October 14, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki (81) reacts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Is Tony Moeaki On His Way Out With the Chiefs?

When the Chiefs, with the 93rd overall pick, drafted Tony Moeaki in 2010, the team’s tight end situation was a mess. Tony Gonzalez had been traded following the 2008 season, and the 2009 season featured the Chiefs playing the likes of Brad Cottom, Sean Ryan, and Leonard Pope at the tight end position.

Moeaki came in and, once again, brought talent to the position that had been absent since Gonzalez. In fact, Moeaki surpassed Gonzalez’s rookie receiving record for a tight end with the Chiefs collecting 47 catches for 556 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs knew Moeaki had this kind of talent when they drafted him; they also knew the risk of Moeaki’s history with injuries.

At Iowa in 2007, Moeaki broke his wrist and dislocated his elbow on the same play. The injury resulted in missing the remainder of the season and the following year’s spring practice. Then, the following year, he was making a routine cut in practice and broke his foot. Trying to come back too soon from the injury led to hamstring and calf ailments, and then he suffered concussions against Iowa State and Illinois. In the NFL, Moeaki missed the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL and has now undergone arthroscopic knee surgery this spring, and won’t be on the field with the Chiefs until training camp. With his injury history, it’s no surprise that the Chiefs made tight end an emphasis this offseason.

On March 13, the Chiefs officially signed former-Dolphin tight end, Anthony Fasano, to a four-year contract worth $16 million. While many Chiefs fans thought that the Fasano signing was just to replace Kevin Boss and serve as a complement to Moeaki, the Travis Kelce-draft pick at the top of the third-round of this year’s draft put Moeaki’s future into uncertain terms.

Now, with Moeaki not able to compete for the starting job until training camp, one has to realistically expect Fasano and Kelce to carry the tight end load for next season while Moeaki battles for the third tight end spot. And yes, I do mean battle. Because if he doesn’t show that he is VERY much better than undrafted free agents Kevin Brock and Demetrius Harris, then the Chiefs could very well move on from Moeaki.

Moeaki is entering the final year of his contract, and is only scheduled to make $1.3 million this season, so there is not a strong financial reason to cut ties with Moeaki. I do think, however, the tipping point lies in Demetrius Harris, the undrafted tight end from UW-Milwaukee. Harris is the former college basketball player you’ve been hearing about this offseason, and while he is certainly no Antonio Gates or Jimmy Graham – Harris hasn’t played football since high school – the upside Harris presents is promising.

While I think Moeaki is certainly a better option for 2013 than Harris, if the Chiefs wanted to put Harris on the practice squad, he’d have to clear waivers. Are the Chiefs confident that Harris would clear waivers? Maybe, but Nick Jacobs of TWC Metro Sports in Kansas City expects another team to “snatch him up” if it comes to that point. With Moeaki’s history with injuries and only one year remaining on his contract, would Harris’s continued development this offseason be enough reason for the Chiefs to get rid of Moeaki and move forward with Harris as the team’s third tight end option? After all, this is a new coaching staff and a new front office that doesn’t have an “I don’t want to give up on the guy because I drafted him” mentality.

What do you think Chiefs fans? Do you think it might be time to move on from Moeaki, or are you still a believer in a guy that can do this? Let me know in the comments section.

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  • Calchiefsfan

    Moeaki has played 2 full seasons out of 3, the same as Eric Berry. I think he’s shown enough talent including blocking skills to make this team. Unless, of course, he gets hurt in training camp. Then its the IR for him. There’s a lot of upside to Harris but he would have to really impress at camp and in the preseason games to beat out Tony. It’s all predicated on Moeaki’s health going into the regular season.

    • 2dogs

      I agree, also he should come back as healthy as he was before his ACL surgery. 557 yards his rookie year is pretty impressive and he’s not hurting the cap.

      • Matt Dickson

        The only problem with that logic (comparing Moeaki to Berry) is that Berry wasn’t constantly injured throughout his college career. Moeaki was.

