlson
Carlson is a tight end that was released by the Seahawks this offseason. Carlson would offer a good complement to Moeaki, kind of like the Moneyball-esque tight end rotation the Patriots practiced in 2011. Unfortunately, Carlson, much like Moeaki, is coming of a history of injuries. Nevertheless, in his three seasons in Seattle, Carlson has 137 catches, 1,519 yards and 13 TDs.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Analysts have liked to link the Chiefs to Green-Ellis several times since it became clear the Patriots weren't going to try that hard to retain the running back. The back who's never fumbled, although not the pounder Hillis and Tolbert are, would offer a great option as a change of pace to Charles like Thomas Jones did for the first few weeks of 2010. Although no visit is scheduled, look for one in the near future.

Marcus McNeill
It's been rumored that the Chiefs have reached out to Pro Bowl tackle Marcus McNeill, following his release by the San Diego Chargers. He would be absolutely coveted if it wasn't for his injury. Coming off a neck injury that shortened his 2011 season, he has not been medically cleared to return to football. So if a team, including the Chiefs, wants to reach out to McNeill, then buyer beware. I mean, after all, only Manning can have a career-threatening neck injury and return no questions asked.

Where the Chiefs Stand on Manning?

This time last week, I was a happy guy. The weather seemed warmer, the air seemed fresher, the clouds seemed fluffier. And why shouldn't I be happy? This time last week, it seemed the planets had aligned and the football gods had finally smiled upon the Kansas City Chiefs. This time last week, I honestly thought Peyton Manning would be a Kansas City Chief.

A lot can change over the course of a week; but when you really think about it, nothing really changed at all. The only thing that really happened is that Chiefs fans were reminded they were Chiefs fans, and that nothing good ever happens to them.

Manning is the most sought-after free agent in NFL history, and for a brief couple of days, Chiefs fans thought they had finally caught their white whale. But then the unthinkable happened: the Broncos became the favorite.

It happened on a Friday night. The Broncos came out of relative obscurity in the Manning-chase to being the first team to get a scheduled visit. It lasted about six hours, and every minute Manning stayed in the Broncos headquarters was its own separate abomination to Chiefs fans everywhere.

Where was the Chiefs visit? The same source that announced Manning's surprise trip to Denver also reported that Manning still had visits left with the Cardinals and Dolphins. No word, however, on the Chiefs.

Chiefs fans were anxious to hear something on Manning, anything about Manning. As the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for. After meeting with the Cardinals on Sunday, the Denver Post reported that the Chiefs and Seahawks were out of the Manning race. The story was quickly picked up by ESPN, and the hope of most Chiefs fans were deflated like a popped balloon.

But the rollercoaster of emotion doesn't stop there. Shortly after that report came out, Doug Farrar of Yahoo Sports' Shutdown Corner tweeted: "Just talked to a reliable source in KC -- the Chiefs aren't out of it either. Productive meetings between KC and Peyton's people."

While that news briefly cheered up the Chiefs faithful, it wouldn't last long. The continued no-visit situation the Chiefs were in with Manning continues, all while the Dolphins and Titans had or are expecting visits from the legend. But why? Why are the Chiefs being snubbed by Manning? Why wouldn't Manning come to a situation where quick success would be all but a guarantee?

Nick Wright let us in yesterday on what he was hearing regarding that topic: "The one reason I keep hearing that Peyton won't visit KC is that Pioli has always had beef with Condon and Condon's now sticking it to Pioli." And while some fans might have trouble believing that, ask yourself, what other reason would Manning have of not even wanting to visit Kansas City? It's reasonable to believe there's another reason, but it's also likely that Wright has heard the truth.

To sum up this post, I have no idea what's going on with the Manning situation, and have no idea where Manning will land when he decides on a destination. But unfortunately, it looks less and less likely Manning will have an arrowhead on his helmet next season.

A week can change everything.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Personnel Preference

I'm going to catch up on a few personnel moves the Chiefs have made over the last week or so. I do so now because free agency starts tomorrow and all hell is about to break lose.

Back on February 24th, the Chiefs signed free agent defensive back, Jacques Reeves. Reeves hasn't played in the NFL since 2009, which he did so with the Houston Texans before suffering a broken leg. Reeves started all 16 games in 2008.

On March 6th, the Chiefs released veteran linebacker Demorrio Williams. A good example of how things can change so quickly in the NFL, Williams went from starting the majority of the 2009 season at middle linebacker to only playing sparingly and on special teams throughout the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Used as a motivational tool for Derrick Johnson under the Todd Haley era, Williams provided competition but eventually lost out to the now-Pro Bowl Johnson. It didn't take long for the 31 year old veteran to find another home, quickly finding one in San Diego on a one-year deal.

