Nick Athan: The issue right now is that Jared Allen and Carl Peterson are locked into a battle of wills and neither is budging at the moment. The good news is that Allen showed up for the 101 Banquet at the urging of Clark Hunt. Allen had hoped that sign of good faith would help contract talks, but it did little.
Despite what you hear, there has been virtually no dialogue between the two sides. There are three teams that have shown interest in Allen – San Francisco, New England, and Minnesota, who I've heard are willing to offer the Chiefs multiple draft picks, including a first-rounder, this year.
Right now someone has to flinch, and I can't see either Carl or Jared doing that at the moment. These contract talks are personal. Two things have to happen to get this deal done. Clark Hunt has to get in the middle of it, and he has to put together a financial package in the ballpark of what Dwight Freeney received last summer.
Michael Ash: Since some of the more high-profile deals in recent years – Tony Gonzalez in 2002, Priest Holmes in 2003, Larry Johnson last season - haven't culminated until training camp or later. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing happen with Allen.
C.E. Wendler: I can't imagine the Chiefs would insert Jared Allen in a promotional video on KcChiefs.com and not sign him before training camp. Wouldn't that be just a little bit embarrassing?
Carl Peterson's history indicates he doesn't let the big fishes get away. His current relationship with Allen may be less than ideal, but the Chiefs have tons of cap room, won't likely shell out for any big-name free agent, and desperately need their star defensive end. It's a pretty simple equation. People may be freaking out over the fact Allen is twisting in the wind at the moment, but the same was true last offseason with Larry Johnson.
Some homers want a left tackle no matter what, just because it's our biggest need, and would be willing to reach for one even though that's not the proper way to rebuild. Who would have the bigger impact on our team? Long/Clady or Dorsey/Ellis?
Nick Athan: My money is on Ryan Clady. I'm in the minority, but I'm not sold on Jake Long as a left tackle. Ultimately, I think he'll play right tackle. Clady is more advanced as a pass blocker and he's already on par, or maybe a little ahead of Long, as a run blocker. I think Clady will be the premier tackle from this draft and the Chiefs, if they don't move out of the fifth spot, will be making a mistake if they pass on him.
What impact would Jake Long have in Kansas City?
Gregory Shamus - Getty
Drafting Long would give the Chiefs a dominant run blocker at left tackle. With Long and Brian Waters lining up next to each other, KC's offense could pound Larry Johnson off the left side and run on pretty much anyone they damn well please. Long's pass protection has been questioned, but he's not exactly Jordan Black, and Herm Edwards' offenses have always been run-first. Drafting Long would allow the Chiefs to move Damion McIntosh to right tackle. Rudy Niswanger could start at right guard, and the center could arrive via the draft (Mike Pollack, perhaps).
Given the fact that the Chiefs experienced only one real blow-out last year (Denver), and the fact that many of their losses were quite close and came down to the fourth quarter, do you think there is a chance, with an elevation in talent in key positions, that the Chiefs could contend for a playoff spot and, possibly (gasp) win a playoff game?
Nick Athan: A Chiefs assistant told me two weeks ago this year's team was close. I asked him, "How close?" and he said, "A few players." He thinks the team could finish 10-6 next season. The offensive line has holes, the quarterback is young and KC needs a pair of corners, but I like the coaching staff. Chan Gailey can get the Chiefs to the playoffs. He did it in Pittsburgh with Kordell Stewart and Neil O'Donnell, both of whom were terrible passers.
If the Chiefs can learn to win games in the fourth quarter and catch a few breaks while their young draftees make an impact along with additions made after June 1, they might surprise some people.
Michael Ash: The Chiefs didn't finish 4-12 last year because they were unlucky or because they suffered a rash of injuries at key spots or anything else that would suggest a quick bounce-back season. They finished 4-12 because they spent much of this decade drafting poorly and mortgaging their future with "win now" moves that never paid off. Those chickens have finally come home to roost.