        The sample size with Moeaki is extensive. Four college years and three pro years. The idea that a player who has been constantly injured over the last seven years, will suddenly become more durable as he grows OLDER defies nature.

        • ArrowFan

          No but it could mean he is due for a string of good years.

    • KCMikeG

      Thank you for the addition of his blocking skills. He is consistently getting the break out block or even blocks for Charles. Check out Moeaki on Charles 91 yarder vs the Saints last year that ignited the greatest comeback in Chief’s history. First he chips the DE to give JC the edge and then he moves to the next level and shoves the safety out of the way creating the seam for JC to take it to the house. Guy has skills across the board. If he can only stay healthy.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Nice video Mike, that’s what I’m talking about. He’s a complete tight end which is rarity. He has great hands, runs good routes and is an excellent blocker as shown in the video you posted. Blocking is one of things that makes Bowe valuable as well. You won’t see those things in the stat sheet but it’s part of the reason that Charles has those big runs.
        I wonder if the people calling for Moeaki to be dumped for 2 complete unknowns are the same people who called for Bowe to be dumped because Jon Baldwin was having such a great spring training last year?

        We have no idea how Kelce and Harris will perform in pads let alone a real NFL game. Let’s at least see some pre season games before pronouncing Moeaki as worthless.

        • KCMikeG

          Thanks. Great points on Bowe’s blocking contributions and those so willing to let him walk because of Baldwin’s super camp too. It’s on the stat sheet – just as yards & YPC for Charles!

          What concerns me is I keep hearing about the emphasis on the TE in establishing the routes for the entire WCO offense Reid runs yet I checked and Reid only carried TWO TE’s in 2011 & 2012, 3 in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2010 and 4 in 2005 & 2009. So what changed in the last two years for him to only roster TWO TE’s? Here I was hoping we could keep 4 around like we did last year.

  • P Heitman

    The only thing that Tony Moeaki has ever done in his career is make the catch you link to above. Seriously. When you mention Tony Moeaki, that’s the only thing anyone can come up with.

    SERIOUS QUESTION: If he had never made that ONE catch, would anyone even care?

    • Justin R Groth

      I have to disagree he had a solid rookie year. Had a freak incident that cost him his sophmore year that had a lot to do with a dirty hobo. Then last year was basically his rookie year rnd 2. Where admittedly he wasn’t great, however NOBODY who’s catches passes did well on our team, which is understandable considering how bad Cassel and Quinn played and Debol called plays.

      • Matt Dickson

        “Freak accident” isn’t defined by CONSTANT injury. Freak implies something random and unexpected. This guy is literally always injured. Always has been. Always will be.

        I’d be very happy to see us enter next season with Fasano, Kelce and Harris. One veteran, swiss army knife type of TE. One rookie, deep receiving threat type of TE. And one high ceiling, developmental guy.

        In my mind, that’s kind of the perfect trio. Moeaki is obsolete.

      • P Heitman

        Freak accident? I thought he got injured on the football field.

        Look, the guy has four touchdowns for his career. Four. And barely 1,000 yards for his career. I’m well aware of how bad the QB play was and how he was recovering from a significant injury – and I certainly don’t think he’s a terrible player. But really, he’s done absolutely nothing to make me think he will be anything other than what he is (except for “the catch,” of course.). Kevin Boss played in what, two, three games? Yet he still had as many touchdowns as TM did last year.

        This kid needs a fire lit under him, and competition should do that. Competition ignites improvement and good players are up to the challenge. He definitely doesn’t deserve to be handed the job, no matter how bad the QBs (or really, the whole offense for that matter) were/was. The bottom line is that yes, he had a lot of yards as a rookie. But really, he’s just not that good…at least not enough to receive the kind of vote of confidence he continues to get from us fans. I’m not big on the whole”Rookie Year 2″ thing. That’s hogwash and is just an excuse for poor production. No one gets two rookie years. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of hype. I’m ready for production.

