Now that the initial flurry of activity is over in NFL Free Agency 2012, I thought it would be fun to assign an overall grade for what the Chiefs have done so far.
First, however, a word on Scott Pioli.
I think Pioli did a tremendous job in this free agency period. I am surprised to find myself saying that because at the start of free agency I was very concerned. Two things happened early on in the process that made me nervous. The first was the news that Peyton Manning refused to even visit the Chiefs. This still boggles my mind because for my money, other than the 49ers, the Chiefs have the best roster for Peyton to win now. The fact that Manning wouldn’t even give the Chiefs a whiff made me angry. Was it because the Chiefs have a bad reputation in NFL circles? Is it because of the whole “Arrowhead Anxiety” thing? Is it Scott Pioli?
An NFL team’s GM is supposed to be able to attract top talent. You don’t get much closer to the top than Peyton Manning.
I’m still not thrilled about this situation, however I can’t put it all on Pioli. The Chiefs made it known that they were interested in Manning, and we know they even called and spoke with his people on multiple occasions.
One thing that has been clear throughout this process is that nobody really knows what is going on inside Manning’s head.
The other event that had me rattled was when the Chiefs lost out on TE John Carlson. Carlson was the first free agent set to visit the Chiefs. He reportedly landed in Kansas City but then got an offer so great from the Vikings that he blew town before even meeting the Chiefs. At that point, it appeared as though the Chiefs had been punked twice.
In actuality, I was glad Carlson left town. I think Kevin Boss is a much better option and I agree that the Vikings drastically overpaid for Carlson.
What had me concerned, however, was Pioli’s lack of aggression. According to reports, the Chiefs were very interested in Carlson. He was the first free agent they were bringing in. How could they let him get out of town if they wanted him so bad? Was this going to happen with other players the Chiefs wanted? After all, at the time Eric Winston was in Miami meeting with the Dolphins. Most of us agreed that Winston was a guy the Chiefs had to have. How could the Chiefs be so foolish as to not ensure they had Winston in Kansas City first?
Fortunately for me and for the Chiefs, it isn’t always how you start. It’s how you finish.
And the Chiefs and Pioli finished strong.
They quickly shook off the loss of Carlson to land Boss, a better TE at a better price. They then moved on to shore up their running back position my landing former Brown Peyton Hillis. Pioli signed him to a one-year “prove it” deal. Should Hillis work out, Pioli can re-sign him mid-season at a team friendly rate and should he flop, the team will be quickly rid of him. Very high reward, very low risk for Pioli.
After assembling what could easily be the most potent backfield in the NFL, Pioli spent the rest of the weekend wooing Eric Winston. He even took him out for BBQ at Jack Stack, which let’s be honest, probably closed the deal. The Chiefs landed the best RT available and potentially the best RT in the NFL. The Barry Richardson era will be but a bitter, painful memory.
Lastly, Pioli addressed the QB position by signing Brady Quinn. Quinn, a former first round pick, seems to be a pretty divisive figure. Some folks think he still has untapped potential to be a franchise QB while others think he’s a worthless bum.
Regardless of where you stand, you can’t argue that Quinn isn’t an intriguing signing. Pioli locked him up for a year and gets to get a first-hand look at him this offseason. Quinn’s only real shot to start was in Cleveland on a roster full of guys that aren’t even in the NFL anymore. He’s never had anywhere near the amount of talent at his disposal that the Chiefs currently have on offense. If he somehow works out, Pioli is a genius. If he doesn’t the Chiefs lose nothing. Quinn is on a one-year contract as well.
What is important is that Quinn is an upgrade over Palko. The Chiefs are better at QB.
Pioli’s done an excellent job of addressing many of the team’s problems from a year ago. Still, he hasn’t been perfect. The Manning thing is still annoying and it might have been smarter to spend a little money to retain Kyle Orton instead of bringing in a cheaper option in Quinn.
If QB wasn’t the most important position on the team, I’d be giving Pioli perfect marks here. Unfortunately, he could have done a little more to shore up that position.
But he didn’t do nothing and after the last few years, that is a welcome change.
Pioli’s Free Agency Grade So Far:
Pioli has earned his share of criticism over the years but he’s also had his moments where he deserves praise. This is one of them.
Obviously the Chiefs may not be finished so Pioli has a chance to improve upon his work here. Still, an A- ain’t bad.
What is your grade for Pioli so far?