On the Block?

Kansas City Chiefs fans are some of the most passionate and knowledgeable in the NFL. Some even fancy themselves as internet versions of President/GM Carl Peterson. Most have a working knowledge of the salary cap and are up to speed on players both on the roster and the fans know what free agents are available and have formed opinions as to which would best fit the Chiefs offense, defense and special teams. With that said the Chiefs have decisions to make with some of their veteran players.

They've done their homework on the draft and have formed opinions as to who will be available for the Chiefs the 11 times they are on the clock and who best fits the team (including "diamonds in the rough"). They've analyzed the Chiefs roster and have formed opinions on who should be cut on June 1st and who should be traded. So let's take a look at those opinions on who should be traded and if trading any player makes sense for Kansas City.

At the end of the 2004 season the Chiefs defense was still struggling, but running back Larry Johnson was becoming a household name in the NFL. The fan base though immediately began to put together trade scenarios to improve the defense by shipping Larry Johnson out of Kansas City; most notably to Miami for cornerback Patrick Surtain. Frankly, it was a bad idea then as it is now.

Larry Johnson's cap hit if he was traded would escalate from $1 million to $2 million this year. Plus you have to factor that Priest Holmes has failed to finish two of the last three seasons, making Johnson's production in this offense invaluable. Furthermore, with the fact Derrick Blaylock signed a free agent contract with the New York Jets earlier this month; Johnson is the only other experienced running back on the roster. Johnson has showed that given the rock he can carry the load on offense and be as proficient as Holmes knack for getting into the end zone. Eventually he'll become the starter as Holmes might only play one or two more NFL seasons. He's as close to untouchable as there is on this roster.

The next most popular name in trade scenarios by Chiefs fans is that of defensive tackle Ryan Sims. Sims has not lived up to the pedigree that other early first round picks have had in making the transition from a college standout to the 6th overall pick in the draft three years ago. It started bad for Sims. After a lengthy holdout, he missed most of his rookie season with an elbow injury. His next two seasons have been marred by inconsistency. However, trading him would also be a bad idea. Sims' cap hit this year is around $2.4million. Trading Sims would increase that cap hit to nearly $6.3 million when you factor in his signing bonus. So if he was dealt, he'd have to renegotiate his contract with his new team.

Chiefs fans can only hope that Sims gets the message. He's made the first step by agreeing to stay in Kansas City over the winter and spring to workout in the teams' off-season workouts. That's not something he's done on a regular basis in the past. Under the watchful eye of the Chiefs staff, he should be able to keep his weight is in line and be in shape before two a days in River Falls begin in July.

On offense another name has surfaced in trade talks, that being wide receiver Johnnie Morton. Morton's cap hit is around $4M this year. Trading or cutting him would result in a $4.3M cap hit, so the cap would not prohibit such a trade but if he's cut by the Chiefs after June, then they can spread the cap number out over the next two seasons. The problem with such a trade is that Morton likely has very little trade value. His production over the past three years has not been spectacular and he is coming off injury. Still he had a productive season at times in 2004 but the Chiefs are looking at veteran receivers so its' likely Morton will be cut after June 1st.

Another name being tossed around by Chiefs fans is that of tackle now Guard John Welbourn. Since the Chiefs acquired Welbourn via a trade with Philadelphia last year, there is no accelerated signing bonus cap hit for the Chiefs to be concerned with at this time. At this time, the Chiefs do not plan on signing him to an extension but that could happen if All-Pro Guard Will Shields does not return to play in 2005. Therefore, trading Welbourn would result in a $1.2 million savings on this years cap. As part of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, Welbourn may have some trade value as many teams in the NFL need offensive line help though after an experiment at tackle last season, the Chiefs project him strictly as a guard.

The Eagles who let him go last season felt the same way but the Chiefs were convinced he could fill the void left by John Tait at right tackle. That didn't pan out and the Chiefs gave up two draft choices for a man who might be a part-time player if Shields returns. Plus his stock has fallen after battling injuries the past two seasons.

When the season ended, Chiefs fans began thinking about the possibility that Kansas City could part with running back Priest Holmes or safety Jerome Woods. But due to either great production and/or pending salary cap issues, trading either of those players makes little sense. Like I said, Holmes is going to play for one or two more seasons and Woods could be released in June.

The bottom line is that outside of using Welbourn too possibly move up in a particular round, they don't really have any players that make for good trades. Though you can never rule out the Chiefs trading another veteran that's not part of their plans in 2005. With the team still trying to land another couple of defensive players, anything is possible in order for the Chiefs to land better personnel on defense.

In the interim, Chiefs' fans will have to continue to be creative in finding ways to improve the Chiefs defense on their own.


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