Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition IX

This week we discuss the Chiefs' cap room, their new offense, trading superstars, and Tyler Thipgen.

With all the cap money left do you think the Chiefs are saving room to make some big trades and take some cap hits? Maybe with Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson or Brian Waters?

Nick Athan: Unless the Chiefs make another blockbuster trade or two they aren't going to be able to sign enough street free agents to reach the NFL cap minimum. My guess is they'll entertain offers for all three of their unhappy players. The Chiefs have the luxury of dumping all the players they don't see as part of the future because of this unique situation. In other years it would have been impossible.

Gonzalez still wants out of Kansas City despite an offense that will showcase his skills. Johnson just wants a change of scenery and it's likely the Chiefs will give it to him if they get a top pick for him - no less than a second rounder. As for Waters, he wants a new contract. My guess is all three at some point will get what they want, and I'd be surprised if all three were playing for the Chiefs this year.

Michael Ash: It's difficult to see any of those players being traded. Are the Chiefs really going to ship out Tony "a quarterback's best friend" Gonzalez after trading for Matt Cassel? Regardless of what happened with Waters, are the Chiefs really going to weaken Cassel's protection by trading away a Pro Bowl offensive lineman?

If any of the three go, Larry Johnson seems like the best bet, although I think he'll end up sticking around. If he was to leave, it's more likely he'd just be released, as Dallas did with Terrell Owens. So I'm not expecting any big trades. But it's possible they could use all the extra cap room to take the hit of cutting a player such as Johnson.

C.E. Wendler: The Chiefs can't possibly sit here two offseasons in a row with a disgustingly enormous surplus in cap room and just let it go to waste, can they? How can such frugality be justified after six wins in two seasons? It seems almost impossible.

So yes, you'd have to think at some point a transaction involving a rather large amount of money would go down. But what about a contract extension for Matt Cassel? Maybe the Chiefs want to extend Dwayne Bowe or Derrick Johnson? There's more than one way to utilize all this cap room. That might be part of the plan, and I can't imagine Cassel's franchise-tag money will stand.


What are the differences between the offense the Chiefs ran last year, and that of the Patriots and Cardinals?

Nick Athan: The beauty of the systems in New England and Arizona was that they were designed to decoy the actual play called. What those two teams did better than anyone else was design primary and secondary routes that, based on coverage, are designed to work no matter where the ball is delivered. The Patriots and Cardinals often used their wide receivers to draw certain coverages that allowed other receivers, or a back, to get open. It was all designed to take what the defense was giving.

The other aspect is that the quarterbacks in those systems are schooled to survey the field and not lock onto a receiver, something that hurt Tyler Thigpen the second half of last season. What you'll see next season is an offense that will spread the field and won't be constricted to short-yardage passes. Where it might struggle, at least in Kansas City, is in the running game partly because the running back position is at the moment is questionable.

Michael Ash: The biggest difference is that the Patriots and Cardinals were running established offensive systems, while the Chiefs were running a piecemeal offense that Chan Gailey threw together on the fly.


Will Todd Haley bring balance back to the KC offense?
Charlie Riedel - AP

The Patriots' offense, as best I know, goes back to the Charlie Weis days. They've focused more on the shotgun-based passing game over the last two years, but their system has been in place for quite a while. Same with Arizona, where Todd Haley appeared to take the offense Ken Whisenhunt brought from Pittsburgh and brought out the more open aspects of it.

In other words, even through both teams would frequently bring out three or four receivers and drop into the shotgun, it wasn't the basis of their entire offensive system. With the Chiefs, the scheme Gailey adopted to take advantage of Tyler Thigpen's talents was basically the team's entire offense.

C.E. Wendler: Balance would be the word I'd use. The Patriots were sixth in the league in rushing a year ago. The Cardinals had the league's worst rushing attack, but miraculously found a solid ground game on their way to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs fielded one of the most inconsistent ground games in the league, and suffered for it.

Even so, there were signs that KC's rushing attack was much improved. Heck, Larry Johnson and Jamaal Charles both averaged 4.5 yards per carry or better. Maybe with a little fine tuning there are pieces there for Todd Haley and Chan Gailey to take advantage of. Either way the Chiefs have to take pressure off Matt Cassel, because he was sacked way too much last season, and his new team needs offensive line help.


What do you think of this trade: Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, and KC's first-round pick to the Eagles for their two first rounders and their 21st pick in the second rd, and a third next year?

Nick Athan: There is no reason for the Chiefs to give up the third overall pick to anyone at this point unless it's to move down a bit in the first round and to pick up the second-round pick they traded to New England. Now if you want to trade the players straight up for both first-round picks, why not? But the Chiefs are going to have to be wowed to trade away a shot at linebacker Aaron Curry.

If the deal doesn't give the Chiefs a better player than Curry, I'd like to see them hang on to that pick. But trading Gonzalez and Johnson to the same team could bring a nice package of picks in return.

Michael Ash: The Eagles aren't the sort of team that makes this kind of financial investment. Between taking on the contracts of Johnson and Gonzalez, plus having to sign the #3 pick in the draft, that would be a lot of money to shell out in one offseason. The Eagles certainly have the cap space, they just rarely ever seem to use it, a frequent complaint of their fans.

C.E. Wendler: Besides the issues discussed by Nick and Michael, there's another good reason this trade is rather insane. Without Gonzalez and Johnson, who is Matt Cassel left to distribute the ball to? Dwayne Bowe and a bunch of castoffs and nobodies? Not a recipe for success, especially for a franchise trying to get off on the right foot in a rebuild.


What are your thoughts on a Tyler Thigpen trade?

Nick Athan: I've talked to Thigpen's camp and he firmly believes that Kansas City is the best place for his career at the moment. The Chiefs might be tempted to trade him to a team like Tampa Bay or the Jets, but they should hold onto him because his actual trade value will increase if a starter or two goes down in training camp.


What are the merits of trading Thigpen?
G Newman Lowrance - Getty

And again, the Chiefs have never had two young quarterbacks on the roster at the same time with NFL starting experience. If you add Brodie Croyle to that mix, the Chiefs are in good shape for years to come providing Cassel develops.

Michael Ash: Thigpen will make a serviceable backup. But if the Chiefs can get decent compensation for him, why not make a deal? Todd Haley has spoken rather highly of Thigpen, however, so a deal may not be all that likely.

C.E. Wendler: It would depend on the compensation. If some team got desperate and offered up a second-round pick, or more, for Thigpen, how could the Chiefs pass that up? But anything less, and he looks awfully good on the roster behind Matt Cassel.

Chan Gailey was retained as offensive coordinator, so if Cassel were ever to get hurt, Kansas City could easily adjust the offense to suit Thigpen's abilities as was done a year ago. That's a terrific situation for any team in a league that really requires two competent quarterbacks.

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