Gonzalez and Johnson are now top priority

One of the signs you look for after a tough loss is the way the players conduct themselves. On Saturday, All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Larry Johnson agreed the offense has to change in 2007. Though Johnson chose his words carefully, Gonzalez was far more vocal after the loss. But none of that should matter because now is the time to sign both to new deals.

The biggest priority for the Chiefs this offseason is to find a way to sign Gonzalez and Johnson to new long-term deals that keep them in Kansas City for the remainder of their NFL careers.

Star football players don't grow on trees and none are much better than these guys. Gonzalez has had his contract squabbles with Carl Peterson in the past but they have a genuine respect for one another.

Gonzalez hinted before that he would consider leaving Kansas City for a team that has a better shot at getting to the Super Bowl. He's earned the right to say that, but on the other hand, deep down, I believe he wants to retire a Chief.

At the end of the game on Saturday he was far more concerned with what this team has to do to fix the offense.

"We can't run, run, pass," said Gonzalez. "When you have nine guys in the box you have to open it up with the pass. Something has to change. We have the weapons to do it, but we didn't do it."

Gonzalez's comments are interesting considering he dropped a few of the passes thrown his way Saturday. He scored the touchdown that drew the Chiefs back into the game, but on the other hand that's not what this is really about.

Big players sometimes have off nights, and I think that Gonzalez more than anything else was really being critical of his own play. He, like Trent Green, didn't play well down the stretch. Some of that was the fact he wasn't the focal point of the game plan on Saturday. Without a go-to wide receiving threat the Colts, as well as any future teams, will shadow box Gonzalez and increase the chances of more frustrating days.

In my opinion, Gonzalez's comments mean he wants this team to go out and get a No. 1 receiver. For the immediate future, the Chiefs have to sign him to a new deal. Gonzalez can probably play at high level for another three years.
The Chiefs will franchise him before the start of free agency if they don't get a deal done. That means for one year he'll earn somewhere between $7.5 and $11 million.

Once they do that they need to break the bank and give Johnson a new deal. His post-game comments were a bit more subdued. He talked about sitting down and coming up with a solution to KC's offensive woes.

"It's frustrating. No one wants to finish their season like this," said Johnson. "We need to sit down and do the things that we need to do to prepare us for next season."

Johnson is still under contract with the Chiefs for one more season. Because of certain incentive clauses he'll probably be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2007 season, but Peterson is already working to ensure that he doesn't escape.

Johnson didn't sound like someone who wanted to be playing anywhere else but Kansas City, however.

He didn't get into a debate with reporters when Gonzalez flat out told the media that Kansas City's offense was too predictable and needed to change. That's a sign of maturity on Johnson's behalf.

Johnson isn't going anywhere unless the Chiefs trade him. I can't see that happening, but if the Chiefs wait to get a deal done before the start of the next regular season it would be a mistake.

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