Chiefs Kingdom & The Falling Sky


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For starters, I’m no Chicken Little.

The reactionary title is a response to the dark cloud currently hovering above the Kansas City Chiefs’ fan base. I think a large swath of Chiefs fans are disappointed with the first seven days of the new league year. Last week was a rough one for the Kingdom. Free agency began last Tuesday and all was quiet at One Arrowhead Drive. News poured in from all around the NFL about players defecting. There were almost immediate announcements of monster contract signings, but the football team nestled in America’s heartland seemed to be unaware that such an important part of the NFL offseason was underway.

In the first 90 minutes of free agency, Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz, Dexter McCluster, Jon Asamoah, and Tyson Jackson all bid the City of Fountains adieu. I’m sure that was hardly the way most fans envisioned the official start to the Chiefs’ offseason campaign. The backlash was swift and nearly instantaneous. This couldn’t be the way to follow up an 11-5 season that ended in an epic postseason collapse, could it? What on earth was the front office thinking? How could allowing three starters to hit the open market be the answer?

Players were promptly exiting stage left. If that weren’t enough, there were no new players bound for Kansas City. The Twittersphere moaned, NFL analysts criticized, and fans questioned their allegiance to the franchise. Husain Abdullah and Frank Zombo re-signed with the team, but those transactions were mostly overlooked. They’re roleplayers after all. The tandem pales in comparison to the acquisitions made by the Denver Broncos (T.J. Ward, DeMarcus Ware, and Aqib Talib).

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Later came the signings of former Houston Texans ILB Joe Mays and Jeff Linkenbach (a versatile offensive lineman who most recently played for the Indianapolis Colts). Unfortunately, neither of those moves inspired much confidence either. The only available narrative was how these players weren’t going to help the Chiefs compete with Denver in the AFC West. The Broncos were winning the arms race in the division, in the conference, and perhaps in the NFL.

Just 72 hours in, hope was dwindling among the Chiefs’ constituency. Sure, there were glimmers of hope. Kansas City signed former Oakland Raider Vance Walker as a candidate to replace departed defensive end Tyson Jackson. He’s hardly a household name, but he is a player who’s been positively rated by Pro Football Focus in the recent past. He’s more adept at providing the pass rush the Chiefs so desperately need from the defensive line than Jackson was. Still, he wasn’t quite as comforting as some fans were hoping for.

The real excitement didn’t descend upon the Kingdom until Friday morning. The day prior, it was announced that free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was headed to town for a visit with the team. Fans finally had someone they could sink their teeth into. If you recall, Sanders was on the short list of players I thought could help improve Kansas City’s roster. Hope was momentarily restored to the Chiefs’ faithful. When negotiations stretched into the next day, it appeared the Chiefs were on the verge of signing Sanders. That was until, in a bizarre turn of events, one of the team’s most hated rivals swooped in and snatched him away (after Sanders had agreed in principle with the Chiefs). I’ll spare you a rant about the ethics of such a seedy transaction. Karma will repay the Denver Broncos, Emmanuel Sanders, and Steve Weinberg.

Suddenly, all faith in the front office had vanished. Optimism was vanquished with the loss of Emmanuel Sanders. He’s a quality football player, but not the kind of singular acquisition that would help get Kansas City over the hump. This loss was more symbolic. The situation served as a microcosm for being mired in mediocrity for the past two decades. The ne’er-do-well Chiefs had again left their adoring fans with little to believe in. At least, such is the case for some.

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That is unless you’re willing to suffer the administration the opportunity to build the team their own way. Far be it from me to tell anyone how to be a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. Fans can be loyal and critical of an organization. Those two things aren’t mutually exclusive. The Chiefs aren’t above reproach. Nor should they be. They’re beholden to a fan base that has mostly stuck by them despite a 20-year playoff drought.

