Tempering Free Agency Excitement

As the clock strikes midnight, Thursday becomes Friday, and the free agency period officially begins, fans of every NFL team will impatiently await the announcement of their teams' first big signing. From Pittsburgh to Detroit, fans everywhere will be revved up for free agency.

But, for fans in Kansas City, there are three big reasons to be even more excited, because this young offseason has created the perfect storm of anticipation.

1. Carl Peterson is out and Scott Pioli is in, giving Chiefs fans a renewed sense of optimism regarding the organization's talent-scouting and negotiating abilities. Pioli is renowned for his shrewd talent evaluation skills, and his history in New England suggests he's not afraid to make bold moves for the betterment of his football team.

2. There's a boatload of new coaches in town, and fans are hopeful their relationships with players from their previous teams will pay off. The mere presence of head coach Todd Haley and offensive assistant Dedric Ward has fans clamoring over the possibility of making a trade with Arizona for estranged wideout Anquan Boldin, and the addition of Gary Gibbs to the defensive staff has some optimistic about reeling in Jonathan Vilma from the free agent market.

3. Maybe the most important part of this equation is the money the Chiefs have to spend, sitting somewhere around $57 million under the salary cap. Kansas City was already set to have a surplus of $40 million in cap space, but this week's purge of veterans Donnie Edwards, Damon Huard, and Patrick Surtain created even more room. Only Tampa Bay has more to spend this offseason.

While those three reasons are all valid, there is reason to temper the excitement. That's because Chiefs fans have already shifted to the edge of their seats this offseason three times, only to be left hanging for a substantial amount of time.

When Clark Hunt announced Peterson's resignation, Chiefs fans immediately sought information on replacements. As the regular season ended and potential general managers like ESPN's Floyd Reese and KC's own V.P. of Player Personnel Bill Kuharich sat idle and others around the league were hired at similar posts, Chiefs fans remained stewing in the dark over what Hunt's plans. Two days shy of a month later, Pioli (thought to be the top candidate all along) was hired. The whole process was executed behind closed doors in locations still unknown.

Next was the head coaching search. Names like Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan were thrown in the ring. A report even surfaced that Shanahan to Kansas City was all but a done deal. Herm Edwards remained on staff 10 days into the Pioli era while team after team filled their coaching vacancies, all while the Chiefs continued to apparently sit idle, and fans continued to wait on Pioli. Impatience grew, but shortly after his team lost the Super Bowl, Haley was named the new head coach.

Then came the assistant coaching search. It took 11 days for Haley to assemble the bulk of his coaching staff and decide on Edwards' assistants. However, to this day we still aren't sure of everybody's title, or even if Haley's staff is complete. Instead of announcing each hire one by one, Haley and Pioli waited until the bulk of the staff was in order, and made one announcement as if the new coaches were a recruiting class.

What are the common denominators? Silence, secrecy, and deliberation. To this day, we don't know for sure what other GM, head coach, or assistant coaching candidates were interviewed, seriously considered or even pursued. Media and fans were kept in the dark, with few rumors proving to be true in the end.

So, considering all the reasons to get excited about midnight Eastern Time Friday, and all the reasons to temper that excitement, what are we left with? More uncertainty. The Chiefs might strike in the opening minutes of free agency and ink some of the biggest names out there, but they might also be preoccupied in spending cap dollars in other avenues – perhaps trades for Boldin or Matt Cassel.

Let's also not rule out the possibility that the Chiefs will work out a gag order with ESPN and remain silent throughout the entire free agent period, before announcing every free agent signing together, never revealing who was signed first or for how much. Perhaps then they'll make a deal with the NFL that on draft day, every pick is made in silence, with the draft class announced together at the end of day two. We might never know which round each player is selected in.

No matter how Hunt, Pioli, and Haley decide to operate, we're going to have to live with their decisions. The moral of the story - it is what it is.

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