Chiefs Trade for Eagles Guard John Welbourn

The Kansas City Chiefs made a draft day trade to help bolster their offensive line and in doing so might have found their starting right tackle for 2004.

The Chiefs sent their 2004 5th round pick and a conditional 4th round pick in 2005 to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for starting left guard John Welbourn.

The Chiefs spent this morning and yesterday talking with the Eagles about trying to acquire Welbourn, who has made it clear he was very unhappy in Philadelphia. As talks progressed, the Chiefs were told by Welbourn's agent first hand of his clients desire to play in Kansas City.

Though Welbourn has been the starting guard the last four years in Philadelphia; the Chiefs could have found their new starting right tackle. He won the starting right tackle job coming out of Stanford back in 2000 but he was injured and lost that spot when the time signed free agent right tackle John Runyan. When he returned, the Eagles moved him to Guard where he's been a starter the last four years.

Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil was very happy with the addition of Welbourn who was a college teammate of Chiefs starting linebacker Scott Fujita.

"He's athletic and our kind of worker. He's a finisher plus he's already developed. He also gives us more flexibility."

Vermeil did indicate when asked by reporters that Welbourn could indeed compete for the Chiefs starting right tackle position that is now open due to the free agent departure of John Tait who signed a mega free agent contract with the Chicago Bears last month.

It was no secret in NFL circles that Welbourn wanted out of Philadelphia. The knock on Welbourn currently is that he's unhappy with his current contract. He signed a seven-year contract extension in August of 2001 that was valued at $13 million.

But now the scuttlebutt out of Philadelphia is that Welbourn was looking for a contract that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million over the balance of the contract which still has five years remaining. That would make Welbourn one of the highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL.

Thus when contract talks stalled with the Eagles, Welbourn's agent drafted a letter to the Eagles indicating that his client wanted to be traded and made a list of teams that he would consider playing for and the Chiefs were one of those teams.

Chiefs President Carl Peterson, who announced the trade to the media, stressed that Welbourn, would honor his current contract that he signed back in 2001 with the Eagles. If he hadn't agreed to do that, the Chiefs would not have made the trade.

"His agent confirmed that John wanted to be traded. Anytime you make a trade for a player. There are always concerns. The reward far out ways the risk," said Peterson.

"He's been very adamant that he'll come in and play for his current contract. Which does fit within our cap."

Carl Peterson hinted that a new contract might be in the offering if Welbourne played under his current deal and emerged as a started in Kansas City. But for now Peterson made it clear that Welbourn had to prove himself first in a Chiefs uniform.

Vermeil indicated at the conclusion of the press conference. That he would start the five best offensive linemen. That could mean that Welbourn could indeed be the Chiefs starting right tackle on opening day in September.

However, in order for that to happen, Welbourn will have to beat out recently signed free agent guard/tackle Chris Bober from the New York Giants and second year takcle Brett Williams who was drafted in the fourth round in 2003.

Dick Vermeil indicated that he was pleased with both Bober and Williams but he made it clear the five best offensive linemen would start for the Kansas City Chiefs next season.


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