Yes, I know free agency isn't finished. Yes, I know that we may well sign more players after I write this. Yes, I know it would take some kind of fanatic to break down FA at this point. Yes, I know the old, "pretend you're answering questions" writing technique is overused and tired. Let's move on...
For those of you who are relative newbs, about this time last year in FA (well, not by the calender with the lockout and whatnot, but you know what I mean) I wrote a post that blatantly copied TV Guides "Cheers and Jeers" section. I talked about what the Chiefs had done worth cheering for, and what they'd done that deserved a jeer.
We're gonna do that again. Only this time, I may have to search around the league to find a few extra "Jeers." Because so far, I'm personally pretty happy with how FA has gone. It's a good day to be a Chiefs fan.Cheers: For the "Other Peyton" Signing
I may as well start with a topic that some will disagree with me on. More fun, right? (notice how I continue to use the "question answering" writing method even after admitting its overused and tired? Yeah, I'm kind of a hack. And frankly a little proud of it).
I'll cover the guy most of us wanted in a moment, but right here I'm going to talk about Hillis and Hillis only. First of all, I like the signing (hence the "Cheers"). Allow me to say just ONE thing before you crucify me for saying that... what would you have said if the Chiefs had signed him following the 2010 season? You know, the one where he ran for 1200 yards and caught 61 passes on a crappy Browns team? You'd have been ecstatic, right? Right?
Now, if we were 2 or 3 years of zero production from that, I'd say, "Who gives a crap?" But that was one injury plagued, strep-throat having, weird-rumor circulating year ago. And wanna hear something interesting? He still produced at a relatively decent level last year. He did more in 10 games than Thomas Jones did for us in 16 (I compare him to TJ because some have laughably compared the two). He was far from great, but it's not like he totally fell off the map the way many here claim.
Hillis is a big, strong guy who makes highlight videos like this. The man can run the rock. He's bigger, faster, and better at breaking tackles than any back we had last year (well, he's not faster than Dex, but why nitpick when you could just nod and agree?). Throw in the fact that we got him for a VERY cheap, heavily incentive-based one year deal and you're looking at the potential for a repeat of 2010 for Hillis (there's that Daboll guy too. I've heard he might be able to work with Hillis). Cheers!
Jeers: (Probably) Not Getting Mike Tolbert
Remember I said I'd mention that other guy we wanted? Well, Tolbert was my first choice. He was more productive last year and doesn't seem to bring any potential drama with him. I think he's also a guy who would've been more willing to sign a long term deal (Hillis has EVERY reason for a one yeard deal).
The guy was here and we lost him. Frankly, that stinks. I would've preferred this guy over Hillis any day of the week, and it seems (until further notice) that we've settled for the 2nd choice. Yes, Scott, I'm cheering and jeering you all at the same time. It's a special talent that seems to come naturally to me as a Chiefs fan. Should've been Tolbert, Scott. Jeers!
(Note: If we somehow still sign Tolbert... my bad, Scott. Still friends? Acquaintances? Non-enemies? I'd settle for "guy you won't spit on if you ever meet him"...)
Cheers: The Routt Signing
This was just a clutch move. Brandon Carr was looking to get PAID (and rightfully so), and with money locked up in Flowers and Berry, the Chiefs couldn't afford to do it. Looks like a major blow to our up-and-coming defense, right? Wrong. Routt gets cut from the "We've only got 5 guys left on the team!!! How are we still over the cap??" Oakland Raiders. In sweeps Pioli, and boom. A decent replacement for Carr for about 4 million less per year than Carr ended up getting in Dallas.
Routt gets a bad rap for leading the league in penalties last year, as he should. But this was a guy who was asked to do more than he should have been. He's a #2 corner who played on a directionless team that had issues across the board with penalties. I look at his whole career and see a solid, solid #2 guy.
