Over the next few weeks as KC Chiefs owner Clark Hunt decides what he wants to do moving forward with the current leadership group, we're going to hear a lot of people complaining about Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel.
And rightfully so. Those two are a big part of why the Chiefs are currently 2-12.
But back when the moves were made, we were singing a different tune.
I wanted to take a step back to 2009 when the Chiefs hired GM Scott Pioli and traded for Matt Cassel. Back then, those were both very good moves by the Chiefs.
1. Hiring Scott Pioli as general manager
I don't know if everyone remembers what a big deal this was when the Chiefs hired him but it was truly a significant moment. Pioli was not only the big fish in 2009, but he was the big fish the few years before that, too. His star was brighter than anyone's. There's a reason that he, a first-time GM, is paid handsomely by Clark Hunt. Back then, that was a brilliant move by Hunt. Frankly, it still is a brilliant move because four years ago anyone with an open GM job (and some without it) wanted a piece of Pioli and the Chiefs beat everyone out to get him. That's an accomplishment.
Obviously things have changed. The Chiefs are the worst team in football. We've all been through the problems. We know what they are.
But that doesn't change the fact that, four years ago, hiring Pioli was a terrific move. Hindsight is 20/20.
Hunt's ability to sign the biggest candidate on the market back then is encouraging to me if he's going to be out looking once again in a few weeks.
2. Trading for and signing Matt Cassel
There are two parts to this -- the trade and then the contract.
The trade. It was a very good move at the time. Making an effort to find a franchise quarterback? Yeah, that's something we hadn't seen in a few years, especially coming off the Huard/Croyle/Thigpen era. I LOVED that the Chiefs made a bold move, gave up something valuable and tried to get their guy. That's the risk it takes. Doing things like that is the only way you can find that franchise guy. Laugh at teams like the Browns but at least they spend first round picks on quarterbacks and TRY to find that guy.
February 2009: Do you approve of the Matt Cassel trade?
This year, being bold is probably going to be mean drafting a quarterback in the first or second round. But back then being bold was making that trade. The idea is the same. There was reason to think the Chiefs got a steal. In fact, the Chiefs were thought to have gotten such a good deal, that sports columnists wrote that the league should investigate the trade because it was so one-sided -- and they were completely serious.
Of course, things didn't work out. We all know that by now. But back then the Cassel move was a good one AND looking back it was the best option at the time. Cassel had more promise than any other 2009 draftee outside of Matthew Stafford and with Pioli at the helm we had good reason to think it would work out. So it was a good move back then even if now know it sucks.
If people can get past their current distaste for Cassel's play, I think they can remember being excited about the trade initially.
The contract. This is where a lot of people now have a problem. The six-year, $63 million contract that reportedly paid out nearly $30 million in the first two years. A few points about this:
The Chiefs did not overpay for Cassel. That was the going rate for players of his caliber and experience at the time.
The Chiefs were never hindered by Cassel's contract. They were never so far up against the cap they couldn't make a move because of his deal. The idea that the Chiefs couldn't make certain moves because of the Cassel deal is false.
The contract was pre-determined. Once you made the trade, you knew the contract was coming. And rightfully so. You don't give up a pick like a second rounder and not commit yourself to multiple years.