Make no mistake about it, head coach Herm Edwards has all but guaranteed another roster shuffle this offseason, and we're already seeing it. With the team on the right side of the salary cap for a change, there are some obvious moves. Today we look at defensive end Jared Allen.
During the Dick Vermeil era, the Chiefs struggled to find productive players on the first day of the NFL draft. Vermeil was great coach, but his player evaluations weren't exactly perfect. He looked at a player's potential instead of what kind of football player he was at the time he was drafted or signed.
But he did manage to accurately predict that little-known defensive end Jared Allen from Idaho State would indeed become an effective NFL starter. Allen has become one of league's best young defensive ends. He's headed for stardom, but will it come with the Chiefs? That's the great debate going on at One Arrowhead Drive these days.
Allen is his own man. He's confident, passionate, speaks his mind and takes responsibility for his errors on the field, but at times he's also immature. His two DUI arrests are testament to his inability to use good judgment in off-the-field situations.
If Allen would only would corral the wild side of his personality, he could someday be a perennial All-Pro. He could end up being one of the most dominating, game-changing pass rushers for the remainder of this decade.
The attributes that placed him on a field as a rookie in 2004 are the same ones that turned him into a budding star. His motor never stops, and even though he may be double and sometimes triple-teamed, he never gives up on a play. If he gets beat on first and second down, he plays third down with the same passion and drive that defines his character on the field.
If a running back breaks the front seven and Allen is still upright, he'll run down the field like a man possessed in order to stop him. If a quarterback attempts to escape to the sideline, he'll give chase regardless of the speed needed to run him down.
Unfortunately, Allen could be losing millions of dollars because the fast lane of off-the-field life is far too enticing at times to ignore. He's still a young man and we all make bad decisions when we think we're invincible, but Allen has to learn some restraint.
Because of players like Allen, the NFL appears to be taking a hit. Some fans have grown tired of the antics.
Fortunately, the NFL and NFLPA agree these incidents must stop and must carry stiffer penalties. The NFL is a money-making machine, and if the fans get fed up, soon the cash cow will become a casual expense like baseball.
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will announce from the League meetings in Arizona his plan to clean up the game off the field.
Edwards admitted in his news conference last week that he thinks the league should punish players by forcing them to miss even more games. In his mind, that approach will do the most to correct their behavior. Let them miss the experience of playing in a big game at Arrowhead and see how they like it.
Allen will learn that first hand this season. He'll likely be suspended for at least the first quarter of the season. That has created a contract issue with the Chiefs.
Allen has already demanded a trade - one that may take place if the Chiefs can't bridge the emotional and financial impasse that exists. Allen feels betrayed that he has not received a new deal that secures his financial future.
The Chiefs have committed to pay Allen $2.3 million in 2007 by offering him a one-year tender, but he has yet to sign it. That has caused friction between Ken Harris - Allen's agent - and the Chiefs.
Harris, not the most skilled of agents in my opinion, felt that Allen was worthy of a large deal when he made his initial proposal to the Chiefs. His first offer would have placed Allen among the elite - we're talking about running back and quarterback money.
Allen isn't in that class. Eventually Harris' offer was reduced, but it was still nowhere near the amount the Chiefs wanted to commit, especially in light of Allen's DUIs.
The Chiefs have to determine if Allen is worthy of a long-term contract now, or at the end of next season.
Meanwhile, Allen can't act as he has lately and expect to make any demands. He's still going to make quite a bit of money this year, minus the amount he loses over his suspension, but it's still significant.
Of course, he and his agent have other options. If another team wants to sign Allen, they have to give up a first and third-round draft pick in this year's draft. The Chiefs would have the right to match any offer, but will they? That question will be debated by General Manager Carl Peterson and Edwards over the next few weeks if Allen signs an offer sheet.
Only one team appears to be showing any great interest in Allen - the Atlanta Falcons. They lost top pass rusher Patrick Kerney to Seattle early in free agency.
The Falcons recently acquired a pair of second-round picks from Houston in the Matt Schaub trade. That could make a possible trade with the Chiefs enticing to Kansas City's front office.
Edwards is already on record that he believes the path to the Super Bowl runs through the draft. Last season's draft class might go down as the best in team history, and a similar crop this year would get the Chiefs back on pace to challenge for an AFC West title in 2008 and beyond.
But will they sacrifice Allen? I think they would, and if he truly is upset at the organization as we've heard, then why not see what he's worth? There are several solid defensive ends available in the draft and with Tamba Hali already starting, the Chiefs can fill numerous other holes by trading Allen.
As we get closer to the draft and Allen's tendered contract remains unsigned, speculation will increase that he could be dealt.
Right now emotions are high on both ends, but the Chiefs hold all the cards. They are absolutely 100 percent correct in not giving Allen the big-time contract he feels he deserves until he shows the team he's learned from his mistakes. He must also maintain his level of play.
But with that said, the Chiefs should listen to every offer that comes their way in the next five weeks. If one of them makes sense and betters this football team with additional draft picks, they just might have to think long and hard about pulling the trigger and cutting their ties with Allen.
In the meantime, Allen has to change his mindset and remember how fortunate he's been since coming to Kansas City. The Chiefs gave him an opportunity after some off-the-field problems at Idaho State caused his draft stock to plummet.
It's time he starts acting like the leader he wants to be. He can accomplish that by showing the Chiefs he's learned his lessons. He needs to sign that tender.
This situation requires give and take from both sides, but Allen has to take the first step. He has more to prove to the Chiefs than they do to him.
TOMORROW: GREG WESLEY
Chief Debate: Jared Allen
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