Warpaint Roundtable - Offseason Edition II

This week we discuss Jamaal Charles, free agency, Charlie Weis and Matt Cassel.

With Weis as offensive coordinator do you foresee Charles' role decreasing or increasing?

Nick Athan: It will increase, and right now he's the go-to running back in this offense, but the Chiefs want to limit Charles' touches to a maximum of 20-25 per game. The running game was important in New England and Weis knows Charles is something he didn't have with the Patriots - a slasher back with good vision who can run and catch the ball out of the backfield.

Imagine what Charles will be with a better offensive line around him? He'll be used in a variety of ways under Weis, and I personally can't wait to see what he has in store for Charles.

Michael Ash: Weis didn't feature much of a running game at Notre Dame, but we can't judge his offensive philosophy by what he did in the college game. It's a completely different animal than the pros.

If we look at Weis' history with New England, there's really nothing to suggest he was a pass-happy play caller. In his four seasons running the Patriots' offense, there was only one season (2003) where the Pats were clearly a passing team. The other three years, they were extremely balanced in terms of the run/pass split. In his final season there, they even ran more than they threw.

With all that in mind, there's no reason to think Charles' role in the offense will be reduced at all. I would expect just the opposite. Weis didn't get a reputation as one of the best offensive minds in football by ignoring his biggest playmakers. Even if he does want to keep the ball in the air, he can easily incorporate Charles into the passing game.

C.E. Wendler: As Michael pointed out Weis had great success with the running game in New England. Not only did he squeeze 1,000 yards out of Antowain Smith, who was nothing special, he got great production from an aging Corey Dillon at the end of his career. What is he going to do with Charles?

Frankly, Charles might be the most talented running back Weis will have ever worked with to this point. Weis was coordinator in New York when Curtis Martin was in his prime, but Martin never had Charles' speed. Considering there was a long list of marginal offensive players the Patriots got the most out of while Weis was their coordinator, you have to be excited regarding Charles.


Pioli says he won't go out and sign "big name" free agents just to sign people. He wants people that fit the system. In your opinion who would be these types of free agents?

Nick Athan: Don't believe a word he's saying in the middle of February. The Chiefs are already rumored to be one of the front runners for Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers. In fact before the draft a year ago, Pioli tried to get Peppers, but talks fell through when he began to zero in on Tyson Jackson as the Chiefs' top pick.

I think Kansas City will go after two premier top free agents – Peppers and a linebacker which they need desperately. The other free agents will all be system guys but there are a lot of players that will be on the market that could fit both Weis' offense and Crennel's defense.

Michael Ash: When Pioli speaks of things like "fitting the system", it seems like he's usually talking about things that aren't necessarily visible from the outside. Which is why it can be frustrating to see a particular free agent unsigned, knowing he plays a position that can help the Chiefs, and wondering why nothing is being done to sign him.

Fitting the system of play on the field, be it offense or defense, is obviously an important consideration. But players can always learn a new scheme. Pioli seems to like a certain kind of player -- ones who are talented, dedicated, reliable, do their jobs well, and know their role on the team.


Will Pioli be interested in Peppers?
Tony Dejak - AP

He spoke this week about issues like preparation, guys who show up early and stay late at the training facility, guys who work diligently at recovering from their injuries. Unless you're plugged into the NFL like a team executive is, whether or not a certain player fits into that mold just isn't the kind of information you'll be privy to.

It goes back to "the right 53" concept Pioli and Haley have spoken of. When we make our lists of free agents we want, we simply pick out the players we think are the most talented. Pioli's list appears to have other criteria based on things that most of us aren't in a position to judge.

Unfortunately, with the slim free agency class and the options teams will have to retain their own players, it's hard to imagine too many players that fit Pioli's profile actually being available.

C.E. Wendler: Honestly, I don't have a clue what Scott Pioli is really looking for in a player. But we know it's unlikely that the Chiefs are going to end up with someone like Vince Wilfork or Miles Austin, who will probably be re-signed by their current teams, anyway.