Defensive lineman Amon Gordon, who played his way onto the 53 man roster after a training camp invite last summer, received a two-year deal this afternoon. The figures on the deal haven't been announced yet, but this sounds like a good deal. Gordon provided need depth last season to the defensive line. Gordon finished the 2011 season with 23 tackles and 2 sacks.

UPDATE: Jovan Belcher received a second round tender today by the Chiefs. This makes Belcher, the Chiefs inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson, a restricted free agent, and will pay him just under $2 million for the 2012 season. Belcher had 87 tackles last season.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Peyton Watch 2012

After visiting the Broncos on Friday, Peyton Manning in scheduled to meet with the Cardinals today, and then the Dolphins soon afterward. The Seahawks are also doing everything in their power to schedule a meeting with Manning as well.

Let's just hope that airplane of his lands in KCI very soon.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pessimism over Peyton


There have been few people more supportive of bringing Peyton Manning to the Chiefs than myself. I was on board as soon as the Colt's finished in last place and earned (?) the number one pick (Andrew Luck) in the upcoming draft. It became clear that Manning would no longer fit into the Colt's future plans, and fans began lobbying for the four-time MVP to join their team.

The media, always a reliable source (sarcasm), begin making their lists of the best fits for Manning. Kansas City, oddly, got little to no respect as a potential landing spot. Yet, to Chiefs fans, the match seemed perfect. We have the offensive weapons, we have the defense, we have the cap room; all it seemed we didn't have was any national press coverage (which, ironically, could be one of the reasons Peyton chooses KC).

But as much as I would love Manning to choose the Chiefs, it's easy to get caught up in the hype and forget that the chances of the Chiefs landing Manning is still a long-shot.

The future Hall of Famer put that in perspective for the Chiefs when he visited AFC West rival Denver Broncos last night. I think the odds of Manning actually going to the Broncos is slim, and that KC offers a better chance for success than Denver, and I'm not alone. Bill Williamson of ESPN debated Denver vs. KC and just by looking at the comparisons, KC seems the better fit. Also, Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride broke down why the Chiefs are a better fit for Manning.

And while these reasons seem obvious to Chiefs fans, it's not just a two-horse race. While the Jets and Redskins checked themselves out of the Manning sweep stakes last night (Redskins essentially traded 3 first round picks for Robert Griffin III and the Jets inexplicably extended Mark Sanchez's contract), there are still other obvious contenders: Dolphins, Cardinals and Seahawks.

If you don't think that those other three teams offer serious competition, think again. The Cardinals and Dolphins both have visits scheduled with Manning. The Chiefs, however, have no scheduled visit announced.

This means nothing, and yet it means something. To Chiefs fans, those who believed, or at least wanted to believe, the rumors circulating through the football world that the Chiefs were the only team to offer Manning's agent (former Chiefs offensive lineman Tom Condon) a completed contract on Thursday, then this means a damper was put on your weekend.

Personally, I think the Chiefs have as good a chance as any team to land Manning. I also think that Manning coming to the Chiefs is too good to be true.

Good things just don't happen to Chiefs fans. Between the no playoff wins in almost two decades, to the no back-to-back division titles in forever, to the lack of big free agent acquisitions, to the inability to ever draft a franchise QB; the football gods do not shine their light often on Kansas City (sports gods in general I suppose).

Is there downside to signing Manning? Absolutely. There is no guarantee that Manning will be healthy by the time the season starts. Without that guarantee, it would be understandable if teams, including the Chiefs, weren't willing to go all-in on signing the free agent.

And let's not beat around the bush; Manning would be a temporary solution. Essentially, a band-aid of the biggest proportions. And bringing in a band-aid solution at the QB position seems like something Pioli would not do. Afterall, in an interview with a KC news station in January, Pioli said: "I didn't come here to win one championship. I didn't come here to get the quick fix, be done and move onto the next job. This is where our family is. This is where I want to spend the rest of my career."

But a quick fix is exactly what Manning would offer. And the Chiefs seem OK with that.

"He's one of the greatest players in the history of the league," Hunt told NBC Sports Network Friday. "He's also an incredible person. We feel really good about the team we have in Kansas City going into the 2012 season, but we'll look for any opportunity to improve and, of course, that includes Peyton Manning.

"I would think that he will be looking for the situation that fits him best. I don't know how important money will be to him, but I'm sure it will be part of the equation. But he's going to be looking for an environment that he's comfortable in."