C.E. Wendler: Forget it. The Chiefs have too many questions in the starting lineup and too little depth to seriously mount a playoff run next year. There are issues at safety, in the middle of the defensive line, in the linebacker corps, at cornerback, and a good chunk of the offense is being built almost from scratch. Right now, they don't even have a dependable field-goal kicker. I'd be thrilled with an 8-8 season.
And who knows if KC's legendary homefield advantage will show up. It petered out at the end of last season, and the Chiefs have given the fans little reason to attend Arrowhead in force at the start of this one. That doesn't mean the future isn't bright. Sometimes it just takes a little while for the lights to come on.
Who are the most likely teams that the Chiefs can trade down in the first round with, and what do you see as compensation from those teams?
Nick Athan: The Baltimore Ravens. They really want Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, and the Chiefs are playing a good game of cat and mouse showing their interest. I think it's all smoke, but they could move down three slots and pick up Baltimore's third-rounder. If not the Ravens, maybe the Bears, who have the 14th pick. They're after one of the top defensive tackles.
Would the Chiefs dangle the rights to Darren McFadden in a trade?
Doug Benc - Getty
Michael Ash: Since it all depends on who goes off the board with the first four picks, I don't look at any team being more likely than the others. For example, the illogical yet popular idea out there of Dallas trading up for Darren McFadden will never see the light of day if Oakland takes him.
I don't know why so many are intrigued with the idea of the Chiefs trading down. They have a rare opportunity to grab one of the truly elite players in this draft. If they do move down, it better be for an amazing deal that they'd be crazy to pass up. It's the only thing that would justify passing on the kind of talent that will be available at the fifth pick.
C.E. Wendler: I'm going to go against the grain here and pick the Cincinnati Bengals. They're absolutely desperate for defensive line help (they haven't stopped the run now for about five years), and I'm not so sure the Chiefs are all that dead-set on drafting either Sedrick Ellis or Glenn Dorsey. They want to see what they have in Tank Tyler and Turk McBride first (Gunther Cunningham was high on both a few weeks ago when we interviewed him).
The Bengals pick ninth, so they wouldn't have to offer much to move up. According to the point system the NFL assigns to draft choices, Cincy's first and second-round picks are valued at 1,780 points. Kansas City's first-rounder is valued at 1,700 points. Sounds like a fair trade, and two picks in the first half of the second round would really put the Chiefs in a good spot.
With coach Chan Gailey leading our offense and bringing in a whole new offensive coaching staff, what offensive scheme is expected to be run and what kind of product should Chiefs fans hope to see on the field in 2008?
Nick Athan: I think what you're going to see is a more balanced offense. The Chiefs are probably going to run about 60 percent of the time, but the passing game will be better suited to fit the strong arm and mobility of Brodie Croyle. Gailey knows his stuff, and I think without a doubt he and his young coaching staff will get more out of the guys who are coming back from last year's squad and intertwine the young guns they'll grab in April. The question will be how fast they gel.
I think it's absolutely critical for the Chiefs to chuck the conservative nature of their preseason playcalling. They should open up the playbook, because these young guys are going to need game simulation if they're going to develop into an offense that can score 21-24 points per game.
What will Chan Gailey's offense look like?
Streeter Lecka - Getty
Maybe he's always been that way and just didn't have the influence to run his team in that mold until he became a head coach. Or maybe taking over the reigns of an entire team caused the once innovative Gailey to go into a shell once he had to worry about the entire team. Whatever the case, Herm Edwards doesn't seem like the type of coach who's going to disagree with Gailey's approach.
But, Gailey is definitely a proven coordinator. Chiefs fans can expect him to be a much smarter playcaller and game-day chess player than Mike Solari was.
C.E. Wendler: Two words: Power running. Wherever Chan Gailey goes, he pounds the rock with almost unparalleled success. Jerome Bettis had career years under Gailey in Pittsburgh. Lamar Smith had his best season in Miami under Gailey. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets destroyed most of their opponents on the ground while Gailey was their head coach. If Gailey can get the most out of Larry Johnson as he did with other running backs, 2008 could be extremely exciting.