The Kansas City Chiefs are officially reporting to training camp this week. The long and incredibly brutal stretch between the NFL Draft and the start of camp is finally over. While Chiefs related news has been (at best) a slow trickle of information in the past few months it is now going to become a flood of reports. It becomes almost overwhelming to sort through it all. So this week I thought I’d put together a training camp wish list of the most important things the Chiefs need to have happen in order for the 2014 season to be a success. Hopefully, this will help you have an idea of what to pay attention for as you sift through all the information coming out of St. Joe.
So without further ado, here is my list of ten things that I’m hoping happen during the 2014 Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp.
10. Alex Smith Gets A New Contract
While this one is not directly related to the teams’ on-field play, it will make for a major distraction until it gets done. I don’t want to hear about Alex Smith’s contract anymore. I don’t want him thinking about it anymore. I don’t want every interview I watch or read with Smith, Andy Reid, or John Dorsey to start with questions about it anymore. I want it done.
Many KC fans are scared about giving Smith a huge contract. Just keep in mind that the big numbers you hear are never what the team is actually committing to. Let’s say Smith signs a 7 year/126 million dollar contract. People will FREAK OUT like the sky is falling. However, if the guaranteed money is such that it is all paid off in 2-3 years, then that is what you should look at. That seven year deal that averages 18 million dollars may really be a three year deal that averages 14 million in disguise.
9. Justin Houston Gets A New Contract
While Alex Smith’s contract has been the much larger national story, the Justin Houston situation may be the one that more KC fans should be worrying about. While Smith has continually said that he wants to be here and that his agent is working things out, Houston has been silent. It was Houston, not Smith, that was a no-show at mini-camp because of his contract situation. While it is widely believed that Houston will eventually show to ensure that this season counts towards his years until free agency the last KC player that had a similar contract situation with this front office was Branden Albert and KC eventually let him walk.
Justin Houston is arguably KC’s #2 most talented player after running back Jamaal Charles. His presence is essential to KC’s success and anyone that doesn’t believe so should look at what happened to KC’s pass rush (and win/loss record) after Houston was injured last season. He should be one of the foundational players that KC builds around going forward. The sooner that KC gets a long term deal with Justin Houston done, the better. Plus, the Chiefs need to figure out how to take advantage of using all three of their top pass rushers (Houston, Tamba Hali, and Dee Ford) and they can only do that when they have all three there to work with.
8. Either Zach Fulton Or Rishaw Johnson Lock Up The Starting Right Guard Spot
Just last week I wrote about how I believe that Zach Fulton will emerge as the starting right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs. I still believe that. However, I don’t really care if Fulton wins the spot as long as SOMEONE clearly wins it. Just a few days ago in his piece on offensive line questions, our fearless leader Ben Nielsen made the point that someone is going to win the starting guard spot regardless, but the Chiefs need someone to step up and EARN it.
While veteran Jeff Linkenbach is an option, there’s not much upside there. He would basically be a place holder until a long term solution could be found. That is why it would be best if the player that earned the starting RG spot was either the rookie Fulton or second year player Rishaw Johnson. While neither was a highly touted prospect, they both have the physical size to play the position and there would at least be the hope that they could develop into something more.
Hit “Next” for the rest of the list……