Welbourn Move Could Be First of Many

Last April the Kansas City Chiefs made a draft day trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for starting guard John Welbourn with the intent of making him their starting right tackle to replace the recently departed John Tait. Those plans headed south on Friday as the Chiefs placed Welbourn on injured reserve with a sore knee.

Welbourn came to the Chiefs with knee problems but still Kansas City made the trade and was confident that he could overcome off-season surgery. As insurance they signed Chris Bober from the Giants and he will assume the starting right tackle spot the rest of the way.

The Chiefs as part of the trade would have been forced to give the Eagles a third round draft pick in 2005 if Welbourn started the majority of the games. But with six games left, that won't happen and Kansas City might only have to give up a fourth rounder next season. But Welbourn did his best to battle through the injury and finally last Monday; it gave out and the Chiefs wisely shut him down for the season.

It also should be noted that Tait was injured in Thursday's Turkey-Day game in Dallas. It's not known if he'll be back this season. One thing is certain many are questioning the Bears decision to guarantee Tait nearly two-thirds of his $25 million contract in 2004 and 2005. The Chiefs made a wise move in letting him go to the Bears.

Kansas City already has an extra fifth and sixth round pick in 2005 from the R-Kal Truluck trade with the Green Bay Packers that was made last September.

In other Chiefs news, cornerback Dexter McCleon will return to the nickel slot on Sunday against the Chargers. Second year man Julian Battle has dropped down the depth chart behind rookie free agent Benny Sapp. Battle will continue to play special teams as the Chargers are not likely to offer up to many five receiver sets like the Patriots did last Monday Night.

Priest Holmes will sit out his third consecutive game and Derrick Blaylock will make another start. That means Larry Johnson will likely be on the side lines unless Blaylock gets injured. With six games remaining, the Chiefs really need to see if Johnson has what it takes to play in the NFL. With uncertainty of Holmes returning in 2005 and Blaylock's contract runs out after this season, Johnson should get some reps.

Blaylock has proven that he can run against weak defensive teams, the Saints, but not against teams that know how to play strong run defense like the Patriots. I still say that Johnson is a more polished runner but still he does not play significant minutes.

Since we're already talking about next year, the Chiefs must develop a younger quarterback since Trent Green is in his mid 30's. The answer to their future quarterback could be on the field on Sunday. Chargers Drew Brees has been stellar this season and with Green counting so much against the Chiefs salary cap this year and next, it would be wise to go after Brees. He could ride the bench for another year and take over in 2006 when the Chiefs are certain to have a new coaching staff.

Brees is the odd man out in San Diego despite the fact he's thrown 19 touchdowns this season. Phillip Rivers is waiting in the wings and despite the success of the Chargers in 2004 and the resurgence of Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer; he likely will be out as the teams head coach after the season. Chargers ownership wants to lure USC's Pete Carroll from the college ranks. They tried unsuccessfully last season but if the Trojans win the National Championship, Carroll's stock would never be higher.

Kansas City has to start looking outside of this locker room if they are going to improve and make one final run before a complete overhaul of the roster after the 2005 season.

Dick Vermeil and Carl Peterson both have one year left on their respective deals and I doubt Vermeil will come back unless he has more player control in 2005. His reputation and legacy are on the line and its no secret that some of the personnel moves the last three years have not been to his liking.

That could spawn a few changes in the Draft War Room this year.


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