Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has done some media rounds recently, mostly on his team’s own website, to talk about the hiring of new head coach Romeo Crennel.
One of the big questions asked of Pioli, which he has no intention of answering in a forthright manner, is whether or not the Chiefs will retain some of their top free agents. The two players most folks probably want to know about are CB Brandon Carr and WR Dwayne Bowe.
Pioli still has plenty of time to work on retaining these players. They won’t become free agents until mid-March so the GM has about 60 days to get deals worked out.
Still, some of Pioli’s quotes this week lead me to believe that there could be trouble.
The first quote comes from an interview with Mitch Holthus on KCChiefs.com. While talking with Mitch about Crennel’s hire, the subject of re-signing the team’s own free agents came up.
“The players that are going to be free agents, again it takes two to be married,” said Pioli. “It takes the player wanting to be here and us wanting to retain the player and a lot of these contract decisions are at different stages depending on the player and the situation.”
Pioli didn’t mention any particular player by name but his wording is curious. We all understand that it takes two to tango but why does Pioli feel it necessary to emphasize that? Is there a chance that one of KC’s big free agents is unhappy and wants to test the free agent waters?
It is hard to speculate when the GM didn’t mention any players by name. Yet, yesterday morning while doing an interview on 810 WHB’s Border Patrol:
“These are guys that are key components of the past and hopefully the future,” said Pioli. “They’re players we have a great deal of respect for. We’re going to try to continue to talk to those guys and, again, it’s a matter of what those players want to do with us as well.”
Ok, now that worries me. Now, at least in my mind, Pioli has connected his comments on KCChiefs.com directly to Carr and Bowe. He didn’t need to say that those players need to want to stay in KC. We know that. All we really wanted to hear was that Pioli was trying to re-sign them. We sort of got that by Pioli saying that he hoped the players would be a part of the future, but he immediately followed that statement up with “it’s a matter of what those players want to do as well.”
This could mean there is a problem, but it could also just mean that either Bowe or Carr or both want to test the free agent waters. If they sign with the Chiefs now, they won’t ever really know what the market would have paid for them. That isn’t to say that they might not still want to return to KC, but they may not have anything to lose by becoming free agents. Both Bowe and Carr are good players and will draw a lot of attention. If they feel what Pioli is currently offering is low, they can use becoming free agents as leverage in their negotiations with the Chiefs.
It is in Pioli’s best interest to sign Bowe and Carr before they become free agents for obvious reasons. Aside from the risk of losing one or both players, Pioli could also end up in a bidding war for his own guys that could force him to pay way more than he wants to.
It would be refreshing if Pioli were just a bit more straight forward. I could live with him just saying that he absolutely wants them both back and that he is doing everything he can to work out a deal before they hit the market. Instead, we get the usual vague quotes.
I still don’t believe Pioli will let these guys walk. At least not both of them. He will likely identify the player he thinks is most important to the team’s success and use the franchise tag on him. Most folks seem to think that is what he’ll do with Bowe but I am not so sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if he franchised Carr instead and then worked out a long-term deal with him similar to what he did with Tamba Hali a season ago. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Pioli believes good NFL CBs are harder to come by than good NFL receivers. If I’m right, it could be Bowe that will soon be hitting the market.