Chiefs Update: Things Will Not Stay Quiet

Until the NFL Scouting Combines begin next week in Indianapolis, the NFL is generally quiet this time of year and the Chiefs are no exception.

However, things will be heating up at One Arrowhead Drive over the next week or two. In the interim, here is what we hearing.

*As we reported yesterday, the Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers continue to keep the rumor mill active with a potential trade involving running back Larry Johnson and wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The two sides have denied the trade but a league source tells Warpaint Illustrated that Burress is on the block and the Chiefs are a team that has shown interest. How much is still an unknown.

The rumored deal would send the Chiefs #1 draft pick of a year ago, Larry Johnson to the Steelers for Burress but Kansas City would also have to part ways with their 30th pick in the first round in this Aprils draft. It sounds like a reasonable deal.

The Chiefs don't generally draft well in the early rounds so giving up their first round pick for Burress would be a wise decision if the two sides can agree on a deal. Burress would instantly become the Chiefs best wide receiver and most talented since Otis Taylor.

Burress had a poor season in Pittsburgh catching only four touchdown passes. He is entering the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie. He is schedules to make $1.9 million and the Chiefs would have to absorb that amount to acquire him.

* Though I'm convinced the Chiefs won't be active in free agency, especially on defense, rumors persist in recent days that might not be the case. It appears the Chiefs have their eyes set on trying to acquire Philadelphia Eagles Cornerback Troy Vincent.

Vincent would be an outstanding addition to the Chiefs roster. If they could land the veteran cornerback, the Chiefs would have a solid and versatile group of cornerbacks who could easily adapt to Gunther Cunninghams new defensive schemes and sets. Cunningham needs corners that can play bump and run in order for his defense to be effective. A combination of Warfield, McCleon and Vincent would make for an outstanding trio or cornerbacks on one roster.

Eric Warfield, who has yet to play his best NFL football, would be one starter and Vincent would supplant Dexter McCleon on the other side. Though McCleon tied for the team lead in interceptions with six, he's better suited at covering the slot receivers.

McCleon was exposed in the second half of the season. He does not have blazing speed but under Greg Robinson's defensive schemes he was not allowed to use all of his skills. He can cover receivers one on one very well but often sat too far back in coverage and was often burned.

Vincent is part of a pair of potential free agent cornerbacks who might bolt Philadelphia. Bobby Taylor has already informed the Eagles that he won't be back next year. Both he and Vincent threatened hold outs before training camp last year but Vincent signed a one-year deal and Taylor honored the final year of his deal.

The Chiefs showed interest in Taylor last season and explored a possible trade with the Eagles but the discussions never took off. Now the Chiefs could sign either cornerback.

If the Chiefs are interested in Vincent, expect current Chiefs linebacker Shawn Barber to help recruit Vincent to the Chiefs. Barber played the 2002 season in Philadelphia and he could be an asset in the recruitment of Vincent.

* Contract talks with safety Jerome Woods continue. At one point, the Chiefs appeared close to a deal with Woods a couple of weeks ago but now the sides might be farther apart.

The problem with the Chiefs shelling out so much money for Woods is the fact that he might only be able to play another two or three seasons. Woods is coming off a career year in Kansas City and he earned his first Pro-Bowl appearance in 2003.

What's even more remarkable was the fact that he showed no ill effects from the broken leg he suffered in 2002. He worked his tail off and came back last year with a renewed vigor and passion for the game.

With Gunther Cunningham now the Chiefs new defensive coordinator, Woods chances to re-sign with Kansas City appear better than they would have if Robinson was still around.

Woods flew in from Memphis for Cunningham's initial news conference so that would appear that if he and his agent can work out a deal, Woods will likely play for Kansas City for the conceivable future.

If the Chiefs don't sign Woods before February 24th, they could franchise him. But in order for Kansas City to consider that option; they'd sacrifice any chance of acquiring any free agents if they tagged Woods.

*Right tackle John Tait's days as a Chief could be numbered. As we first told you weeks ago, the Chiefs want Tait to accept a generous home town deal. The bitterness over his initial contract talks with agent Ethan Locke still has the Chiefs brass upset.

Though Locke is no longer his agent, Tait expects that the Chiefs will use very bit of the March 3rd deadline before Tait can officially talk to other teams. It's not likely the Chiefs will franchise Tait. If they did it would cost them nearly $6 million this year and the Chiefs don't have the cap room to make Tait one of the five highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL.

Tait has already indicated a preference to stay in Kansas City. He's recently married, has his home in Kansas City and enjoys playing for the Chiefs. But that does not mean, he wouldn't leave Kansas City if the contract offer by the Chiefs is not to his liking.

* Things have been quiet on the possible signing of defensive end Eric Hicks and tight end Jason Dunn. I expect the Chiefs will get a contract done with Dunn before they try and sign Hicks. Dunn is far too valuable in the running game to let go. But Hicks is another story. His value is more subjective. If he wants to stay with the Chiefs, he'll need to take a pay cut. He might be willing to do that just to play for Cunningham once again. At least the Chiefs are hoping that's the case.

* The Chiefs will be at Thursday's workout for quarterback Drew Henson. The Houston Texans, who own his draft rights, have invited interested NFL teams to a private workout featuring the former New York Yankees third base prospect and Michigan Wolverine star quarterback.

While most NFL scouts feel that Henson is at least two years awawy from being ready to play in the NFL, the Texans hope to draw enough interest to get a second or third draft pick for him in this April's draft. With that said, consider the Chiefs very interested in Henson as they view him as someone who could take over for Trent Green in two or three seasons.

The Chiefs have never developed a successful young quarterback and Henson would certainly be a project but he could pay huge dividends down the road.

KEY UPCOMING NFL DATES:
February 18-24 -- Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, Indiana.

February 24 -- Deadline for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.

February 27 -- NFL Europe League training camps open.

March 2 -- Deadline for submission of qualifying offers by clubs to their restricted free agents whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a right of first refusal/compensation.

March 2 -- Deadline for clubs to submit offer of minimum salary to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with fewer than three seasons of free agency credit whose contracts have expired.

March 3 -- Veteran free agency signing period begins.

March 3 -- Trading period begins.

March 28-April 1 -- NFL Annual Meeting, Palm Beach, Florida.

April 3 -- NFL Europe League season begins.

April 16 -- Signing period ends for restricted free agents.

April 23 -- Deadline for old clubs to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.

April 24-25 -- NFL Draft, New York City.


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