Kansas City placed the transition player protection on right tackle John Tait, their first-round draft pick in 1999 and a starter since late in his rookie season.
The Chiefs had hoped to get a deal done with Tait before the Feb. 25 deadline for installing franchise or transition player protection. They had done so with prospective free agents Greg Wesley and John Browning during the 2003 season, and had an agreement in principle with Jerome Woods in the days leading up to the deadline.
They still hope to do the same with Tait in the future.
"We have 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,'' noted Chiefs president Carl Peterson.
But while they bought time to negotiate -- a gambit that cost them a $6 million, one-year tender to retain the right of first refusal over any offer Tait might get from another club -- the Chiefs now have to wonder if Tait might not get an offer for left tackle money from another team.
He can play the position. He did so capably for two seasons after becoming a full-time starter in his second campaign. It was only because the Chiefs had an opportunity to pick up future Hall of Fame left tackle Willie Roaf in 2002 that Tait was moved to the right tackle position, one he initially struggled to learn.
Tait is now comfortable on the right side and says he's not especially looking to move again. Unless, of course, the financial incentive is there for him to do so.
At that point Tait must decide whether he wants to leave an offensive line that has played intact for 33 consecutive games over the last two seasons -- an incredible streak for a five-man unit. And if he should accept an offer for left tackle money, would the Chiefs be willing to match it, as would be their option.
Their best hope is that after buying time, they can get their own deal done and keep intact an offensive line that has been a critical component of the potent Kansas City offense.