As we all sit around, with the upcoming trade deadline upcoming, I would just like to congratulate the Chiefs for coming to their senses. This team, in what seems like the most hopeless stages of rebuild mode, cannot survive on seven draft picks a year.
I want to take just a real brief moment and set all of our expectations up properly with a breakdown of the value of each of these players that are supposedly on our trading block. Let's also breakdown exactly how likely it is that any of these players are on our roster by sundown Tuesday.
TE Tony Gonzalez
What he is: A flashback to old school, to the days where tight ends were actually put on the field to block and receive. There is no weakness in Tony G's game, as he is capable of blocking better than most tight ends in this league, is coming off a 99-catch season from one of the worst offenses in the league, and owns perhaps the most phenomenal tight end reception of the year against Denver. He is also a great leader, a perfect citizen, and Hall of Fame bound.
Where he is: The twilight of his career. However, Tony's numbers have hardly fallen off. Many speculate that as fit as he stays (Gonzalez's workouts leading up to games with other star TEs are legendary), he could still play competitively in this league for a few more years. His Pro Bowl days are sharply numbered, however, just on the basis of age.
What he can do: He can block, he is your security blanket across the middle, and he can lead. But perhaps most importantly, he can adjust to virtually any offense, having seen at least three radically different incarnations of the Chiefs offense during his tenure as a Chief. He will be a factor for your team by the end of the year if you pick him up now.
Worth: All things considered, it's either a 3rd alone or a 4th + 6th package. Before you get your blood boiling, loyal Chiefs fans, consider that Jason Taylor, about the same age, just got traded for a 2nd. DE is valued far more in the NFL than TE by a long shot, and Taylor was traded in the more relaxed atmosphere of the offseason, rather than up against the trade deadline, when teams are hesitant to pull the trigger on any deal. Most all of the teams in the market for Tony do not need him, so their offers won't be the 2nd or 3rd that Gonzalez would normally warrant. However, rumors suggest half a dozen teams are interested, which could play an equalizing factor here.
RB Larry Johnson
What he is: The perfect antihero, the guy whose morals in no way line up with yours but no man worth his salt would ever turn down being on his side in the heat of battle. However, he is an albatross when unhappy, which happens any time he does not get the ball early and often in games. Because he is such a lousy blocker, he is of no use on third down, which demands run plays on first and second down; nobody likes to admit it in Kansas City, but LJ is a big reason why our offense is so predictable. That said, however, with good blocking he is a Top 5 RB in this league. With elite blocking, no RB in the league can touch him.
Where he is: He is still capable of giving a new team a handful of solid years. LJ's spirit may sag during weak years such as this one, but his dedication to staying fit never does. I've been surprised every year at how physically fit he looks at training camp. It's unlikely that he can carry an offense by himself anymore, but he can still produce in an even-handed offense.
What he can do: He can run, and get the hard yards. Not a terribly impressive blocker and while he gets along for the most part with teammates, he has never been any kind of emotional leader. Given the hole, LJ can make the most of it between the tackles -- matter of fact, he may be best inheriting a Jerome Bettis-type role on a talented offense.
Worth: At this point, he's worth a 4th. There's no way any team in the NFL will want to pay the price that Carl Peterson is asking at the latest trading stage in the season. There aren't a lot of teams that are willing to cough up a first-day pick for a guy who doesn't block at a position that most teams value little. It's possible that the Chiefs could land a good deal this coming offseason for LJ, when teams are more relaxed and everybody's thinking ambitiously. But at this point, it's near impossible the Chiefs get anything better than a 4th for LJ. If anybody offered a 3rd (which nobody will), Peterson should leap on it--but I'm probably guessing he won't.
QB Damon Huard
What he is: An unflappable veteran in most circumstances that include more than 1.2 seconds of pass protection. He can make most of the safe passes, and all of the smart passes, but is occasionally stifled by tricky coverages and will make a braindead mistake. He is a savvy veteran who can bide time and take a hit, and he can provide the minimal leadership abilities needed to keep an offense afloat long enough.
Where he is: At the end. In his mid-thirties and clearly losing a step, any team picking him up now understands that he is on his last legs and will likely not suit up in 2009 unless lured by a stupid contract.
What he can do: He can man your ship just long enough for whomever you really want quarterbacking to return. He's done it his entire career, and he plays consistently every single week -- you know precisely what you're getting out of him whenever you suit him up: 150-200 yards passing, maybe a TD or two, maybe an INT.
Worth: If somebody truly wants to pry him away from the Chiefs, a conditional 5th that could conflate to a 4th if he gets them to the playoffs. If the Chiefs just want to unload him, they might just take a 6th. The rumor is that the Patriots are in the search for a reliable game-manager to fill the gap between now and Tom Brady's return on a golden cloud as angels sound their bugles. The Patriots are loaded with talent everywhere, feature great pass protection, but need a sure, unflappable hand to at least not screw things up. Huard may be what the doctor ordered, but he won't be commanding much.
CB Patrick Surtain
What he is: Washed up.
Where he is: At the very end of his career.
What he can do: Provide an opponent's wide receivers 10 yards of cushion.
Worth: If the Chiefs managed to gain any sort of compensation for Surtain, at all, at any point, I'd be surprised. Take the conditional 7th and thank the team for taking his cap hit.