        Four touchdowns in two years will not cut it. That’s not production. If this kid is truly a gamer, then he should win the job. Otherwise, we’re looking at another soon-to-be former Chief that showed promise, got over-hyped, and fell flat.

        What’s worse is, this guy is spending all his time in the tub…AGAIN. Meanwhile, Fasano and Kelce are getting reps and getting better. Now. With the Tight Ends we have on this roster, he needs to play and earn a job. Otherwise, he’s, as Matt Dickinson said, obsolete.

        In conclusion, I’m not saying Moeaki is terrible. I’m saying that a) He’s not as good as people say he is, b) He’s always injured, c) Our position group doesn’t consist of O’Connell’s and Bechts and Popes to help Tony look better, d) he has done nothing in his career that makes me think he’s the second coming. All of these things combine lead to the obvious conclusion that either he gets out of the tub and starts producing on the field, or he’s expendable.

        • KCMikeG

          His health is the ONLY thing holding him back A) He can be as good as we say he is – IF healthy. B) Totally agree yet look at the accomplishments even with the injuries, caliber of QB & chaotic coaching nightmare. C) Agreed that Fasano improves the position & Kelce has major potential and Harris could develop but IMO only Kelce can rival a healthy Mo. D) Couldn’t be more wrong. While the Catch vs SF was one of the greatest EVER you are neglecting to give him credit for breaking Tony G’s rookie records which is a Huge accomplishment.

          Moeaki is far from terrible. He almost matched his record breaking rookie season last year while coming back from an ACL with Cassel & Quinn as his QB’s! He has a combined 1,009 yards in his rookie year & a recovery year. He has only been targeted an average of just over 4 times per game played which goes right back to the caliber of QB, lack of overall offensive production and terrible offensive systems/play calling. He was only 103 yards short of his rookie record season even though he got 14 less receptions on 16 less targets. Do the math at 13.7 AYPC and he would have cruised right past his rookie year if somebody, anybody could have gotten him the ball more. Again our QB and overall offensive ineptitude held him back during his recovery year. In the chaos that was 2012 he was the #13 TE in AYPC and #27 in yards. Bowe only had 801 yards (348 more), 13.6 AYPC (.1 less) and 3 TD’s (two more) so you can’t discount the poor QB’s play impact regarding Mo when it obviously significantly affected Bowe too. While he only had 1 TD – Dallas star Witten only had 3 TD’s on 77 MORE receptions! Finley (Rodgers), Fleener (Luck) and Tamme (Manning) only had one more TD than he did!

          While focusing on his injury history let’s also not forget the rest of his past like being the #1 TE HS prospect in the country and one of – if not the best blocking TE in the 2010 draft with the skill set to line up at WR too (see HC Reid’s use of TE’s). IF healthy he will be The Starter and with the emphasis on the TE in Reid’s offense the sky’s the limit – Again IF he is healthy. I totally agree it is now or never and he has to be healthy or he is done in KC.

          • P Heitman

            I never said he was terrible. Just a tad overrated. And I also said he’s never done anything of any importance or true significance. Until I see production, I’m sticking to that. I understand the “potential” factor but we all know there are plenty of guys that have “potential,” and never put it together. Breaking Gonzalez’s rookie record is indeed an accomplishment. Only, Ted Popson was the starter Gonzalez’s rookie year. Moeaki was a starter from day one. So there’s a difference. And in a way, he probably SHOULD have broken that record. I also mentioned the quarterback ineptitude as a a factor in Moeaki’s stunted development, so I agree there, too. I hope he comes out in camp and dominates, and wins a spot (not sure if he’s the starter, I see Fasano starting). BUT you can’t win a job from the training table. I know it’s not his fault, but the dude is made of glass. He’s an over-valued pick from the old regime with a rookie breathing down his neck and a solid vet ahead of him. His days are numbered.

  • calciomoti

    I’m confused, if we know his ceiling is high, and that 1.3mil is not enough reason to cut ties, then why dump him in hopes of a basketball player project?

    • Calchiefsfan

      Exactly. Let’s let training camp play out before we start calling for his head. It makes no sense when Tony has performed well for two full seasons.

