The Chiefs had three different running backs rush for more than 150 yards this season. Priest Holmes, before he was injured and knocked out for the rest of the season in Week Eight, had five 100-yard games in the seven full games he played. Backup Derrick Blaylock, who can become an unrestricted free agent in February, had two 100-yard games (with a high of 186 against New Orleans) before he was injured and knocked out Dec. 13. Johnson had three 100-yard rushing games and one 100-yard receiving one (against San Diego).
So, the Chiefs have some depth at running back should they choose to deal it. Holmes is un-trade able; the salary cap hit to the Chiefs would be in excess of $8 million in the first year. Johnson now has proven trade value, something he didn't have when the Chiefs shopped him to Miami at the season's midpoint. The Chiefs could trade Johnson, a player who will never be happy as a backup -- a position he'll occupy as long as Holmes plays -- and re-sign Blaylock at a fair price.
Don't look for any of that to happen, though.
"To answer the question before it's asked, I have no intention to trade (running back) Larry Johnson, and I have no belief that Priest Holmes won't be here," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. "I'm excited about having Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes in the same backfield behind an offensive line with three Pro Bowl guys. I'm hopeful that Larry Johnson can take some of the load off Priest next year."
Keith Rowen, who coached Tony Gonzalez to an NFL record 102 receptions for a tight end, has rejoined Dennis Green as the offensive coordinator at Arizona. Rowen, 52, coached tight ends at Kansas City for six seasons. He was the offensive line coach for Green at Minnesota from 1994-96 when he helped with the development of future Pro Bowl players Jeff Christie and Todd Steussie.
After losing Rowen, coach Dick Vermeil indicated he doesn't anticipate further major turnover. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders' name often comes up in connection with vacant NFL or college jobs, but the Chiefs dodged a major bullet with Saunders a year ago when he turned down a chance to replace Frank Solich at the University of Nebraska. Saunders should be considered a strong candidate to replace Vermeil if he steps down as planned after the 2005 season.
Defensively, Peterson in an interview with Pro Football Weekly, suggested that part of the defensive reformation might involve defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham securing "coaches he needs to help him (who) are familiar with him and his defense."
FREE AGENT UPDATE:
Headlining KC's list of potential unrestricted free agents is RB Derrick Blaylock, who ran for 100 yards twice in spelling or replacing the injured Priest Holmes. With second-year runner Larry Johnson finally getting a chance to demonstrate his ability, Blaylock would likely slip to the No. 3 spot, meaning he may not get as good an offer from the Chiefs as he'll get somewhere else.
Elsewhere, LB Monty Beisel demonstrated his versatility by playing all three linebacking positions this year. He didn't excel in any, but with injured starting right outside backer Shawn Barber not expected to be available until after training camp opens next summer, the Chiefs will need Beisel -- unless they make a major free agent acquisition here.
FEELING A DRAFT:
The Chiefs will pick 15th and will be looking for defense, defense and defense. Cornerbacks and linebackers will get extra attention.
TE Tony Gonzalez, who set the NFL record for single-season receptions by a tight end (102), will undergo surgery on the injured foot he has played on effectively for the past two seasons.
LB Shawn Barber, down since tearing his ACL on Nov. 7, has undergone a second reconstructive surgery that likely will require him to open training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
OT Jordan Black, a second-year player who opened three games at right tackle at season's end after injuries to veterans John Welbourn and Chris Bober, apparently will not need surgery on the knee he injured in the San Diego finale.
S Jerome Woods, who missed the final six games with a knee injury, continues to experience pain that may be more related to nerve damage than structural damage.
RB Priest Holmes is expected to be fully healthy by spring after missing the season's final eight games with what was initially called a strained medial collateral ligament.
WR Marc Boerigter, who missed the entire 2004 season after injuring a knee in the third preseason game, should be running at around three-quarters speed by the first spring workouts.