AFC West Fight – KC Chiefs On The Rise?
By MC Boltman
Nov 1, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs inside linebacker Jovan Belcher (59) on the ground after trying to tackle San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (not shown) during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Once in a while it may be interesting to check out what your (division) rivals are doing. We already recapped the Denver Broncos‘ offseason moves and we also discussed the new quarterback situation in Oakland.
Now it´s time take a look at what the Kansas City Chiefs were able to do in the last few months to upgrade their roster.
Without a doubt, their No. 1 priority for this offseason was to address their field general position. And they did that already days before the new league year opened; the team worked out a deal with the San Francisco 49ers which made Alex Smith a Kansas City Chief. The Chiefs gave up a second round draft pick (34th overall) this year and a conditional third round pick in 2014.
Well the question is, what kind of impact will the former Niners´ signal-caller have in Kansas City?
With Alex Smith, not exactly a quarterback threat is entering the AFC West in my opinion. Although he was picked No. 1 overall in 2005 by the 49ers (over Aaron Rodgers(!) who was picked 24th overall), Smith had an awful start in San Francisco: one touchdown, 11 interceptions, and a passer rating of 40.8 over nine games – definitely no stats to be proud of. He did a better job in his second year but I guess it´s safe to say that, overall, he was a bust in his first five years in the National Football League. But then the Jim Harbaugh era found its way into Bay Area and started to make an impact in the NFL. And it showed that with great coaching, i.e. with a coach that accentuates what he does best, Smith can be a reliable force on the offense.
To sum it up: He started his tenure in San Francisco as a bust, but he leaves the team as a well-respected and solid passer – I guess it´s just accurate to call a record of 19-5-1 over the last two years “solid”.
Smith´s name is often used with the term “game manager” in one sentence. This means he isn´t considered to be the kind of big-play gunslinger-type of quarterback who´s going for the deep pass on a regularly basis; he doesn´t even have the arm strength to do that. He´s more of a methodical and calculating passer, trying to avoid turnovers and putting the ball to the right guy at the right time. In other words, he´s a guy who “does the little things very well.”
So don´t expect big plays from a KC quarterback next season (81 touchdowns in 80 games, never thrown more than 18 touchdowns per season; nothing “big” about that). Therefore I guess the Chiefs don´t consider Alex Smith to be their next franchise quarterback. But they did not address the position in this year´s draft, so they obviously see more in Smith than just a solid option for the next two years (he´ll be an UFA in 2015 though).
The Kansas City Chiefs also did a lot of business in the hours before the franchise tag deadline.
In March, the team and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe agreed on a five-year, $56 million deal with $26 million in guarantees. In the first three years of the new contract he will earn a staggering $36 million! This deal also made it possible to save up the franchise tag for another former first-rounder: left tackle Branden Albert – which means they are keeping him around for (at least) another year, at $9.828 million. As if that wasn´t enough, the Chiefs´ front office made Dustin Colquitt the highest-paid punter in NFL history, signing the veteran to a five-year contract worth $18.75 million, including $8.9 million in guaranteed money…Wow! With those moves, the Chiefs did exactly the opposite of what the Chargers have done in recent years: maintaining talent on the roster.
Besides adding some more free agents, like the cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson or wide receiver Donnie Avery, they also let some player personnel hit the streets. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey signed with the 49ers and the team cut their starting quarterbacks from last year Matt Cassel (now in Minnesota) and Brady Quinn (signed with the Seahawks). Another interesting move was the release of right tackle Eric Winston; who is still available in free agency.
Winston has been linked to the Chargers a couple of times this offseason; and with those unpleasant news (or rumors) that first round pick D.J. Fluker might not be able to play on the right end of the offensive line and maybe has to be moved inside, this talk could become reality again. But whatever, the release made sense, as it freed up $3.5 million in cap space and they owned the first overall pick in the draft, which they used on offensive tackle Eric Fisher.
Well, talking about their draft picks…aside from Eric Fisher there wasn´t a pick that got me impressed too much except for inside linebacker Nico Johnson. They grabbed him in the fourth round and was a solid value pick in my opinion. Johnson may struggle in pass defense but he is a good run-stuffing linebacker. He won´t be a future Pro-Bowler but with his good size and athleticism he should be able to compete for the starting job next to Derrick Johnson.
So, BoltFam, what do you expect from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013? What will their offense be able to do next season with Alex Smith as their field general? Were those flurry moves right before the franchise tag deadline good decisions, or did they overpay Bowe, Colquitt and Albert? And finally the most important question: Will the Chargers be able to win more games than the Chiefs and thus maybe enter the playoffs? Just place your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you for checking out this piece.