At the end of 2003 season the Chiefs knew they had to upgrade the wide receiver group. Veterans Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison clearly were the teams best two starters a year ago but the wide receiver free agent market yielded no real value, so they turned to the draft. Kansas City added rookies Samie Parker in the fourth round and signed Richard Smith as a rookie free agent.
Morton had a major case of the drops last season and the Chiefs have tried to cater the offense to match Morton's skills. The Chiefs signed Morton to a $25 million free agent contract two years ago and they have received very little return for their investment in the former Detroit Lion's top receiver.
In ordinary circumstances, the Chiefs would not think of cutting a veteran like Morton but with the emergence of the two rookies plus the addition of tight end/h-back Kris Wilson, the Chiefs have more options. Especially after Monday's spectacular performance by Marc Boerigter, it's clear the Chiefs face a dilemma in regards to keeping Morton on the roster.
Morton has never adapted to the Chiefs offense and with Trent Green being razor sharp in the pre-season; it appears that this offense could run efficiently at wide receiver with just about anyone.
Eddie Kennison has returned to practice this week after an injury to his wrist and he's a lock to be one starter provided he stays healthy. Boerigter appears to have moved ahead of Morton and Dante Hall has solidified the third spot. It's doubtful the Chiefs are going to slow the growth plate of both Parker and Smith this season. There is no experience like playing in the NFL and from what I've seen out of the young guns, they can play in the NFL and they can play now.
That means the Chiefs have options in regards to Morton whereas they could offer him an injury settlement that could yield the Chiefs some cap relief for next season. By doing that, Kansas City would be intrusting some of their offense in Parker and Smith who have clearly taken advantage of the injury to Johnnie Morton.
It's no secret that Morton has had run-ins with other players and his verbal spat with Detroit Lions General Manager Matt Millen last year was distasteful to say the least for the Chiefs organization.
Morton struggled mightily his first season with the Chiefs and Kansas City made a decision to release Derrick Alexander in lieu of the Morton signing. In retrospect, that was a safe bet for the Chiefs since Alexander did not have the type of work ethic that Dick Vermeil wants out of his players in practice and on game-days.
But now it appears that Morton and the Chiefs are at a cross roads and it will be interesting to see what happens next Tuesday when Kansas City makes their first of two roster cuts before the final roster is set after the last pre-season game.
In other Chiefs News: The Chiefs have not released information on the injury to middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell. The results of his MRI are not yet known. In practice on Thursday Monte Beisel ran with the first defensive unit.
Safety Jerome Woods is itching to get back on the field and he might see some action on Saturday night against the Cleveland Browns.
Look for the starters to play most of the first quarter on offense and defense. This will be the last significant playing time for the starters until their opening day game against the Denver Broncos on September 12.