Things Are Quiet At Arrowhead

After returning from a stay at his ranch in Philadelphia, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil is ready to start the process of trying to resurrect one more winning season that he hopes will end in a Super Bowl run for Kansas City in 2005. That happy ending could depend on what gifts the Chiefs give defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham this off-season.

Putting aside my bandwagon antics to lure USC Head Coach Peter Carroll to become the Chiefs coach in 2006, it's become apparent that the down time between the end of the season and now has yielded some thought that one or the other will happen to the Chiefs in 2005.

They will either be a team destined to give Dick Vermeil one final Super Bowl title or a franchise that will find itself midway through the season, out of the post season chase; or looking at a complete and major overhaul of the organization.

It was not a good start to the off-season when Kansas City Chiefs CEO/President/GM Carl Peterson told stunned media members in the seasons final press conference; that he wanted to give those defensive players he signed to long term contracts a year ago; one least season to prove that he was not wrong in dishing out money to players who can't play at a level necessary to produce a winning effort on the field.

Let's save him the time. They can't and won't not without an infusion of new players.

The other startling news out of Arrowhead this week was the comments by Dick Vermeil that no defensive coaches will loose their jobs. Granted the entire coaching staff has only one year left on their contracts; and finding any candidate to coach for one year would be risky but how can you bring back coaches that the defensive coordinator does not even want around.

When Gunther Cunningham was brought in to rescue the defense a year ago; it was hinted that he'd have a say in the coaching staff. But that didn't happen last year and its certainly not going to happen in 2005. That's disappointing and Vermeil continues to play the loyalty card that could cause a train wreck for the upcoming season.

Cunningham already has a stacked deck against him because of the lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball. I'm sure he wanted to bring in some new coaches if nothing else to shake things up and give these players who have failed for much of the last three seasons; someone new who might be able to get more out of them next season.

Instead it will be more of the same for the Chiefs and that attitude does not bode well for this team being aggressive in Free Agency. Granted we're still two plus weeks from the Super Bowl and the open market doesn't start until the second of March; still Kansas City hasn't given any signals that they'll do much in the off-season.

When I was on 38 Sports Spot a few weeks ago, I told Lisa Holbrook that I hoped the Chiefs were duping their fans. She asked about the Chiefs cap room but they have plenty to be aggressive. The Cap could be near $85 million before it jumps to a record $95-100 million in 2006. So this team can afford to sacrifice anything they have to in order to upgrade the talent with four of five free agent signings if they so choose.

In 2006, players like Priest Holmes, Trent Green, Tony Richardson, Willie Roaf and Will Shields could all retire. Tony Gonzalez will be entering the final year of his contract that same year so that could be a defection that could affect more dollars available for 2007.

On defense if the Chiefs eat several contracts like Jerome Woods, William Bartee and Eric Hicks, they could easily absorb them into the 2006 cap if they release these players after June 1. There's plenty of room to be aggressive this off-season.

It's too early to put together a list of potential free agents since teams are still strategizing. But there will be several cornerbacks available that could impact the Chiefs secondary, Fred Smoot and Ken Lucas to name a couple. Either would be a solid pick-up for the Chiefs.

But that's getting ahead of the game. Unfortunately it appears the games are still taking place in Kansas City and Chiefs fans are wondering what will happen over the next five to six weeks when the big name free agents will be available.

Granted teams are not supposed to talk to players or their agents until the start of the Free Agency period but trust me the recruiting process has already begun. Players talk amongst themselves and drop hints of interest and it gets back to the teams.

Players, especially when they get to the Pro Bowl, recruit other players from other teams that go to Hawaii about joining their team. Last year Eagles QB Donovan McNabb put the full court press on wide receiver Terrell Owens. I'd like to see some of the Chiefs offensive stars do the same thing. In fact they should kidnap some of the better free agent players on defense and lock them up in the caves at Hunt Midwest.

Still its too early to hit the panic button but it would be nice to see someone from the Chiefs organization come out and say that the vault doors are going to be open and this defense will have at least five new starters.

But we live in the real world and all we'll be able to hang our hat on is the fact; we have no idea what the Chiefs are going to do this off-season.

And that's what scares us the most.


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