In Retrospect Chiefs Made the Right Moves in 04

As I sit here today and look back at the events of the last two months, it dawned on me if the 2005 free agent class would have come together if Kansas City did not retain so many of its own free agents a year ago. This is by far the most talented and heralded collection of players ever signed in one off-season by the Chiefs. But I don't think Kansas City would have been able to make these moves had they done things any different in 2004.

Though I never agreed with the theory that the Kansas City Chiefs should have retained all of their own free agents; Greg Wesley, Jerome Woods, John Browning, Eric Hicks and William Bartee; I'd glad now that they did.

If the Chiefs had signed only a pair of them, the 2005 class featuring Kendrell Bell, Sammy Knight, Carlos Hall and Patrick Surtain would have likely signed with other teams.

Now the Chiefs did try and sign players a year ago but the two brightest prospects, cornerbacks Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor ended up signing with Buffalo and Seattle respectively.

Last year for the Bills Vincent played in only seven games. The 14-year veteran managed just 18 tackles, one sack and one interception. For those statistics, Vincent earned a four-year, $24 million contract.

His former defensive mate Taylor played in 10 games for the Seattle Seahawks and had 10 tackles with no sacks and no interceptions. He earned slightly less last season than Vincent as his total contract was worth somewhere around $21 million.

The Chiefs were actually the favorites to land Vincent but Buffalo increased their offer at the last minute and thank goodness they did. If not, Surtain would still be a Dolphin. Taylor was also rumored to be on the Chiefs short list but the Seahawks increased the offer and the former Eagles cornerback felt better lining up with Seattle's defense rather than the Chiefs.

The ironic part now is the fact Taylor looks to be a June 1 cut by Seattle and he could still make it on to the Chiefs roster before training camp. The Chiefs still need to find a veteran cornerback as insurance for the possible suspension of Eric Warfield. His off-the-field incident could mean that he'll have to sit out the first four games of the season.

If that happens Dexter McCleon would have to start the season opposite Surtain (It's good to say that name in the same breath talking about the Chiefs). That could spell disaster for the Chiefs secondary who'll be forced to have one of the safeties to cover McCleon's back at all times. That will put this defense at a distinct disadvantage to start the season and they can ill afford to start out of the box slow in 2005 as they did last year.

Now I'm not saying the Chiefs should sign Taylor for the NFL minimum but if the Chiefs get any inkling of Warfield's suspension prior to the start of training camp; they'll have little choice to bring in another cornerback for insurance.

On Tuesday the Houston Texans cut Aaron Glenn but he quickly signed with the Dallas Cowboys. That's the kind of veteran presence the Chiefs need on this roster. Unless one of the young kids steps up like a Julian Battle, Benny Sapp or fifth round draft pick Alphonso Hodge; this team cold struggle the first four games of the season if it has to rely on McCleon to start or worse William Bartee to be the nickel back.

Though this off-season has been a wonderful success and a large part of it has to do with the fact the Chiefs resigned their own veterans a year ago; I doubt this team will stand pat if they believe they have any deficiencies going into the season.

Chiefs President Carl Peterson told me after the draft that he would not rule out signing another veteran or two if they were willing to sign for the league minimum. In July and August and even into early September that remains a strong possibility. There will be a handful of veterans who will be cut between the first of June and September for the right price. Plus those same veterans will be looking for a team that can help resurrect their careers and eventually land them a fat free agent contract. What better place to do that but in Kansas City with a team that will be considered one of the favorites to win the AFC Championship.

That willingness to add veterans after June has not been something the Chiefs have done in years past. Outside of Marcus Allen and Andre Rison; the list of players to be added to this roster after June has been few and far between.

The new attitude by Chiefs management that orchestrated those free agent signings and solid draft picks, might not have been possible if not for the moves made a year ago; or in the eyes of the fans, the lack of moves that caused so much outrage.

But give the Chiefs and Peterson credit for admitting their mistakes and correcting them this off-season. Even further those mistakes may cause the Chiefs to even part ways with some of those veterans they signed a year ago. Each of them could be gone if not this season certainly by next year or the year after that. The Chiefs are in solid shape with the cap in the upcoming years as league revenues will be at an all-time high in the years to come.

Though as we sit today, I don't want to nitpick but it's also not a time for the Chiefs to let up. Too much progress has been made this off-season and the reasons behind the moves are irrelevant. It's just good news that they took place. As we are on the verge of our first mini-camp this weekend, Chiefs fans have a bounce in their steps and the 2005 season can't start fast enough for each and every one of them; including yours truly.


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