Pioli has some burning issues to resolve


Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Scott Pioli's first order of business when it comes to his new roster in Kansas City will be on the offensive side of the ball.

Two major issues need to be cleared on offense and Pioli, whether he keeps head coach Herm Edwards or not, needs to tackle them. Pioli needs to clear up the Tony Gonzalez situation and he needs to figure out if Tyler Thigpen will be the team's quarterback in 2009 or if a franchise quarterback will be pursued.

Gonzalez could ask to be traded and he did in October. He said last month that he'd want to return to the Chiefs if they were committed to winning in 2009. The Pioli hiring has to impress Gonzalez.

Pioli needs Gonzalez. He is coming off one of his best NFL seasons. At 32, Gonzalez can still play. Pioli needs to convince him the Chiefs can win soon.

The Thigpen situation will be interesting. Because he is a no-huddle, spread offense player, Thigpen's style is an acquired taste. Pioli may not want to continue with Thigpen and may want to start the future now.

The Chiefs have the No. 3 pick in the draft so the team could go get a franchise quarterback such as Sam Bradford or Matthew Stafford. It would make sense if Pioli's first move in Kansas City was to try to answer the quarterback issue. His former colleague in New England, Thomas Dimitroff, did just that in his first year in Atlanta last year when he drafted Matt Ryan with the No. 3 pick. That move worked out fairly well, didn't it?

There isn't much deliberation time needed on the Kansas City defense. The questions on defense are simple. It needs a whole lot of help, particularly on the defensive front seven. The Chiefs' concentration in free agency and the draft will likely be on improving the defense.

Pioli has a lot on his personnel plate, but it starts with the Gonzalez and Thigpen questions.