Be that as it may, I think they’ve been consistent to their stated philosophies on how to build a winning culture. Free agency is a necessary part of the equation, but both Andy Reid and John Dorsey have said they’re looking to establish a contender through the NFL Draft. As discomforting as that might seem, Dorsey’s playing the long game. Kansas City’s core talent, acquired over the past two regimes, has almost exclusively come from the draft. That truth alone, should offer solace to fans who are disappointed with the way free agency’s unfolded to this point. Dorsey didn’t acquire those players, but he’s a long-time scout with a keen eye for evaluating NFL talent. That’s proof that it can happen in May.

Denver has had an impressive free agency haul, but that team is dealing with a very different set of circumstances. The Broncos had $28 million in available cap space. They also have a soon-to-be 38-year old quarterback. The window in the Mile High City is closing. John Elway’s looking to cash in before Peyton Manning retires. It makes perfect sense for them to go all in. Their handling of free agency says little about how Kansas City’s front office is executing its offseason plan. The Chiefs were never in position to have that kind of spending spree.

The good news is, there are a number of quality players still on the open market. Players like Chris Clemons, Lance Moore, Devin Hester, Jason Avant, Kenny Britt, and Rafael Bush are all still ripe for the picking. With each passing day, their contract expectations will fall. For all intents and purposes, the first wave of free agency is over. The likelihood of them being overpaid at this stage is slim. Bargain shopping in March isn’t sexy, but it’s largely how Dorsey’s already acquired some of the team’s best new talent.

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Chiefs brass needs time to work their plan. There are a few reasons to be optimistic about players like Joe Mays, Vance Walker, and Husain Abdullah. For my money, the three of them all provide significant upgrades at their respective positions. Additionally, none of their contracts will impose any real restrictions on the Chiefs’ cap situation moving forward. There’s currently room enough for the team to make a few more inexpensive signings to help bolster the roster. Barring any restructures or contract extensions, it’s reasonable to think Kansas City could still snare a pair of impact players for 2014 and get all of their draftees signed with the cap space they have available.

Whatever side of the fence you currently stand on, I would encourage you to be patient. The Dorsey-Reid administration is just two months removed from the end of its first full season. This may not be the best time to evaluate the direction of the organization or even of the offseason campaign. The lead up to training camp may provide a better vantage point for assessing what the Chiefs have done to prepare for year two.

What say you, Addicts? Have the Chiefs fallen so far behind their AFC West foes that they’re incapable of contending for the division next season? Are the Chiefs in the early stages of yet another rebuild? Have they squandered their first real chance at improving this roster or is there time still to redeem the offseason? Use the comment section below to weigh in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.

Until next time, Addicts!

Tags: Featured Kansas City Chiefs Popular

  • tm1946

    Had to lose players, no money. Need replacements, still no money. Denver went nuts, so what. Chiefs still have to play them 2 times a year, got to figure a way to beat Manning and crew.

    End of the world, no but you still have to put a team on the field and, as of now, the starters are already on the roster and not good enough to beat out the guys who walked away and were bums anyway, according to a lot of posters.

    Sky is falling, nope but it looks like it might rain.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I think Mays, Walker, and Abdullah might surprise you. Still plenty of time to work though.

      • tm1946

        I will buy that. By the by, are any of them Guards. Or TEs. Or WRs. Just saying this year the roster will have to step up.

        • Stacy D. Smith

          I think you’re going to see the wide receiver help come from the draft. The same may also be true of the other two spots. Though I don’t think tight end is a spot they absolutely have to improve.

  • Horace Lee Madre Jr

    I think we will be fine. Have faith

  • Lyle Graversen

    Great piece Reach, the cover photo was fantastic too!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Thanks, Lyle!

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Gotta love the little guy.

        • chiefdeorty

          We have lost some players that much is true. However we really don’t know that much about the other young players they had backing them up last year, i’m talking about the O-line. just maybe we will have a star in the making and us as fans don’t know that much about, hey we might of had some talent when R&D got here but we had a lot of holes. Now we are still better than we were the before they got here and we knew going into this off season we did not have any cap room. So what we lost other teams over paid for as far as I’m concerned. I think we can still be better than chargers & the faiders and that only leaves the donkey’s to shoot for and father time is knocking on mannings door as we speak.

