Nick Athan: Linebacker Mike Vrabel is the only player who at one point in the past had double digit sacks. He's also the best overall linebacker and until one of the young defensive ends grows into their role, it's difficult to foresee anyone passing Vrabel's potential sack total this year.
Michael Ash: Glenn Dorsey. During a Cardinals playoff game from a year ago, the announcers discussed how Clancy Pendergast had taken one of the defensive linemen and basically given him a one-gap assignment where his only job was to get into the backfield and disrupt things.
Given the defensive success Arizona had in the playoffs compared to the regular season, having someone to fill that role might be something Pendergast looks to do more frequently this year. If anyone's likely to get that kind of assignment, particularly on second or third down, it would be Dorsey.
In that event, he'd have opportunities to get after the passer, and let's be honest – five sacks over the course of the season might be all it takes to lead the team.
C.E. Wendler: We'd all love to say Tamba Hali, but until he proves he can rush from the right side, there's no reason to believe he'll be the best pass rusher. Mike's Glenn Dorsey hypothesis is intriguing, but we need to see Dorsey stay on the field, first.
That leaves Mike Vrabel and Derrick Johnson as the two most likely candidates to lead the team in sacks. There's no question Johnson is the more physically talented player, but Vrabel's experience as a pass rusher is the trump right card now. He knows how to set up offensive tackles and has the moves to beat one once he engages.
While I'm glad the Chiefs locked up Cassel, what does his signing do to KC's salary cap? His franchise tag number got the Chiefs closer to the minimum. What does the new contract do for that number?
Nick Athan: Right now the Chiefs are sitting at around $38 million under the cap depending on how they structured Cassel's contract. They still have to spend some money beyond signing all of their draft picks so they may need to take a stab at signing players like Jarrad Page and Derrick Johnson.
There's no one else worthy of getting a new deal unless Scott Pioli bends and gives one to Mike Vrabel. Even with all that combined the Chiefs, in an uncapped year in 2010, should be active in dumping players they no longer want and adding those with higher price tags.
Will Cassel's contract number be a problem?
It also appears the Chiefs have front-loaded his contract, as Cassel will earn $40 million of his $63 million in the first three years. That's wise maneuvering for a team with so much available cap room. There are a number of ways Chiefs fans can look at this contract and be impressed with how Scott Pioli operates.
C.E. Wendler: As Michael pointed out, Cassel's cap number hasn't changed, but a few million this way or that way wasn't going to get the Chiefs to the minimum cap number anyway. What we have to wonder now is if they have plans to move some more money around.
Nick speculated on contract extensions for current Chiefs, but what about trades? While it's true there's not been even a hint of news on that front, the secrecy of the new regime in Kansas City is well documented. A trade for an expensive player would certainly get the Chiefs closer to that minimum cap number.
In complete honesty, do you see Kansas City realistically competing for a title whether it be MLB or NFL, in the next three to five years? Or should I move to Boston?
Nick Athan: At some point in the next three to five years both franchises will compete for a division title, and one of them will win it, and I also think the Chiefs or Royals will make a Super Bowl or World Series. The Chiefs have a potential franchise quarterback and a savvy General Manager. In time, they will spend the right dollars on talent. They are moving into the right direction.
The only thing holding the Royals back is the fact ownership isn't willing to invest enough in the team. That will change shortly because the fans can clearly see the talent void. But it will be a much easier task for the Chiefs because they have better ownership. Clark Hunt will spend the money. David Glass won't ever spend enough.
Michael Ash: We all hope the Chiefs are able to compete in that timeframe. It's a little early to say they'll definitely compete, as we still need to see how Todd Haley fares as head coach, how Matt Cassel plays, how Scott Pioli's draft picks pan out, and so on. But there's reason for optiism. If you're holding out hope that the Royals compete for a title anytime soon, you may just want to go ahead and move.
C.E. Wendler: Everything we've learned about Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli, Todd Haley and Matt Cassel this offseason screams that the Chiefs will compete at a high level over the next five seasons, if not longer. There's been little evidence to cast that leadership in a negative light. When you're that solid at the top, good things can't help but cascade down eventually.
As for the Royals, having just watched the Rangers dispose of them Friday night despite a dominating performance from Zack Greinke, there doesn't appear to be much hope. There literally wasn't a single hitter to fear in KC's lineup. The Texas announcers were straining just to characterize Miguel Olivo as a "dangerous hitter." Yes, the same Olivo who's hitting .238 this year.
What are your thoughts on the seven running backs we have on this team? Who makes it, who gets cut, who goes to the practice squad, who may get traded?
Nick Athan: The Chiefs will carry four backs – Larry Johnson, Kolby Smith, Jamaal Charles and Javarris Williams. Johnson won't be traded because the team can use him for another two years before they decide to cut any losses. But if a contender loses a big time running back in August, he could be dealt for multiple picks.
The issue at hand is the fact the Chiefs are not going to run the ball as they did under Herm Edwards. They'll utilize their backs in the passing game more the way they did with Priest Holmes.
Will Kolby Smith make the team?
Smith is still recovering from the knee injury he suffered last season and may start the season on the PUP list. That boils the competition down to Jackie Battle, Dantrell Savage, and Williams.
Assuming the Chiefs keeps four running backs, Battle seems like the favorite to win over the other two. Savage probably needs to win the kick return job to make the final roster, and as a late-round pick, Williams is a prime practice-squad candidate unless he really shines.
C.E. Wendler: His injury issues and lack of performance on the field may make it hard for Smith to stick around, especially since Williams has a similar skill set. Battle has always had an intriguing running style, but Savage's quicks and catching ability seem to suit KC's offense better.
My best guess is Johnson, Charles, Savage and Cox stick on the roster, with Smith and Battle winding up cut and Williams making the practice squad.
The Warpaint Illustrated roundtable will return after training camp coverage from River Falls, Wisconsin concludes.