While I've already gotten my hopes up (thanks to comments such as Hunt's), I do so with caution. That is what I recommend for all other Chiefs fans out there. Approach the quest for this coveted free agent with pessimism. And if the Chiefs don't get Peyton, then you can come up with excuses and reasons why the Chiefs and Manning weren't a good fit.

When it seems too good to be true, it usually is. On the other hand, there's a first time for everything. Which will it be?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Step One

Today, a reminiscent Jim Irsay and a grateful but hopeful towards the future Peyton Manning, split what from has been a dominant decade and a half of football for the Indianapolis Colts this afternoon in a press conference where both owner and quarterback seemed to get a little choked up.

While many sports analysts saw the sad ending of a legendary era, I saw Step One completed in the #Pray4Pey campaign, a campaign (started on Twitter) that I have designed to help bring the living legend quarterback to the Kansas City Chiefs. And while Manning said "nothing lasts forever," I tend to disagree. Lombardi trophies last forever, and that's exactly what a healthy (or 75% healthy) Peyton Manning can bring to the already rising Chiefs.

As Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star said to ESPN today, Manning would be that final piece to "put them over the top." Sam Mellinger, also of the Kansas City Star, said that the Chiefs "must do everything to get Manning."

While it's ultimately Manning's decision, Step One has now officially been complete. Step Two - Peyton meets with the Chiefs - should be right around the corner.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dwayne Bowe Franchised

In a move that everyone saw coming, the Chiefs used their lone franchise tag on free agent wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe.

Teams had until 3:00 central time to make their franchise tag decisions and the large majority, 21 teams, decided to participate. One quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, three defensive ends, one linebacker, three safeties, one cornerback, five kickers, and one punter received the franchise tag. Of those 21 players, only Drew Brees received the exclusive rights franchise tag, meaning he's not going anywhere. The other 20 received a non-exclusive tag, meaning he can still negotiate going to another team, but it was cost that team two first-round draft picks. A hefty price to say the least.

But perhaps this is what Bowe wants.

It's not uncommon for teams to use the franchise tag, and the Chiefs did it last year as well with OLB Tamba Hali. Hali and the Chiefs were eventually able to work out a long-term contract after the lockout ended, and the two parties seem very happy. The Chiefs press release once the tag was applied on Hali spoke of the two sides still working on a long-term resolution (and yes, I thank Arrowhead Pride for these thoughts. I would hyperlink the page, but the site is down):

"Tamba is a key contributor to our football team, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him both personally and professionally," Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said in a statement released by the team. "We want Tamba to remain a member of the Chiefs, and we will continue to work together with the hope of reaching a long-term agreement."

If you've read the statement that Pioli came out with today, it doesn't sound nearly as hopeful. 

"Today was the league’s deadline to designate a franchise player and we felt it was in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs to place the tag on Dwayne."

As anti-climatic as the franchise tag placed on Bowe was, this lackluster response was probably the most surprising. Not just looking at the Chiefs statement last year, you can look around the league and see how the Chiefs statement this year is quite the discrepancy between other statements offered around the league by team officials. For example, here's how the Patriots addressed their tag recipient, Wes Welker, today:

"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007," the team said in a statement. "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."

While the speculation can now commence if the Chiefs and Bowe can reach a long-term agreement, it is almost a certainly that Bowe will be around for the 2012 season (and the first year of the Peyton Manning era [fingers crossed]), and the franchise tag will pay him handsomely. About $9.4 million to be more precise. 

Was Bowe worth it? I absolutely think so. He's come along way since the days of his doubtful future in 2010, and his numbers have been excellent. Check them out yourself:

Career Numbers: 75 games played, 356 catches, 4,927 yards, 36 TDs

Saturday, March 3, 2012


The NFL world, less than a week away from the Peyton Manning and Colts $28 million deadline, is busy trying to predict where the future Hall of Famer will play his next game. And out of the mist like some crazy Stephen King movie comes the name of the organization we all know and love: the Kansas City Chiefs.

What started last week as a 'trendy' pick has now caught fire, and many sports analysts are calling the Chiefs the "perfect match" for the 35 year old phenom.

Elliot Harrison of was actually the one who used the words "perfect match" in his article on Thursday, in which he looked at all the teams considered in the running for Peyton Manning and why they weren't as good of a fit as the Chiefs.

"So of course Manning is conflicted. Why not go to a team that already knows the potential of its own quarterback, and knows Manning is a clear upgrade (Chiefs)? Why not go to a team that -- barring every important guy going on IR -- has the parts to compete in its conference now (Chiefs)? Why not go to a team that, despite how little this might mean to Manning at this stage of his career, can afford to pay him what he deserves (Chiefs)?"