  • Anthony Poole

    Another thing is from last year’s draft, we were counting on Kelce and Commings to contribute but injuries prevented that from happening. And we still finished the year in good shape without their help. This year, it’s gonna be like we’re getting two extra draft picks because these guys are going to be back and I think they’re both going to contribute greatly. With Kelce back will our TE corp be better than last year? Absolutely. What about our back field with Commings? Will it be better? I believe we can count on it. IMHO, I think you have to look at the moves that are made in FA and the draft and just ask one question: Will we be positionally better this year than last because of the FA signing or draft pick we made? If the answer is yes, then we should be optimistic about 2014. I for one am optimistic!

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Can’t really count on either of them to contribute in 2014. If they do, it’ll be a bonus. They’re still very much unproven at this point, but I think you’re right. Dorsey and Reid are going to count on some of their young guys to step up.

    • KCMikeG

      I enjoy watching the rookies develop. Catapano is one that Dorsey spoke about in strong support while avoiding questions about others. Josh Martin and Ridge Wilson got my attention in camp last year. I have high hopes for Kelce and Commings too. Could they all become starters or major contributors? Absolutely. Will they? We don’t know but to assume they won’t doesn’t make sense without some supporting evidence. This is just the second season for R&D, for both our offensive and defensive coaching staffs working new systems and only the second year for over 60% of the new players to develop chemistry. I too believe our team will get better and better.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Every player could potentially be a star, but until they prove it in live game situations, it’s just that — potential. This team needs to be prepared in case players like Catapano and Bailey need more time to adjust.

  • Ben Nielsen

    Good stuff, Reach.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Thanks, Cap’n!

  • Bizoza

    I have seen so many more posts and articles telling me the sky isn’t falling than I have seen anything stating that it is, that I am left wondering where this is coming from. Every site, every post is complaining about people saying this, but there is very very little stating that it is. Where is this coming from? Is it preemptive? Are there throngs of unwashed masses roaming the streets lamenting over this supposed falling sky? The vast majority says we will be okay, that the sky will remain up for a long time to come.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I think it depends on the watercoolers you frequent. The forums I belong to were having epic freakouts last week. The same was true of my news feeds on both Facebook and Twitter.

    • Josh Landers

      I read a lot of comments with people freaking out, also. It was mostly because of losing Schwartz but other names were mentioned and people were upset that we were sitting on our hands in fa. Not everyone realizes that fa is meant to supplement the draft, not vice versa. Look at last years lakers team. When you run a business, you want to be the first to train your employees so they will know how to do things your way. It can cause problems when you get a bunch of people together who have all been trained someone else’s way and are all expected to change. While they will try to adjust, they have already been molded. To me, that’s why drafting your own guys is so important. GO CHIEFS!!!

      • Stacy D. Smith

        The loss of Schwartz hurt. The other players, no so much.

    • KCMikeG

      Knee jerk, emotional reactions based a fraction of knowledge of the plan.

  • Hawthorne

    With these signings, we only have one starting spot that needs to be filled at RG. Every other position on the team, while important, basically just needs depth. We could easily grab 2 WR 2Olinemen and 2 DBs, the draft is deep in those 3 areas.

  • ILChiefan

    Stace, love the fact that you are not a ‘shock-blogger’ (did I just invent a new term??). Tell it like it is. I think Dorsey has earned some patience on our part.

