After we all did our best to vent over the Chiefs lack of execution and speed in signing any free agents, it's time to look at what has to be done in the next 24-48 hours.
Linebackers Kendrell Bell and Ed Hartwell on next on the list and Kansas City can have them both if they are willing to spend the money.
Bell, the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker who was the AFC Defensive rookie in 2001, has stopped touring the country for a home. He wants to sign and play for the Chiefs. In an interview in the KC Star, he made his intentions clear.
"Right now, I'm focusing all of my energy on getting a deal done with Kansas City," Bell told me Monday afternoon. "I don't really want to visit other teams right now. But if that's something I have to do, I will. Right now, I want to show a little respect, keep quiet and work out something with KC."
After all the lack of respect some of these players have received from the Chiefs, this guy still wants to play for Kansas City. How refreshing is that and how much longer will this guy wait to get a deal done with the Chiefs.
Bell has injury issues but nobody can deny his talent and he's arguably the most prolific of the linebackers available on the market. He along with Ed Hartwell would solidify the Chiefs linebacker corps and they'd join Scott Fujita as starters. When Shawn Barber returns at mid-season; the Chiefs would have four linebackers who have the ability to make plays on every down.
That's all Gunther Cunningham wants is playmakers and Bell and Hartwell have that ability, talent and drive to bring a demonic attitude to the defensive side of the ball.
Hartwell wants to sign with Kansas City because he wants to lead his own defense and play out of the shadow of Ray Lewis, his soon to be former teammate. Back in 2002, when Lewis was out it was Hartwell who became the leader of the defense.
Bell does it by example on the field and that's something other Chiefs defenders need to see if this defense is going to take a jump to respectability.
It's critical mass for the Chiefs who have to make a splash and they can't wait for the market to fit their needs. They've lost too much time and the fan base is nearing a mass exit in their hearts.
If the Chiefs can sign both linebackers, they can work on solving their cornerback issues. After losing Rolle and Smith on Monday, Fred Smoot seems to be the best available target on the board. Now Smoot is headed to the Minnesota Vikings later today for his first visit and could make a similar run down Interstate 35 to visit the Chiefs. Smoot has a standing offer from the Washington Redskins to return and has $10 million reasons to sign with him.
The other cornerback on the market is Ty Law and though reports are sketchy; he did make a quick visit to Arrowhead last week so team doctors could indeed get an idea about the progress of his surgically repaired foot. The Chiefs have an interest in him and could sign him but that's not likely until closer to the draft.
The last option is Patrick Surtain from Miami but the Seattle Seahawks are talking trade right now and so are the Minnesota Vikings for the disgruntled cornerback. The snag is the Dolphins demands for a second round pick and I'm not sure that's a wise move.
I think the Chiefs should wait until draft day. They have a chance to snag a cornerback like Antrel Rolle or linebacker Derrick Johnson, they might need that second round pick to move up in the first round. Now both could still be on the board at #15 and the Chiefs won't need to make a deal but it would be good to have that bullet in their guns.
Regardless the Chiefs have the ball in their court. Bell wants to come to Kansas City and he's waiting for a better offer. Hartwell has told the Chiefs he's narrowed his choices to them, the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins. That means the Chiefs have the time to up their offer and get him signed before he settles for a second tier team.
The Chiefs have to show the rest of the league and their fan base that they want to be winners in 2005. It's not about the money anymore. It's about showing the loyal fans of Kansas City that you are willing to do what it takes to upgrade the defense.
It's not about the coin any longer. If it is, then this frustrating off-season will continue to erode the fan base one fan at a time. Sooner or later that will effect who's sitting in Arrowhead on game days.
Now is the time for Kansas City to step up and makes some plays this off-season.