On Friday, Bill Williamson, the ESPN blog writer for the AFC West, wrote that the Chiefs were a "good fit" for Manning. And while "good fit" might not sound as good as "perfect match," don't let the wording fool you; Williamson is highly convinced that the Chiefs are a major contender to land Manning. Citing the Joe Montana trade of the early 90s, he made the point that the Chiefs are a Manning away from potential greatness of the highest sort.

"If the Chiefs end up signing Manning, it won’t be the first time the organization brought in a living legend at the end of his career after he suffered a serious injury. The Chiefs traded for San Francisco’s Joe Montana in 1993 ...

"In addition to appealing offensive weapons, the Chiefs have the makings of a strong defense. A healthy Manning would immensely help any team. But Manning could be a difference-maker in Kansas City. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said adding Manning would make the Chiefs -- who finished 7-9 in 2011 despite major injury issues -- “the clear favorite to win the AFC West” in 2012 ...

"There are a lot of reasons this pairing makes sense. If it happens, the Chiefs will be at the center of the NFL universe."

That sounds good doesn't it?

I've already expressed my thoughts on Manning (might or might not be the last time I hyperlink this post. I did a darn good job on it) and have even started the #Pray4Pey campaign on Twitter to help bring Peyton Manning to the Chiefs (follow me on Twitter link); so, I won't talk too much about why I believe Manning will/should come to the Chiefs (and if you are concerned about his arm, check out this video that was 'leaked' to Chris Mortensen last night as is making its way around ESPN this morning). Except for one reason:

He would be the first Chiefs player to have hosted Saturday Night Live (did not research on this, just a safe assumption I suppose). 

If you haven't seen his opening monologue, check it out here. And for the famous (infamous) United Way skit Peyton Manning did, you can just click here. Both videos are extremely funny and after re-watching them, I want Manning in KC even more. 


Friday, March 2, 2012

Where Will Brandon Carr Land?

Miles Austin and Brandon Carr - Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs

With the NFL moving towards a quarterback-oriented league, the cornerback position is likewise becoming increasingly valued. For example, the cornerback franchise tag price is the third highest in the NFL ($10.431M - $10.832M), only behind QBs and defensive ends. 

So it should come as no surprise that many of the league's franchise tags are being used on defensive backs. Yesterday, it was Brett Grimes, cornerback from Atlanta. This morning, it was Tyvon Branch (yes, I know he's a safety; I did say defensive backs) and then conflicting reports from and ESPN that Cortland Finnegan, cornerback from the Titans, will also be receiving a franchise tag

If it wasn't for the Stanford Routt signing by the Chiefs, I think the Chiefs would be doing everything possible to retain their second corner, Brandon Carr. And although the Chiefs higher-ups are claiming that bringing in Routt has had no effect on their efforts to bring back Carr, you have to believe that the price will be too high considering they grabbed a fairly inexpensive Routt. 

With all teams wanting good defensive backs to try to slow down the juggernaut of the NFL passing game, it is fair to wonder what team's uniform Carr will be wearing next season. Here are a few rumored destinations:

Dallas Cowboys

According to multiple reports, the Cowboys would be considered the front-runner for Carr once free agency starts later this month. According to Pro Football Weekly, the Cowboys would love for Carr to hit the market and that the Cowboys could go "all in" to sign Carr and replace Terrance Newman at the left cornerback position. 

With Jerry Jones and his seemingly infinite pockets, the Cowboys would make sense to land Carr, and would not be afraid of overpaying. So look for the Cowboys to go hard for Carr, especially coming off the 23rd ranked pass defensive effort in 2011.

Detroit Lions

This speculation is based off a couple of things. One: the Lions were the 22nd ranked pass defense in 2011 and gave up nearly 1,000 passing yards in their final two games, including a playoff loss to Drew Brees and the Saints and a regular season loss to Matt Flynn (!) and the Packers. 

Two: Brandon Carr is from the area. He was born in Flint, Michigan, attended college at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and his family would be able to see the hometown kid play with the hometown team. 

The catch is, with the Lions having had many high draft picks over the years, they are having salary cap troubles, and the cost of bringing in Carr might be out of the question. As Lions GM, Martin Mayhew, said late last month: “We don’t anticipate being in the top part of the (free agency) market."

Kansas City Chiefs

I know what you're thinking. I said above and in other posts on this blog that the Stanford Routt signing almost assuredly means that Carr will pursue free agency. But the Chiefs have yet to franchise any player yet, and if they are close to a deal with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, or even considering letting him test the market, then the Chiefs could still bring back Carr and feature one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL. So why not?