What's next for the Chiefs and Free Agency?

After a stellar weekend by the Kansas City Chiefs that included the signing of cornerback Patrick Surtain and drafting, Derrick Johnson; the most complete defensive player in the NFL draft; Chiefs fans still want to know what's next for the Chiefs in free agency. Warpaint Illustrated went right to the source; Chiefs President Carl Peterson to ask those questions.

It's been a whirlwind week for Kansas City Chiefs President Carl Peterson. Last Wednesday at the pre-draft press conference he came under fire from the fans for his comments about his preference to adhere to season ticket holders instead to all Chiefs fans. Well that sent the town a buzzing. But Peterson made those comments more to deflect the attention towards himself in regards to the fans passionate reactions to the Chiefs off-season to date.

The local reporter who asked the question caught the ire of Peterson and in retrospect it was clear that he did so because he didn't want the negative things being said to fall on anyone else in the organization. He simply made a statement like any other President to deflect the criticism and by his own admission those harsh comments were perceived in a manner that caused many fans to question their loyalty to the Chiefs.

But what fans have to remember is that Peterson works for the Hunt family and does have a responsibility to the season ticket holders. They do fork over thousands of dollars each year to buy tickets. The rest of us who don't have season tickets or can't attend every home game; also fork over thousands of dollars buying merchandise, big screen TV's and DirecTV dishes.

Peterson understands that and considering the Chiefs are one of the most financially stable franchises in the NFL; it would be foolish for fans to think that Peterson does not understand that the money generated each year to make this franchise so richly profitable is derived solely from season ticket holders. Now I'm not condoning the comments but I understood what he meant and the context in which they were taken.

On Sunday afternoon, Peterson was asked about his statements and he was very clear to clarify the comments he made last Wednesday and he reiterated them to the press gathering right after the conclusion of the NFL Draft.

"I said yesterday to our fans that I love all Kansas City Chiefs fans. All of them," said Peterson. "I certainly have a responsibility to those fans who are Chiefs season ticket holders. That's my first responsibility as the President of this organization. But we enjoy all of our fans. We have season ticket holders in 47 states and we love all them too. All of those that aren't here and would like to be Chiefs fans we certainly enjoy and want all of them to continue to be great Chiefs fans. Again what I think I said (earlier) was tremendously misinterpreted. But sometimes there is a lack of communication between myself and the media."

After those statements by Peterson his old friend Chief Head Coach Dick Vermeil brought down the house with his comments. "What would you guys do without that kind of comment all week," said Vermeil smiling.

What fans have to remember about Carl Peterson is that he's a business man first and as much as we want to know everything that goes on at Arrowhead; its not always possible. But after the week he's had and the fact he signed cornerback Patrick Surtain to the richest contract in team history plus had a solid draft, I think we can cut him some slack.

Early in the post draft press conference Peterson made it very clear that after evaluating the rookies next week at the mini-camp; that they could look to add some veterans after June when many teams will be looking to clear cap space for the upcoming season. When asked about possible additions to the current Chiefs roster, Peterson made it clear that they would continue to evaluate veteran players who might be released in June that could shore up the Chiefs 2005 roster.

He also made it clear that Kansas City could be one of those teams that could let some of its own veterans go.

With that said, there are two key veteran defensive free agents still on the market; one of them cornerback Ty Law. I asked the Chiefs President if Kansas City still has an interest in the former New England Patriots All-Pro.

"Not at this point because I spent all the cap and cash dollars that we can at this particular point We were negotiating with Ty Law and his representative right up to the point we were able to feel comfortable with the deal that I was able to make with Patrick Surtain and (his agent) Gary Uberstein. We're turning from that into another direction. Actually kind of turning off the faucet right now," said Peterson.

Though I was satisfied with the answer because it makes financial sense and considering the demands that Law's agent has made on interested teams; its prudent to wait and see who becomes a serious bidder for Law.

To further complicate things, Law is reportedly looking for a deal that will pay him upwards of $6 million per season. At this time, that's not something the Chiefs can afford. But would Kansas City be more willing to make a run at Law if Eric Warfield is indeed suspended by the NFL for his off-the-field incident last season. Right now the neither Chiefs nor Peterson have any idea as to what the league will do in regards to Warfield's availability for the first four games of the 2005 season.

"They (the NFL) don't make those announcements until sometime in training camp. That's been our experience. If Ty Law is still available at that time and so forth we can certainly revisit it at that time. There is no question. He's a very good player. But he's also I think; more understanding now then before that people are probably going to wait to see how that foot is and he has to pass a physical," Peterson told me on Sunday.

The bottom line is Peterson would not rule out the possibility of making a run at Law later in the summer. The Chiefs remain in a good position because no other NFL team is going to sign him until after June and it's even more optimistic to think that Law won't be signing any contract before training camps open in July or early August.

With the Law matter settled, I thought it was prudent to ask about depth at linebacker. The jury is still out on Scott Fujita, Shawn Barber and Mike Maslowski who are all recovering from minor to serious surgeries. This group still has question marks and despite the drafting of Texas Linebacker Derrick Johnson and Illinois State James Grigsby; the Chiefs could be forced to acquire a veteran linebacker in the near future.

Peterson did tell reporters at the press conference that Shawn Barber was ahead of schedule with his rehabilitation; though he could start training camp on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list until he's ready for live action on the field.

Now that could be in training camp or midway through the season; it's far too early to tell when he'll be available to practice; yet alone play football at a high level. Scott Fujita is expected to be ready by training camp but Mike Maslowski might not ever play football again. Then again, not many NFL players have overcome the long odds he has just to get a shot at the big show. Still it would surprise nobody if Maz made it all the way back and somehow managed to get back on the field for the Chiefs in 2005.

Still Kansas City has to make plans in the event two of their three injured linebackers are not ready for the season opener on September 11th. One player on the open market right now is linebacker Chad Brown who was released by the Seattle Seahawks last week. I asked Carl Peterson if they had any interest in Brown at this time or in the future.

"I think right now we're ok. He's been a terrific player. But the last year or two he's not quite the same as he's been. He's had some injury problems," Peterson said. Right now the Chiefs are waiting to see what the market value might be for both Ty Law, Chad Brown or anyone else that might be released between now and June 1st. Though it's unlikely many NFL teams will sign free agents before then. It's my belief that the Chiefs actions this off-season clearly indicate that if the right player came along; they would not hesitate to find a way to get them on the roster this season.


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