  • Kyle ferguson

    The question is are you planning on giving him a new contract next year, if he is only hanging around this season and then your going to let him go why not do it now, you’ve got two capable te’s and a guy that looks like he could devleop into a good te, don’t loose your project for a guy that’s going to share the position with 2 other guys for a year. He has to come out in camp and be the best te on the field to keep his spot IMO

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Sadly, I think Moeaki is all but finished in Kansas City. Even if he makes the roster, it’s hard to see them give him a new deal. His rookie deal will expire and he’ll move on. If he isn’t cut first.

    • KCMikeG

      This year will make or break his stay in KC for the long run. His health is the only thing that will hold him back.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Unless he’s the clear #1 at tight end when the year is over, I think he’s done here.

    • Calchiefsfan

      The thing is if he is ready to go when training camp starts he will be the best TE on the team. I think we should all hope he stays healthy.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        I disagree wholeheartedly. Travis Kelce is a freak of an athlete. That kid can take a 10 yard pass to the house. He’s gifted with the ball in his hands. Moeaki has never been that kind of threat after the catch.

        I’m not rooting against Moeaki, I just don’t think he’ll be around much longer. The guy just can’t stay healthy.

        • Calchiefsfan

          I just think it’s too early to right off a guy with his talent. He’s shown he can play for two seasons with the Chiefs. I believe he is better than Fasano. Once we get into training camp and the preseason games we’ll know a lot more.
          As for Kelce, I’m excited about him. I’m hoping he tears it up this season. But I was excited about Baldwin last year all the way through training camp and look what happened. Kelce will have to prove it on the field in a real game.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Do you know how many talented players have washed out of the NFL due to injuries? That’s in no way uncommon. If he can’t stay healthy, his talent is ultimately meaningless.

            He’s better than Fasano, if he’s healthy.
            And just like Kelce will have to prove on the field that he’s better than Moeaki, Tony will have to prove he avoid injuries.

          • Calchiefsfan

            On that we can agree.

  • Jim Butler

    I’m in favor of cutting him, if he can’t stay healthy no matter how good he is, what good is he. It does the team no good if he’s not on the field

  • Jim Harper

    I think in the final analysis that the problem will take care of itself during preseason. Reid & Dorsey have shown time again that if you are not what they want then they will cut you. Just ask Eric Winston. The bottom line is if you are spending a lot of time injured then you are just taking up a roster spot that someone else who can play will make better use of.

  • ArrowFan

    I want the three best TE we can have, if one is named Tony I like that as nastalsha but it isn’t a must.

  • Michael Shaw

    I think if Moeaki cannot get his health issues resolved, then we need to move on from him. I personally don’t see why we couldn’t keep 4 TE’s since we lack receiving help. If he DOES stay healthy i could see him in the slot with Wylie or McCluster Talk about a matchup nightmare!! The guy has the skill set to be one of the best TE’s in football, if he JUST STAYS HEALTHY! I agree with what some folks are saying on here about his health. If you are in the trainers office more than you are on the field then it is time for the team to move on from the player. I really hope he stays healthy this year!!! I like the kid, but I am kinda getting tired of seeing him on the injury list.

  • jimfromkcj

    What is really sad about Moeaki is that because of the way he was drafted I have always been a non fan of his. And he is not a bad player when healthy. But remember, we gave 2 picks for him and him with a history of not being able to play a full season at the college level. but even more egregious for me is the fact that we could have had my favorite, Hernandez without giving up an extra pick. Jimmie Graham was also available and went to the Saints later. Looking back at that 2010 draft in retrospect for me is a disaster, when I think what might have been.

  • jimfromkcj

    As time goes by with Fisher not signed, the more look at the roster and wonder where the money to sign Fisher is going to come from. The Chiefs are up against the cap with their #1 draft pick not signed yet. Some one with a very good contract is going to have to go. Will it be Moeaki? Would you rather it be T-Jack or Hali? it has to be someone with a hefty contract. Take your pick.