  • jimfromkcj

    Stacy, I don’t think that there was a chance for the Chiefs to contend for a division crown any time soon. And whatever they could do would not matter. The Bowe contract killed them and I think they are even more vulnerable now than they were last year. There are just too many ifs on this team. If Fisher can hold down the LT position. If Allen and Hudson can improve, If we can find somebody to plug in at RG. If someone steps up to beat out Lewis. If we have another year where the injury bug doesn’t bite. And most of all is the Broncos going to be as good as they look on paper with Clady and Miller back. So if you want to build your hopes up on Dorsey and Reid making silk out of a sow”s ear. Good Luck.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      I don’t know that it won’t work anymore than I know that it will. I’m simply willing to reserve judgment and allow them to work. No one thought this team would have a chance at winning the division outright last year. Yet late in the year, that’s exactly where they were.

    • Daniel Mayfield

      To much negativity! Nobody knows what will happen. Rather it will be better or worse then last season. But did u think about how it might be in the long run?? Maybe not the SB, but can u see the future?? NO! So keep your chin up! Yeah, can’t be happy about losing some players but couldn’t afford them and blame most of that on Pioli. That and the way to high contract the punter got.

      My point is…you r having way to many doubts! Don’t even know who all is gonna be on the roster yet. Have faith, be a Real Fan.

    • KCMikeG

      Broncos, broncos, broncos. Is that all you have to say? Seriously every time you post it is to run down the Chiefs and gush about the donkeys. Sounds like you are just giving up before the season starts. “And whatever they could do would not matter” Really? Are you freaking serious? Why even bother to field a team? Maybe you would be happy if we just bank rolled the entire payroll and traded away all our draft picks and cut/fire everyone so we can start all over next year and try to be more like the donkeys Blech! Puke! In case you have forgotten we did compete with your beloved donkeys last year in our first year under the new administration, coaching, systems and over 60% of our players being new to the team. Even though they had the a one year head start with the greatest QB/offense of all time while we suffered the injury bug at TE, both Hali & Houston, Albert, Flowers and Charles/Davis in the playoffs. Good luck enjoying dashing your hopes on everything Chiefs.

      • jimfromkcj

        Mike, I admit I do appreciate a well run organization. If you look at all the turmoil that the Broncos have gone through with an unbiased attitude you will see that what they have accomplished is really something. What stands out to me is that there is an attitude there towards winning at at the highest level that I miss seeing in the chiefs. The ownership seems to me to have the attitude that winning a super bowl is the ultimate goal and nothing less will do. Here it seems that just getting into the playoffs and keeping the seats filled is the premier goal. Maybe I am wrong, but history seems to back me up. Ask yourself why it took a fan revolt and planes flying over Arrowhead with banners to get Clark to act and get rid of Pioli and company. Was there any doubt in your mind that Cassel was never going to be a franchise QB? Do you think that management should get themselves in the position of being up against the cap with a QB only making 7 and a half million while Denver had a franchise QB making 26 mill a year and still had 27 mill in cap money? They also had better receivers,the best rush lb in the league an off line that was rated #5 last year without the services of Clady who is listed on some sites as the 3rd to 5th best LT in the league while our off line was rated about in the late teens. Think about it, Does a Chiefs fan have to be Blind, deaf and dumb to be a true fan?

  • freshmeat62

    I don’t think I’ve lost 1 second of sleep over the Chiefs defections. I
    have a lot more faith in Dorsey/Reid knowing what they need, and how to
    handle FAgncy, than a bunch of Chicken Little internet bloggers. So
    far what I’ve been able to tell, a bunch of other teams are blowing
    their caps on mediocre, at best, players.

  • Daniel Mayfield

    Stacy, you’re right. Dorsey and Reid didn’t panic like the fans r when they lost the key players…doesn’t look like they did anyways.
    IMO, they get the best RG they can…either from FA or draft, whoever they think is better. And try to get maybe 1 or 2 yr contract with Hester with the least amount they can get out of him to try to replace Dexter for returning kicks and punts.
    Maybe a WR and DBs out of the draft. We know, or should know, that Reid can train. Plus they already have some high rated, IMO, DBs….Smith, Flowers, Abdullah, Berry.
    My 1st and 2nd move in the draft, if no high rated player pops up in FA, would be an OL player or WR. But that’s me!!

