I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't feel like the Chiefs' entire offseason is one giant Catch-22. I'll give you some examples of what I mean as we move throughout my discussion, but ultimately, I'm not sure if Pioli/Haley can "win" regardless - I believe this is almost solely true thanks to what Good Ole Carl left us!
I feel like our absolute first priority (THIS WEEK!) should be to sign/designate a defensive coordinator. It seems illogical and irrational to begin a free agency signing period with the 32nd ranked defense, $50 million in cap space, and no defensive coordinator. This is where I find the Chiefs in their first no-win situation. Who do we all feel would make the best DC for our team...I think the resounding response is likely Romeo Crennel. I agree. But, the issue that exists is his pentient/desire to manage a 3-4 defensive football unit. While I think that this alleviates some of our concern along the defensive line (Dorsey can, in fact, play any of those three positions, and Hali and Tyler can play ends), I think that it exacerbates our position amongst the linebacking core. Maybe its fair to say that Donnie Edwards was done, but lets face it, he was #2 on the LB depth chart last year behind DJ. Now we have ONE LB. A switch to a 3-4 defense means that we must come up with 3 STARTERS in one offseason...ouch! We could move Hali back to OLB but I'm not sure if he can make that transition. And, even if he does, that just means we're short either a NT or a DE...neither of which are particularly deep in this years draft. Problem number one - 3-4 Defense and Romeo Crennel. I say take Romeo and hope he'll hold off for 1-2 seasons and play a hybrid 4-3/3-4 while we build some depth and talent.
The nice thing for our defense is that our secondary is pretty good - and is going to get much better (with both experience and also with a pass rush). The four starters are young and talented! So, we can focus on building a front seven. I feel like we can do this most promptly and effeciently by adding Curry/Orapko in round 1, and English/Mathews/etc. in round 2 (I'll talk more about this later). I also think that some free agents we should take a look at include: Vilma (obviously) and Crowder (seems more and more popular the closer we get to FA). I also think we should look at Bart Scott and Bertraind Berry (Arizona DL...looked real good in the playoffs). Would people please stop talking about Peppers? We are not in a position to pay Carolina what they want. With any two of those four players, we are a much different football team.
The second place the Chiefs find themselves in a self-inflicted predicament in regards to the offseason is the QB situation. I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know - but Haley/Pioli have a difficult decision to make in regards to this deal. I feel in my heart that given an offensive line and another upper-middle level WR, the offense could be phenomenal under Tyler Thigpen. With or without LJ, the RB core is fine - Charles and Smith could both be quite good. But, if we decide Thigpen isn't the guy, do we keep him or let him go? If we keep him, is he going to just play a backup role...lame. If we let him go, is Minnesota going to win a SB with our leftover DE and QB...it could happen. If we decide that Thiggy isn't the answer, do we draft a QB or pick up a veteran? I think both...eventually. I have liked Leftwhich in a Chiefs uniform since before he was drafted...strong arm, tough, and smart. He's been injury prone, but that just makes him cheap (which Pioli likes) and under the radar (which Pioli loves). Or, we could trade for Matt Cassel. You know, that guy who's started 15 games since high school but took a 16-0 team out of the playoffs??? I don't think he can be the answer and we are going to lose a draft pick bidding war Minnesota. Solution: I think we pick up Leftwhich and draft Pat White (this kid is going to be a player in this league...top of round 3 is a steal!). If that combo works this year, then we are set. If not, Sam Bradford looks mighty fine indeed. But we don't lose much by risking on those two QB's and letting them and Thiggy battle out for the starting job.
SIDE NOTE: I've heard mention of us trading Gonzo and LJ to Arizona for Boldin and Leinart. I can't imagine that Arizona is even remotely interested, but if they are, we should be polishing their boots trying to get that deal done. Can you say steal? Matt Leinart will be a starting QB and be real good by the time its all said and done. Two players on their way up for two on their way out? A no brainer for us - I'd even offer a 2nd rounder to seal this deal.
The third place we find ourselves in a pickle is with the RB of yesteryear. LJ is a baby, a woman beater, and has a bad attitude. I appreciate Pioli, Haley and Carthon's desire to talk with him and try to fix it...but please...let him go. He's still worth a 4th rounder (OL Primetime in this draft) this year...but after he has a jail stint and another season ending injury we'll just have to cut him. Let him go...please.
Our offensive line is atrocious. Brian Waters and Brandon Albert are lone bright spots, and I'm afraid Waters doesn't have much left in the tank (EG: we've got to start grooming a replacement). This, in my opinion, should be the focus of most of the draft and some of FA as well. I think its easier and smarter to draft offensive linemen. That being said, I don't think there is a chance we use round 1 on a tackle. They're real good and all, but we don't have the luxury of moving an above average player to get another above average player. Simply put - Albert is a great LT...Why draft a new one? Look for Max/Unger (if no FA) OR Robinson/Andre Smith in round 2. Saturday or Brown in FA. And maybe look for a new guard in later rounds. Maybe a RT in 3 or 4 if possible, and move Rudy inside to guard. A line of Albert, Waters, Saturday/Brown, Rudy, Misc draft or FA would like pretty solid. I think we need to get 2 (minimum) or 3 starters out of this offseason.
I also think we need a speedster WR. I don't really have any suggestions for this move because I haven't done the research (my bad). If Harvin somehow dropped to 34 though...I think he is scary good.
My ideal Chiefs offseason would look something like this:
Trade LJ for a 4th rounder...or 3rd if we're lucky. The only way I trade Gonzo is in the package explained above with Arizona...then we get Leinart and Boldin. Other than that, we made the right cuts yesterday.
FA has to have several targets, but my ideal six pack is:
1) Jason Brown (C/G, Baltimore) - edges out Saturday due to age
2) Byron Leftwhich (QB, Pittsburgh) - I like this guy, either wins the starting job or is a veteran backup.
3) Speed WR (this is optional and open for debate)
4) Channing Crowder (LB, Miami) - good value pick up, Pioli's kind of deal
5) Jonathan Vilma (LB, NO) - Just a good, solid pick up
6) Bertrain Berry (DT (end in a 3-4, Arizona) - Dangerously good, I think
This leaves the draft wide open and fabulous - I'll assume we get no extra picks -
Round the First - Brian Orapko (DE/OLB) - Frankly I think after the FA period (assuming both of the aboe are signed) this is a bigger need. Its a reach at #3, but its necessary. We saw last year what no pass rush means in this league. If not, Curry.
Round the Second - Andre Smith (RT) - A ton of flexibility with this pick because of FA savy. His poor combine decisions and bad workout on pro-day (coming) works in our favor and we get a steal. Look for Harvey and Robinson if they are there.
Round the Third - Pat White (QB, Returner, RB, WR) - His versatility and skill make this a value pick and provides depth everywhere. Probably makes the roster as a returner.
Round the Fourth - Value OL/DL
Round the Fifth - Speed WR
Round the Sixth - Value OL/DL
Round the Seventh - Ian Campbell (DE/LB) - He's a good tackler, can provide depth at OLB, ILB and DE...not to mention play special teams both ways. Another versatile guy that Pioli likes - big, strong, smart and flexible.
That's what I got - I'd love some feedback about my thoughts/ideas.