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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Double Coverage: Jackson and Asamoah

By Adam Teicher and Vaughn McClure

Jon Asamoah
Ex-Kansas City linemen Tyson Jackson and Jon Asamoah should give Atlanta toughness in the trenches.
The Atlanta Falcons raided the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs in the opening moments of the free-agent signing period, adding defensive end Tyson Jackson and guard Jon Asamoah. Jackson was the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick in 2009 and the third choice overall. Asamoah was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2010 draft.

ESPN NFL Nation reporters Adam Teicher (Chiefs) and Vaughn McClure (Falcons) discuss the signings.

Teicher: Vaughn, tell us how Jackson and Asamoah fit into the Falcons’ plans and why they liked those players more than some other available players at their positions.

McClure: In my opinion, they’re both great fits for a team that lacked some toughness up front on both sides of the ball. The offensive line getting pushed around last season led to Matt Ryan being the league’s most-pressured quarterback and the running game being the league’s worst. Asamoah will step in immediately at right guard, where the Falcons tried three players last season but had little success. In terms of Jackson, he has 3-4 experience, and the Falcons are set to move more toward a 3-4 base defense. And if Jackson is as good a run-stuffer as Asamoah touted him to be, the Falcons should be in business.

From the Chiefs’ perspective, what were the pros and cons to keeping or parting ways with  both Jackson and Asamoah?

Teicher: The Chiefs would have liked to have retained Jackson but not at the price the Falcons got him for (five years, $25 million). He developed into a solid run defender the past couple of seasons but was still just a part-time player who came out of the game on passing downs. Still, the Chiefs may have to go out and find his replacement in free agency or the draft. They also thought Asamoah was too pricey for them at more than $4 million per year. The Chiefs last year had some good depth on the offensive line. They drafted five linemen in the top three rounds over the previous four drafts. Asamoah was one of them and the other four will start for them next year. They didn’t re-sign any of their three free-agent offensive linemen and never came close to reaching a deal with any of them. The Chiefs have some developmental prospects they may try to plug into the starting right guard spot that is now vacant or they could find a guard in free agency or the draft.

These signings have Scott Pioli’s fingerprints on them. He was the Chiefs’ general manager when they drafted Jackson and Asamoah and is now Atlanta’s assistant GM. How much say do you think he has on personnel matters for the Falcons?

McClure: I think it will be a team effort, Adam, with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, director of player personnel Lionel Vital, and Pioli leading the way. Of course, Pioli obviously had some input in these signings. He had a familiarity with both Asamoah and Jackson and could speak on their behalf. But Pioli learned some lessons from his experience in Kansas City, particularly how to be more open-minded. So, like Dimitroff said, Pioli will be another voice at the table. I’m curious now to see how they all put their minds together and decide what to do in the draft. They need both an offensive tackle and edge pass-rusher.

Adam, since we’re talking, I have to ask you this question. My sources told me that the Seattle Seahawks indeed talked about trading for Tony Gonzalez. And there were reports that Kansas City felt the same way. What exactly happened there? And Gonzalez is a free agent now, you know?

Teicher: Bringing Gonzalez back to Kansas City for the last half of last season would have made sense on a number of levels. They had some injuries at tight end and needed a pass-receiver at that spot. The fans would have loved it. But the Chiefs never seemed serious about it. It was fun for everyone to talk about, but it was never close to becoming a reality. That would be something if the Chiefs signed Gonzalez now as a free agent, but their chance to get something done with him was last year.