- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The image of a purple-clad Jared Allen celebrating over fallen quarterbacks can’t be fun for Kansas City Chiefs fans. (NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert took a look at the Allen deal from the Vikings' perspective.)
They were used to seeing the mulleted one celebrating sacks as a Chief. Since Allen was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in 2008, the Chiefs have been listless on defense.
But two seasons into the blockbuster trade, it is not necessarily fair to say Kansas City was a loser in the trade.
Kansas City sent Allen and a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 for the No. 17 overall pick, two third-round picks and a sixth-round pick. Kansas City turned the picks into tackle Branden Albert, running back Jamaal Charles, safety DaJuan Morgan and sixth-round pick Kevin Robinson. The Vikings turned the Chiefs’ sixth-round pick into center John Sullivan.
“Kansas City really can’t worry about what Allen is doing in Minnesota and that Sullivan is a starter,” Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said. “The Chiefs knew Allen was going to be good in Minnesota. But they didn’t want to pay him so they got very good value. That’s why the trade was good. It was a good trade because the value was good. Let’s see what Kansas City is going to do with it. It still can be a very good trade for the Chiefs.”
The following is a look at the key aspects of the trade two seasons later:
Jamaal Charles: Charles is the key player in the deal from the Chiefs’ perspective. If he can build upon his fantastic finish in 2009, this trade will be great for Kansas City.
Charles was taken with the first of the two third-rounders the Chiefs got from Minnesota. The speedster ran for 1,120 yards after taking over as the starter in November, including 259 yards in the season finale against Denver. He averaged a whopping 5.9 yards per carry for the season and represents hope for Kansas City’s offense.
“I still think Kansas City needs to pick up a 230-pound back to run the ball 10 times to keep Charles fresh, but he looks like the real deal,” Williamson said. “He can be special. If Charles can get better and become a legit 1,500-yard back, then the Chiefs will really have something. It looks promising.”
Branden Albert: Albert was expected to be the centerpiece of this trade because he was the No. 15 overall pick (the Chiefs swapped the No. 17 pick to Detroit), but he has been slow to get his career going.
Albert, who has dealt with injuries, has been inconsistent at left tackle. Many league observers believe Albert will excel at either right tackle or left guard. The Chiefs might select a left tackle with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 draft and then move Albert to right tackle. Or, when Brian Waters (who turns 33 on Feb. 18) retires, Albert could move to left guard -- the position he played in college. Williamson thinks Albert could be a near-Pro Bowl-caliber guard.
If Kansas City does find a new left tackle and Albert plays right tackle in 2010, he should improve and be a solid contributor.
The Chiefs do miss Allen: There is no doubt Kansas City misses the talented Allen, but it was clear they would. He is a special pass-rusher.
Allen had 14.5 sacks in each of his seasons in Minnesota. He had 43 sacks in his four seasons in Kansas City, and the Chiefs have had little pass-rush presence since Allen was traded. In 2008, in fact, Kansas City set a record for the fewest sacks in a season with 10.
“The Chiefs don’t have a pass rush without Allen,” said Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. “They lost a lot by giving him up. Special, game-changing pass-rushers, which he is, are difficult to lose. They miss him, there’s no doubt.”
He wouldn’t fit Kansas City’s defense right now: Ironically, Allen wouldn’t be a great fit for the current Chiefs scheme. He was traded before the final season of the Carl Peterson-Herm Edwards era.
Last year, when Scott Pioli took over as general manager and hired Todd Haley as coach, Kansas City moved from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme. Allen wouldn’t have had an obvious position in the 3-4, a problem the Chiefs also encountered with defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey and linebacker Derrick Johnson.
“He’d be a total waste in Kansas City’s new scheme,” Williamson said. “He is not a 3-4 guy. He’s a classic 4-3 guy. So, it’s funny; Allen wouldn’t be right for the Chiefs. Maybe they would have stuck to a 4-3 if he stayed.”
Conclusion: By no means does this trade seem like a disaster for Kansas City. Yes, Minnesota is tickled with the deal and it should be. Allen is a great player.
But if Charles and Albert become solid fixtures in the offense, the deal will be good for Kansas City. It’d be nice if Morgan (whom the previous Kansas City regime loved as a rookie) bounces back from a poor second season and becomes a solid contributor, the trade will even be better. Robinson was cut as a rookie.
“On paper, it was a good trade then for Kansas City and it still can be very good,” Horton said. “Allen was going to be a good player on a bad team. The Chiefs needed to get younger. They seem to be on the right track with this trade.”