    Come on fans!! Be strong and patient!!

  • Nemoi

    I too think we will be okay. It’s just that ringing in my ears that scares me… in Pioli we trust.

  • Danny W

    Nice read. Good decision to stand pat on holding off judgement. I would have liked one big name for sure and I definitely wanted them to retain Schwartz. Kenny Britt used to have all the potential in the world and still may have some. I wouldn’t mind seeing if Andy Reid could make a good man and receiver out of him. Some how I seriously doubt we do anything else though.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      If not the free agency fiasco, we might’ve landed a big fish. There’s also a good chance that Sanders never intended to play for Kansas City. That’s up in the air now. As it stands, they can have him. Wouldn’t want a player like that in this locker room.

  • berttheclock

    Great comment that “fans can be loyal and critcal”. How true. I adhere to the original comment concerning loyalty to our government. It applies to sporting teams as well. It is “My team right or wrong; if right, keep it right; if wrong, make it right”. Legitimate criticism is very much part and parcel of that “make it right”. However, when, fans veer into such nonsense that Dorsey should have been fired because of the Bowe contract extension or the one that said Elway had outworked Dorsey, when, it has become very obvious, Dorsey was worked by a slime ball con man, then, those comments go beyond legitimate criticism and border on pure unadulterated horse manure.

    Better days ahead for the great Chiefs Nation.

    • KCMikeG

      I couldn’t agree more Bert! Calling Dorsey & Reid “clowns” after the success their achieved in their first year is foolish. I’m not wild about Bowe’s performance with the new big $$$ LTC but I also realize he did get better as the year went on, that he owned that he wasn’t in shape like he should have been and that he could very well have a great year in 2014. I get down on bad choices and frustrated with players too but the ridiculous attitudes displayed attacking and name calling of what we love so much are just not part of being a fan to me. Where is the pleasure in being a fan if you are always tearing down the team? Constructive criticism and proposing viable options create the environment for respectful exchanges of perspective here on AA.

  • http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/community/profile/index.jsp?ipid=14872822'defer='defer upperturion

    Nice piece, well articulated.

  • loanplus1

    Stacy I loved your article it really make me think about my post to a another article from SIs Chiefs blogs where I said we could be looking at all the great talent we have now that we could lose with (down the line couple of years) with FA, injury, or window of “great” and how long we could wait until we have a good team with just the draft. But I do like that Denver could be just about now and done this year and we should be patient it could be our year in 2015!

  • Brent G

    Great piece Stacy…although I still maintain that there are just too many holes to not fill some of them before the draft. I know the Broncos window is closing fast, but ours is not significantly farther behind, especially on defense. I like the idea of building thru the draft but I also like the idea of winning a Super Bowl or two. Given the age of some of our best players, I think we needed to make some upgrades at some key positions and its a lot harder to hit on several positions thru the draft than it is to get a few thru FA and a few more thru the draft. Just my 2 cents…I may be wrong, my wife assures me I am on a regular basis:)

  • Craig

    Re: Emmanuel Sanders and the question of ‘ethics.’ Check out this article for a different perspective. Seems like a huge misunderstanding. And just shows how quickly and chaotically things can move http://limelight-strategies.com/emmanuel-sanders-contract-negotiations-the-agencys-perspective/

  • NicholasAlanClayton

    “As discomforting as that might seem, Dorsey’s playing the long game. Kansas City’s core talent, acquired over the past two regimes, has almost exclusively come from the draft. That truth alone, should offer solace to fans who are disappointed with the way free agency’s unfolded to this point.”

    Couldn’t put it better myself. Great read.

  • NicholasAlanClayton

    I just took a peek over at http://justblogbaby.com/ and if Raiders fans aren’t freaking out despite their bizarrely awful offseason thus far, then we aren’t allowed to be.

  • A1 Yola

    The Chiefs will not make the playoffs next year. The Oline took a big step backwards, it wasn’t that good to begin with. DMC versatility will be missed mightly