It appears that the Chiefs would like to sign Tait to a long term deal but the two sides have been unable to agree on a deal. With other key free agents still unsigned, the Chiefs could not afford to lose Tait.
Chiefs President Carl Peterson has some work to do before March 3rd and placing the transitional tag on Tait, leaves the Chiefs some time to focus on Safety Jerome Woods, Defensive End Eric Hicks and back-up Tight End Jason Dunn.
Following today's announcement, Carl Peterson released this statement. "We have placed the transition tag on John Tait," Peterson commented. "The transition tag affords the Chiefs an opportunity to continue to negotiate a long-term contract with John, while giving him the chance to obtain an offer sheet from another team until the end of the unrestricted free agency period on July 22nd."
Clearly if Tait was given the transitional tag, it would appear the Chiefs might be close to signing Woods and/or Hicks. Tait is the premier free agent tackle available and he should draw high interest from other NFL teams.
By placing the transitional tag on Tait, Kansas City agrees to sign him for one season and must pay him the minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries for tackles or 120% of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater.
Tait has always expressed a desire to remain in Kansas City with the Chiefs.
In other Chiefs news, Kansas City left the combines on Tuesday in Indianapolis with plenty to ponder for the upcoming free agent draft in April. One player that the Chiefs were very enamored with was North Carolina State Quarterback Phillip Rivers.
The Chiefs would like to develop a young quarterback and Rivers has NFL scouts comparing him to a young Joe Montana. He does not have the strongest arm, not great mobility but a dead on accurate arm. With talks cooling on former Michigan quarterback Drew Henson, the only other viable option is trying to lure Eskimo Edmonton standout Ricky Ray to jump ship to the NFL.
Kansas City has worked out Ray but the Denver Broncos have shown the most interest in the CFL star.
Speaking of Denver, the Broncos are trying to trade Pro Bowl running back Clinton Portis. The latest rumor has Portis going to the Washington Redskins in exchange for cornerback Champ Bailey. The Chiefs are also in the Bailey derby but now the New York Jets are involved and nobody knows where Portis or Bailey will land but it appears neither will be with the teams they ended the 2003 season with. Portis wants a new fat contract and Bailey wants the same. A change of scenery could be great for both players.
I know Chiefs fans would welcome a trade that would get Portis out of the AFC West. He has owned the Chiefs the last two seasons and consider the Chiefs fortunate if they don't have to face Portis twice next year.
Though the Chiefs are very interested in talking to free agent wide receiver Dennis Northcutt, he might have priced himself out of the Chiefs budget.
According to reports out of the combines Northcutt and his representatives are looking for a $7-8 million signing bonus with an average salary between $5-6 million. Those numnbers will prevent them from making a serious run at Northcutt.