Move #1 – Signing the Workaholic

Over the next 10 days we'll find out which teams represent the AFC and NFC in the Super Bowl. Within that same time frame, I'll give you the recipe for the Kansas City Chiefs to be one of those teams next season. In the first of this series, I'll tell you why signing Tony Gonzalez to a new contract made sense.

The rule of thumb in the NFL is that you don't spend big dollars on players over 30 unless you are 100 percent convinced that player can still pay dividends for your football team. The Chiefs have tried to practice that theory but sometimes don't always follow that path.

They extended the contract of wide receiver Eddie Kennison shortly after the season began. In 2007 he'll be playing his 12th NFL season, but the last five years he's been the Chiefs best wide receiver, so that move makes sense.

But the best receiver on this team for the last 10 seasons has been Gonzalez. The eight-time Pro Bowler will eventually shatter every NFL record among tight ends. He'll set a standard that probably will never be reached by any of the up and coming tight ends.

Last Friday, President Carl Peterson stayed true to his word that he would do whatever it took to secure Gonzalez. After several conversations with super agent Tom Condon, the two sides agreed to a deal that will make Gonzalez the highest paid tight end in the game.

The deal will extend his current contract by five years. In the process, Gonzalez will receive nearly $17 million in guaranteed money over the next three years and. That's basically the time frame in which the Chiefs feel he can be a productive player.

Some people are still questioning this move. After all, Gonzalez will be playing in his 11th season, and how productive can he this side of 30? I can tell you with zero hesitation – extremely productive.

Of all the players on the Chiefs current 53-man roster, in my opinion there isn't a player who works harder on a day-to-day basis than Tony Gonzalez. Before the game he's generally the first on the field, catching 100 balls to get warmed up.

During the week, when the offense isn't practicing formations or plays, he's on the side, catching balls from a coach or player. On the sidelines during the game he stays sharp by catching even more passes.

For those of us in the business world, we'd call him a workaholic. In fact, that's probably the best word to describe Gonzalez.

But he's also the best option the Chiefs have to rebuild their downfield passing offense this offseason.

With an offense in 2007 that might include a new starting quarterback, a new offensive line and new receivers, it's good to have a something that you can count on play in play out. Gonzalez is just that. With an emphasis on the running game, the play action passing game could prove fruitful for the Chiefs next season.

Running back Larry Johnson is the cornerstone of the offense, but as we've seen in the playoffs you have to be able to get the ball down the middle of the field to score points. That's where the Chiefs should focus their passing attack next season. Gonzalez is in amazing shape and he still runs routes better than any other tight end in the game.

He's also stronger than he's ever been. This season he was far more adept at breaking tackles after the catch. That's something that leads me to believe he's nowhere close to being done as an NFL player.

Gonzalez has always maintained that he wanted to play for one team his entire career. Yes, he made comments about wanting to play for a ring, but Gonzalez enjoys playing in Kansas City. This is his home. He's grown up as a man and into a Hall of Famer as a member of the Chiefs.

There was never any question that he would return, despite some banter in the media. Gonzalez has always been good for a quote, but those who know him well never doubted that in his heart he wanted to stay with the Chiefs.

Now that it's done, Kansas City can move onto other more pressing decisions, like settling the quarterback situation. That'll be our next topic.

Tomorrow: Damon Huard

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