After Thursday’s practice, just four practices remain in the Kansas City Chiefs‘ 2022 training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph — and on Saturday, the team opens its preseason schedule on the road against the Chicago Bears.
As it prepares for what we hope will be another deep playoff run, it’s a crucial time to be evaluating the team’s roster. Assistant general manager Mike Borgonzi recently described how the front office’s process works during the dog days of camp.
“So we’re out here every day, watching practice,” he said, “and after practice, we’re in there watching tape multiple times to really hone in on different position groups and players. At night, we’re meeting with the coaches to get their input [and] their rankings on the players. How are they doing in the meeting rooms? How are they picking up the playbook? Are the new guys getting acclimated to our culture?”
With all the new faces brought in during the offseason, that evaluation looks a little different this year. But even after bringing in 50 new players, the front office is continuing its search for talent.
“We’re never going to stop trying to add to this roster,” noted Borgonzi. “You know, when you get up to the training camp, the draft is over.
“There are a few different ways [to get more talent]: it’s through street free agency — [you] saw us sign [defensive end] Carlos Dunlap last week. And then through the waiver-claim process that happens here after the cutdown date is a big time for us. And then you’ve also seen us make some small trades during the preseason, whether it’s player-for-player or [for] conditional picks. Think back in 2018: that’s how we were able to acquire Charvarius Ward in a trade with Dallas [in] a player-for-player [trade].
“So we’re always looking for different ways to add players, to add competition to the group throughout training camp. It’s just all part of the process here as we try to get down to the best 53 players [and the] best 16-man practice squad as we head into Week 1.
“[We’re] excited about this weekend — another great opportunity for these guys to come out and showcase what they can do and compete — and then, you know, [it’s a] great opportunity for us to kind of evaluate them in game-like conditions.”
Adding to the competition is something that is reiterated through each level of Kansas City’s organization. From general manager Brett Veach to head coach Andy Reid, competition is what drives the decision-making.
“I’d say that the competition has been great in every position group” observed Borgonzi. “So there are going be some players here that we’re going have to move on from — just numbers-wise — and they’re going be playing for some other team. So I [give] credit to the whole personnel department for really getting the competition in there high.
“We made it a priority to get a lot of guys in here to up the competition; these guys were out here learning every day — and these rookies have been great. They’ve gotta have their ups and downs, but they’ve been fighting through it. They’re very coachable, which is a good thing. And so far, so great.”
Borgonzi — in his 14th year with the Chiefs — has worn many hats in the Kansas City organization since being brought in by then-GM Scott Pioli to serve as the team’s college scouting administrator.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from some great people in this business — and the three general managers that I’ve worked under. Scott hired me here in 2009. I was able to learn from him the New England scale — and how they evaluated players in the philosophy that he had with coach [Bill] Belichick.
“And then John [Dorsey] comes in here and it’s a whole different ball game, [a] whole different way of valuing guys, different grade skill, different philosophy [and] different meeting process. And that was deeply rooted from [then-Green Bay Packers general manager] Ron Wolf. So they had so two organizations that had a lot of success.
“And then with Veach, he’s put his own spin on things. Every GM — every leader — is different [in] their philosophies. I have a special relationship with Veach because we worked with each other for so long before he became general manager. So, you know, I would say the one thing I’ve learned from Veach is his ability to connect with everybody in the organization — from Clark [Hunt] to Andy to [team president] Mark [Donovan] to myself, to [head athletic trainer] Rick [Burkholder], to [communications vice president] Ted [Crews] and — you know — just being in that environment. And just everybody pulling in the right direction, I think, has been a real key to our success.”
Each offseason, it's that experience that has led to Borgonzi being a hot name for open NFL general manager positions. But for now, he remains focused on his current job.
“You know, I’m very fortunate to have the job that I have here now,” he said. “So it’s, ‘You want to stay focused on the job at hand.’ I do have aspirations to become a general manager one day. And I think when the time is right, it’ll come.”