Jeers: Not Getting Dwayne Bowe Signed Long Term
This affected us on two levels. First, we don't have Bowe for longer than this year. That's the "duh" part. The other part has to do with Carr. Had we been able to get Bowe signed, we could have slapped the franchise tag on Carr and gotten solid value for him rather than just losing him outright. I don't know about you, but I'd be just fine with another 2nd round pick to play with in the draft.
Now I get that it takes two to tango, and that there's a chance Bowe is asking for an unreasonable amount. So I reserve this Jeer for whichever party is at fault. Pioli, if you were lowballing Bowe and we lost Carr for nothing as a result, that was some terrible GM'ing on your part (new verb alert!). Bowe, if you were asking for ANYTHING in the neighborhood of what Calvin Johnson got, you're nuts. Jeers to one of you! (or maybe both. I'm not picky about who to jeer. Crap, I jeered my wife the other day when she asked me to get off AP. On a related note, does anyone have a sofa I can crash on for a few days?)
Cheers: Kevin Boss
Backup TE was a position of dire need for us. We all saw what Leonard Pope and the "Forgettables" did at TE with Tony Moeaki hurt. Now we've got a guy who is at least AVERAGE to come in and play if To-Mo isn't able to go-go (and now I've conjured up images of Moeaki as a go-go dancer. You're welcome). The more optimistic approach? We've got ourselves a good blocker and decent receiver to come in on 2-TE sets, which we may be seeing a lot of this year if reports are to be believed.
Now, we apparently didn't get our "first choice" in Carlson. But c'mon... 25 million over 5 years? For Carlson? Sheesh... I'll take the guy who has produced more consistently and been hurt less for less money, thanks. Now, of course this means we're going to be hearing "like a Boss" jokes all year, but I'll gladly pay that price for an upgrade in depth. Cheers!
Jeers: Insane Contracts
This is about the NFL in general, not the Chiefs. But it's relevant. Contracts have become INSANE. Calvin Johnson (who will be my example) is an absolute stud, don't get me wrong. But no receiver is worth 14% of the team's cap space. None. ESPECIALLY when the team in question has a young stud of a QB who could get 80% of the contribution out of a receiver that would cost the team half as much. Just crazy. Wide receivers, even freaks like Johnson, are less important to an offense than the line, the quarterback, and the running back. So basically, less important than every other person on the field besides the TE.
Let me put it this way... what if instead of extending Calvin Johnson, the Lions had traded him for a 1st and a 3rd rounder (easily attainable) and signed Vincent Jackson for 5 million a year less? Are you seriously telling me that Jackson couldn't provide most of what Johnson does, and that the picks/savings wouldn't make up the difference? Just insanity.
There's a time and a place (and a position group) for splurging. Mario Williams? Worth the money in my opinion. But a stud pass rusher is more rare AND more important than a stud WR, plus there's more of a gap between a stud pass rusher like Williams and "good" pass rushers and a stud receiver like Megatron and "good" receivers.
Contracts like this leave me shaking my head. They could've done themselves much better by trading Megatron and signing another guy. Yet instead they may have just made it impossible to sign Bowe for a reasonable number. Jerks.
And that's leaving out Pierre Garcon, the LUCKIEST SOB alive. Jeers for spending like a crazy person when there are other options out there.
Cheers: The Eric Winston Signing
Duh. Everyone knows that this is a "cheer." So much so that I'm not even really going to talk about it that much...
HA! Yeah right, like any of you believed that...
Here's the deal with Winston: from what I understand he's not that good a pass blocker. Some Houston fans told me that he's OK at it, but is a liability at times. Even those fans admit, though, that he's an absolute animal as a run blocker.
Here's the beauty of it though... even an AVERAGE pass blocker is a MONUMENTAL upgrade over Barry Richardson, the absolute worst pass blocking RT who started in the NFL in 2011. That guy is just awful at pass blocking, and frankly, overrated as a run blocker. I mean, for all the talk of him as a "mauler," how many running plays to his side made you say, "wow that was nice blocking." It happens at least a few times a game for Brandon Albert, but I don't remember many of those from B-Rich.
