Move #2 – Sign Damon Huard

I never thought I'd say this but the best chance for the Kansas City Chiefs to compete for the AFC West Crown in 2007 will be with Damon Huard at the helm of the offense. In our second installment of the Top 10 Moves of the off season, we look at the quarterback position.

Brodie Croyle is still the Chiefs quarterback of the future, but is the present his time? That's the biggest question head coach Herm Edwards will have to ask himself as he begins to make the moves that shape his team in 2007 – the most important of which will be what to do with the quarterback position.

Trent Green has been the starter for six seasons, but after one major concussion, a series of bad games down the stretch and a terrible performance in the playoffs, not to mention the firing of his quarterbacks coach, there's reason to believe he might not be on this team next season.

Though Green, Croyle and Casey Printers are all under contract for next year, Damon Huard will be a free agent come March. The Chiefs have been down this road once before, and they made the wrong decision.

After the 1998 season the Chiefs had to make a decision - Elvis Grbac or Rich Gannon. We all know how that turned out. Former head coach Marty Schottenheimer felt he couldn't give the rock to Gannon in the playoffs, when clearly he was the best option if the Chiefs wanted to beat Denver.

That left a sour taste in Gannon's mouth, and he headed to Oakland, where he led the Raiders to three AFC West crowns and a Super Bowl appearance. Grbac left after the 2000 season and headed to Baltimore. He was never heard from again after Shannon Sharpe ran him out of the league.

Chiefs President Carl Peterson once told reporters he should have stood up on a table and insisted the team keep Gannon. He felt obligated to support his head coach at the time, and with the dollars they had invested in Grbac it made some sense.

Now, history is about to repeat itself. Huard could, of all places, go to the Raiders, who are one of the few teams that will have an opening at the quarterback position. Of course, why would Huard want to play for the Raiders? But someone has to do it, and how ironic would it be if he went to Oakland and had some success?

The Chiefs can't afford to make a mistake this time around. Huard proved everyone wrong, including yours truly, that he could be an effective starter. The Chiefs offense was never better when he was at the helm. He had picture perfect touch, a command of the offense and he found a way to get the ball into the hands of KC's most prolific pass catcher – Tony Gonzalez.

Huard was 5-3 as a starter and he was clearly a far superior quarterback than Green this past season. But like Grbac, the Chiefs have a large amount of money invested in Green. Huard was signed as nothing more than an insurance policy, but he paid huge dividends. Without his early season success, the Chiefs wouldn't have made the playoffs.

The writing is on the wall for Green and his chances to be given the starting assignment next season are shrinking by the day. His quarterbacks coach, Terry Shea, was fired on Friday. There have been rumors suggesting if Edwards does not give the job to assistant head coach Dick Curl he might lure former Alabama head coach Mike Shula.

Shula was instrumental in developing Croyle into a starting college quarterback. I think he would work wonders with Huard. He's had history with Edwards because they both worked in Tampa Bay under Tony Dungy. In fact, he was the Buccaneers offensive coordinator from 1996-1999.

That's a position he could eventually gain in Kansas City if Mike Solari doesn't get this offense back on track in 2007.

But that success might hinge on the starting quarterback, and at this point that's the one mistake the Chiefs can't afford to make. This decision will set the tone for the entire offseason now that Tony Gonzalez is signed.

Huard might have been able to lead this team to a better performance in the playoffs. His play during the regular season probably wouldn't have improved the Chiefs post season seeding, but it might have secured a win or two. At the very least, he deserves a chance to be the starter in 2007.

I'm not sure what it'll cost or what the ramifications will be for Green, but that can't play a part in the decision this time around. The Chiefs success in future years will be based on being able to win the AFC West. They have to decide right now, today, what quarterback gives them the best chance to win multiple division championships.

It's far too early to tell which direction Edwards will go, but I hope Peterson jumps up and down on the table twice as much this time because this team needs Huard.

Tomorrow: Larry Johnson

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