Show Me the Money or Show Me the Door

The Chiefs must make a decision to match the Chicago Bears offer sheet for John Tait by 11:00 tonight or lose him forever.

Depending on who you talk to in regards to the Tait saga; this is a loss that could hurt the Chiefs offensive chemistry. The loss of Tait is two-fold for the Chiefs; one the Chiefs had hoped Tait cold move back to left tackle in two years when Willie Roaf more than likely will retire. Tait started his career at left tackle and converted to right tackle two years ago when the Chiefs signed Tait.

The second is that the Chiefs have no heir apparent for Tait. Brett Williams, last years fourth round pick out of Florida State, is the leading candidate to replace Tait. But the Chiefs are also looking at a couple of veteran lineman; Browns tackle Barry Stokes and New York Giants tackle Chris Bober.

Both were starters for their respective teams in 2003 but neither is in the same class as Tait. The debate on the true value of Tait is different for both the Bears and the Chiefs. Chicago is desperate to believe that Tait will be the anchor of their offensive line and Kansas City considers Tait one of the five spokes in the wheel that makes the offensive line productive as a unit.

Now the Chiefs have to decide if they want to overpay for Tait to keep the continuity of their offensive line together in 2004 and 2005 or let him go now. The Chiefs have a team that can make a legitimate Super Bowl run but the offence that his been virtually in tact the last two years could be missing a key member.

Tait is a good player but not an All-Pro. He'll never be a stellar offensive lineman and certainly is not worth the coin the Bears have given him. But give props to Tait and his agent, Ethan Locke, who might go down in NFL history as the only agent that beat Carl Peterson.

Now the battle is not over and my money still rides on Peterson. The Chiefs could match the offer sheet and then try to restructure the $10 million roster bonus due Tait 24 hours after signing the contract.

Tait and his wife were in Chicago the last two days looking for houses so he's not anticipating that the Chiefs will indeed match the offer. But after talking with a close friend of Tait on Thursday, he would love nothing more than to stay in Kansas City and finish out his career with the Chiefs.

Despite the difficult manor in which his career began with the Chiefs five years ago; Tait loves Kansas City and the Chiefs organization. It was not an easy decision, according to his friend, to accept the Bears offer because he knew the way the contract was structured; the Chiefs virtually had no chance at matching the contract set forth by the Bears.

But Tait can change all that if his sincerity is real. He can agree if the Chiefs match the deal to restructure the roster bonus and he will remain a Chief. It's now up to his agent, Tait and Kansas City to try and work something out.

In other Chiefs news, the Troy Vincent sweepstakes has hit a fork in the road for each of the three teams interested in signing the former Philadelphia Eagles defensive back.

With the sudden release of starting cornerback Jeff Burris by Cincinnati that led many to believe that would pave the road for Vincent to sign with the Bengals but he's rejected their latest contract offer. The Bills also have made a contract offer as have the Chiefs. But Vincent, who is 32, is not happy with the financial compensation being offered by his three suitors and has landed back in Philadelphia without a contract.

For Vincent, he wants teams to overlook his age but that's scaring many teams from giving him the money that he's hoping to get out of what will be his last major free agent contract. The Chiefs could have been burned last season if they had signed Hugh Douglas to a long term contract and they have the same fears about giving Vincent a fat signing bonus and a long term deal that's not cap friendly.

Though Vincent would be a defensive upgrade Kansas City has other options. The Chiefs might try and schedule a visit with Vincent's teammate last season Bobby Taylor next week. Taylor will be visiting the Bengals today and tomorrow but he's not received any contract offers to date. Taylor is also representing himself as he fired his agents two weeks ago.

Tight End Jason Dunn has made his rounds and after visits to St. Louis and Oakland; still does not have a contract offer in hand. The Chiefs are likely, especially if they lose Tait, to make every effort to re-sign Dunn for his blocking abilities.

William Bartee continues to talk to teams but outside of the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants the only other team showing interest is the Chiefs.


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