So what you've got is a major upgrade in both your pass blocking and run blocking. Huge, huge, CHEERS for this signing. And for 4 years and 22 million dollars? Which brings me to another Cheer...
Cheers: Spending Wisely and Making Deals
I've had my doubts about the whole, "Let's Make a Deal!" approach it seems Pioli takes. Unless he can get the guy on the cheap, it seems like he avoids him altogether. I, like many here, wondered if this would prevent us from getting guys we need.
The Winston contract has silenced that doubt in me for now. Everyone here was willing to pay Winston 7-8 million a year, and many talked about going as high as 10 if need be. But we got him for 5.5 million per year. That's just a ridiculous deal. Throw in Hillis (cheap contract, incentive based), Routt (cheaper contract than arguably worse CB's picked up on the open market), and Boss (2 million per year less than a guy he's had a better career than), and I may just start to buy into this "discount shopping" method.
Now, don't get me wrong, I favor spending when you have to. For example, I would've loved to see them sign up Soliai even though they would've had to pay him 8-9 million per year. But in general, we seem to be getting decent players for great contracts. We've still got what, another 12 million or so to spend still? Who knows, maybe we're not out of the You-Know-Who Sweepstakes...
(I'm kidding. I believe we are completely out of it, and I'm OK about it at this point)
Cheers AND Jeers: Quarterback Competition?
Look, I'll start with the positive because, hey, I'm a sunny guy. I like getting Brady Quinn on the cheap. It's a low-risk move that COULD pan out. Supposedly the coaching staff of DEN was ready to start Quinn against the Steelers, which shows they thought enough of him to at least consider the wrath of Tebow Lovers around the world. As a fellow APer talked about at length here, an argument can be made that Quinn has had the WORST possible luck anyone could have as a young QB. Will he pan out? I don't think so, but I like the signing. That said...
That's our competition for Cassel? Seriously? I mean, I get that the QB market isn't all that great, and that there's mostly a lot of JAG's out there (Campbell, Orton, Garrard, etc.) besides Pey-Pey, but come on! A 2nd year guy who was drafted in the 5th round and a guy who hasn't been able to produce anything of note at the pro level? That's a competition? I guess I expected more. I'm willing to be a little more patient about it because of my happiness with our other FA moves, but this is a major Jeer for me at this point.
Our team looks ready to compete. We don't have many holes left. And we may spend a year of this roster with a competition of Cassel/Stanzi/Quinn? That just doesn't seem right to me. Hopefully one of them shows up huge and shocks me... but I'm a little tired of waiting for that to happen. Jeers!
Cheers: A Wide Open Horizon
We've got options like (as craig recently said so eloquently) George Clooney at a singles bar. With the signings of Routt, Hillis, Boss, and Winston, we addressed nearly all of the weak spots on our team. And there's plenty of time left in FA. And then there's the draft. Our team is looking way stronger than it was at this time last year, with our only significant loss being Brandon Carr (who is replaced by a decent player), and with significant upgrades at #2 RB, #2 TE, and RT.
Even if we stand pat from now until the draft (VERY doubtful given our cap space), we've got a ton of options as to what to do with that #11 pick. DeCastro? A QB? Trade back? That one defensive lineman who runs really fast and is really good at lifting stuff(kidding, I know his name. I'm just trying to get a rise out of Poe's fanclub)? An inside LB? Lots of directions we could go (me, I'm on the "DeCastro in the first train. We're close to a very, very good line. Let's finish it and have Lilja as great depth).
And that's just the first round pick we're talking about. The possibilities are truly endless.
So far, I've got to give this FA period an overall CHEER. Well done so far, Scott.
Now, go get us a NT (unless, as I believe is a possibility, Powe is ready) and some depth across the board. Maybe an ILB to make Texas Chief happy. Whatever it is, make sure you keep up the good work. We've got a ways to go still.