Players the Chiefs might have a shot at include Kevin Walter, Ryan Pickett and Sean Jones. Walter is a tough wide receiver with sure hands that the Texans may let escape. Pickett had a decent season at nose tackle for the Packers, but they have a young former first-round pick in BJ Raji ready to take over that spot full time. Jones is a talented safety who played on a good defense in Philadelphia last year.

Honestly, if you're hoping for bigger names than that, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.


Now that Charlie Weis is on board, what does that mean for Matt Cassel? Is there a chance the Chiefs go after one of Charlie's old quarterbacks, Brady Quinn or Jimmy Clausen?

Nick Athan: Cassel will have an offense that fits his skill level. Weis will implement a system similar to the one he ran in New England. We know that Cassel succumbed to all the changes around him last year, not to mention less-than-capable NFL receivers and an inadequate offensive line for most of the year. That won't be the case this season. The Chiefs will add a couple of pieces to their offense and allow Cassel to earn his $63 million contract. But to your last point, I've heard Weis badly wants Quinn in Kansas City to be Cassel's understudy.

Michael Ash: Pioli and Haley surely have a lot of respect for Weis' opinion, so you have to wonder what will happen if Weis pounds his fist on the table during draft meetings and swears Clausen will be the next great NFL quarterback. At the least, you'd have to think there would be some discussions on the subject.

Ultimately, though, Pioli runs the Chiefs and he's the one who brought Cassel to Kansas City. He's surely expecting Weis to get the most out of the quarterback that's already here. Before judgments are made, Cassel deserves at least one season where the offense he runs during games is the same offense he practiced during OTAs and training camp.

C.E. Wendler: There's a rumor going around that Weis is not Cassel's biggest fan. Based on his sideline demeanor last season, and the consistent support he's shown for Brodie Croyle even in just one year, it's not difficult to reach a conclusion that Todd Haley wouldn't complain if the Chiefs brought in competition for Cassel.

But are the Chiefs going to replace Cassel as starter next season? Such a thought is ludicrous. We can probably safely rule out the idea that the Chiefs might make a run at drafting Clausen with their top pick. Quinn's stock has clearly fallen since he was drafted and at this point he's accomplished far less than Cassel in the NFL.


Could the Chiefs trade Cassel to a team like Denver? I know there were rumors last year that the Broncos wanted him. Since the Chiefs had some reported interest in Brandon Marshall, what about Cassel to Denver for Marshall?

Nick Athan: I've heard that Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels still covets Cassel. He's upset that the Patriots traded him to Kansas City even though the Broncos apparently offered better draft picks.

There is talk that Pioli has strong interest in obtaining Marshall but I can't see the two AFC West teams making a trade even though last season there were indications that the Chiefs, Broncos and Cardinals were trying to swing a three-team trade that could have sent Marshall to the Chiefs.


Is Cassel up for a trade?
Tony Dejak - AP

Michael Ash: Why would the Chiefs have any interest in Marshall after he acted out yet again at the end of Denver's season? There's no doubt he's a talented player, but how many times has he proven to be a problem? Some day in the future when Pioli has created a stable winning environment like he had in New England, he'll take a chance on those types of players. But that time isn't now.

Going back to the earlier "what if" about Weis pounding the drum for Clausen, perhaps if Denver was willing to trade their first round pick for Cassel then it might be something the Chiefs would listen to. But even then, why help the Broncos fix their quarterback situation? We know Pioli thinks highly of Cassel, so it would have to take an awful lot for him to hand him over to a division rival.

C.E. Wendler: Why is Cassel still being talked about as a player with trade potential? It's ludicrous at this point. He's signed for six years to a huge contract, the general manager is firmly in his camp and the Chiefs are trying to move forward on offense. Picking a rookie quarterback or trading for one who has to learn the system is highly counterproductive at this point.

The Chiefs aren't going to trade Cassel. Not this offseason, and probably not ever. If he flames out in Kansas City they'll probably just cut him. But that day, if it even arrives, is a long way away.

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