Chiefs President/GM Carl Peterson has taken a lot of heat this off-season for the delay in signing free agents. He lost out on Cornerback Samari Rolle. Though Rolle was the real culprit in the decision to spurn the Chiefs for the Ravens, the fans still though Peterson was too blame. That wasn't the case and he came back and quickly signed linebacker Kendrell Bell and Safety Sammy Knight to help fix his ailing defense.
With the reported news that Peterson is shelling out huge bucks to land Surtain, all that negative vibes could land on Miami Dolphins Head Coach Nick Saban. He's the one holding up the trade by insisting that the Kansas City give up their second pick and a fourth or fifth rounder to send Surtain to the Chiefs.
"If someone else wants to work a business deal for [Surtain] to be on their team, fine," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said yesterday. "But we will not compromise on our price. I'm not going to tell you what that is, but it's not to be compromised."
That means the Chiefs will have to play under Saban's terms if they want to acquire Surtain sooner rather than later.
But give the Chiefs credit, they've played out these negotiations to perfection. According to the Sun Sentinel Kansas City and the agent for Surtain, Gary Uberstein have come to terms on a multi-year deal that would make the former Dolphin Cornerback one of the highest paid at his position. The terms of the deal could include a signing bonus of $12-13 million and carry an average salary of $6.5 million.
Not many teams, if any, are going to match that offer. The Dolphins are $1 million under the salary cap while the Chiefs are sitting somewhere between $2.2 and $ 2.5 million under the NFL threshold after signing Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight and re-signing Kendall Gammons.
Surtain's salary is eating up 10% of the Dolphins cap this season as he's set to earn $8.4 million in 2005. The Dolphins who have other needs must dump his salary if they plan on making other moves before the draft in three weeks. One rumor has them interested in Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James but in order for them to sign and trade for him; they'll need to move Surtain. The only other suitor for James services appears to be the Arizona Cardinals.
In my opinion Saban is unrealistic in his chances to re-sign Surtain to a lower cap number. Its unlikely Surtain is going to agree to a pay cut to stay in Miami plus Dolphins ownership has made it clear that Saban can't pay out the double-digit signing bonus he's demanding. That means Saban is grasping at straws and posturing himself to look like a hero before he ends up the goat.
"I don't know that we can sign him long-term," Saban said. "It depends on what happens in the future. We can't make it work right now relative to what they want and where we are. I like Patrick and want him to be on our team. If he's not, it's going to be because it can't work out business-wise. It's as simple as that."
Peterson is wise to hold onto the second pick as the market has been set for trading cornerbacks when the Arizona Cardinals traded Cornerback Duane Starks. The New England Patriots, looking for a veteran to replace Ty Law, only paid a third round pick for Starks. Now Starks is not the player that Surtain is and I can see the Dolphins stance in trying to pry that second round pick from the Chiefs. But it's doubtful the Chiefs will budge at least for now. However, that might have not been necessary if the Chiefs had a third round pick.
As everyone knows Kansas City traded their 2005 third round pick away last year to the Philadelphia Eagles for tackle/guard John Welbourn. Now Welbourn didn't pan out as a starting right tackle; but he could be valuable insurance in the event that guard Will Shields does actually retire as some think he might do after 13 NFL seasons.
Still by the Chiefs reportedly agreeing to shell out that kind of loot for Surtain, they mean business in improving their defense. Kansas City would like to get Surtain in the fold as soon as possible because they have other defensive needs. One is at defensive end where some claim the Chiefs have interest in New Orleans Saints defensive end Darren Howard.
But he's not the only defensive end on their radar screen. They already had a visit with Titans restricted free agent Carlos Hall. Now if Kansas City offers him a contract, Titans can match the contract. Though the Titans appear willing to part with Hall, who has struggled since his rookie season, Kansas City probably would prefer not to be forced to wait seven days for a decision on Hall. His agent Drew Rosenhaus is trying to broker a deal that would give the Titans a sixth round pick from Kansas City for the rights to Hall. If not, and the Titans don't match the offer, they will be rewarded the Chiefs seventh round pick.
Obviously on paper I would think the Chiefs would prefer Howard but his price might be too high and there has to be a reason besides money that the Saints are willing to part with their best pass rushing defensive end. Still the Chiefs need to find someone who can play opposite Warpaint Illustrated's April Cover Boy, Jared Allen before the draft.
At least if the reports are true about Surtain's contract numbers, the Chiefs can calculate the 2005 cap hit and that could spark other moves if money is available. Of course everything hinges on the validity of the report and the willingness of all three parties to get this deal done. It's hard enough to get two sides to agree to something but for three sides to all get on the same page; could mean that Chiefs fans will have to wait a little longer for the Surtain saga to play out.