AFC West: Tyson Jackson
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.
There is no way to paint this as good news. Here is what I wrote early Tuesday morning, as it appeared the Chiefs would lose those players. It still applies now.
Let's take these cases one by one. First, Albert signed a five-year contract worth about $9 million per season. A good investment for Miami, which had a horrible offensive line last season even before the mess involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
But for the Chiefs? Not so much. It would have been a disaster. Remember that the Chiefs have only $9 million or so in remaining salary-cap space. He was way too rich for a team not only with limited funds, but with two tackles in Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson who are ready to start for them next season. You could argue that neither player was as good last season as Albert, and that's true. The expectation is that Fisher will eventually be that good or better. Remember that Albert wasn't very good as a rookie, either.
For the Chiefs, Jackson was and probably would have continued to be a part-time player. He came out of the game on passing downs, so he was basically a run defender last season. He quietly did a nice job of that. But the Falcons gave him $25 million over five years. A part-time player has to be a standout to earn $5 million per season, and Jackson wasn't that.
McCluster was given $12 million over three years, something the Chiefs could have afforded. But for what? McCluster did a nice job as a punt returner last season, and the Chiefs might have difficulty replacing that ability. But on offense, McCluster had little impact in his four seasons with Kansas City. He had 172 catches and 662 rushing yards, but name three big offensive plays he made for the Chiefs. Can't do it, can you?
Losing both Asamoah and Schwartz was the most puzzling. The Chiefs should have made a bigger push to sign one of them. They have a hole in their starting lineup now at right guard that could be difficult to fill. But the Falcons and Giants both needed help on their offensive lines, perhaps more than the Chiefs do.
A tough day for the Chiefs, as we suspected it would be. But the fact is that other teams had more money to spend than the Chiefs and needed those players as much or more than Kansas City did.
The Chiefs have attempted to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, and that could still happen. But the Chiefs didn't appear confident in that happening. They had arranged a free-agent meeting with defensive end Red Bryant before he signed last week with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Free safety Kendrick Lewis has been a longtime starter and is also a potential unrestricted free agent. But the Chiefs may be ready to move on from him.
The Chiefs have some money to spend in free agency and draft picks to use on potential replacements. In some cases they've already prepared for the eventuality of losing some of these free agents. They drafted tackle Eric Fisher in the first round last year knowing this day with Albert would probably come this year. They signed Weston Dressler of the Canadian Football League hoping he could be the next McCluster. Last year they drafted linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive back Sanders Commings, and they are possible replacements for Jordan and Lewis.
That doesn't mean this isn't an meaningful day for the Chiefs. With the exception of Jordan and Schwartz, who were signed to one-year, free-agent contracts last year, these players didn't join the Chiefs as stopgap players but as those they could build around. Albert and Jackson are former first-round draft picks. McCluster was drafted in the second round, Asamoah in the third, Lewis in the fifth.
More importantly, many should be heading into their prime seasons. Albert will turn 30 in November but plays a position where he could retain his skills for the life of the new contract he will sign. Jackson is 27; McCluster, Asamoah and Lewis are 25.
If they're all out the door at a single time, that's a hefty blow to the Chiefs. They made plenty of progress in the past year, going from two wins in 2012 to 11 victories and the playoffs in 2013. Continuing on that track will be difficult enough but perhaps impossible if they lose this entire group of players.
If the Chiefs fall back to the pack in 2014, they may look back on this day as a big reason why.
1. Branden Albert, Chiefs offensive tackle: Kansas City won’t franchise him this year. Albert will get a nice contract elsewhere.
2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Broncos cornerback: He’s not yet 30 and still a top-tier athlete.
3. Eric Decker, Broncos wide receiver: Productive in scoring zone, will be one of the biggest wide receivers on open market, but rarely faced opponents’ top cornerback in Broncos offense.
4. Lamarr Houston, Raiders defensive end: Better suited to the left side because he’s not the prototypical speed-rusher.
6. Jared Veldheer, Raiders offensive tackle: Didn’t have a very good season in 2013 but would attract some attention as a free agent.
7. Geoff Schwartz, Chiefs guard: Was a free-agent find for Kansas City last season. Can play right tackle if needed.
8. Jon Asamoah, Chiefs guard: A better pass-protector than run-blocker. He will be only 26 in July.
9. Shaun Phillips, Broncos linebacker: He’ll be 33 in May but showed last season that he can still be an effective situational pass-rusher.
10. Zane Beadles, Broncos guard: For a movement-based front, he’s a smart, durable option who played in every game while with Denver.
12. Robert Ayers, Broncos defensive end: Had his best season in 2013, so maybe he’s a late bloomer.
13. Tyson Jackson, Chiefs defensive end: Like Ayers, he had his best season in 2013, so maybe he’s figuring it out as well.
14. Tracy Porter, Raiders cornerback: He’s versatile enough to cover the slot receiver, and he had one of his better seasons in 2013.
15. Kendrick Lewis, Chiefs safety: He’s only 25 but was a better player earlier in his career. He hasn’t been the same since a shoulder injury in 2012.
Key free agents: T Branden Albert, G Jon Asamoah, DE Tyson Jackson, LB Akeem Jordan, FS Kendrick Lewis, WR/PR Dexter McCluster, G Geoff Schwartz
Where they stand: The Chiefs need help at wide receiver but may prefer to do their shopping at this position through the draft after having made a sizable financial commitment to Dwayne Bowe last year. The Chiefs have the depth at tackle to withstand the likely loss of Albert, but they'll need to do some shopping if Asamoah and Schwartz, who split time as the starter at right guard last season, depart. On defense, the Chiefs could use another big body for their defensive line, particularly if Jackson leaves as a free agent. A replacement who can be an upgrade over Lewis is another priority. Sanders Commings, a rookie last season, could potentially fill that spot. Whether the Chiefs actively pursue a veteran there could depend on how they feel about Commings' ability to handle the position.
What to expect: The Chiefs should have about $9.6 million in salary-cap space, which is one of the lowest totals in the league and probably won't allow them to win many bidding wars. Even if the Chiefs had the cap room and were so inclined, this isn't a great crop of free-agent wide receivers. Seattle's Golden Tate might make sense for the Chiefs, but only if the price doesn't get out of hand. The Chiefs could look to division rival Denver for guard Zane Beadles if they need a starter to replace Asamoah and Schwartz. Seattle's Red Bryant could be a fit at defensive end if the Chiefs don't re-sign Jackson. Buffalo's Jairus Byrd is exactly what Kansas City is looking for at free safety, but he will likely be out of its price range. If the Chiefs go safety shopping, they might go for a lower-priced option, like Miami's Chris Clemons.
On defense, the grades for defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey, linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and safety Eric Berry were all significantly up from 2012.
A few players had their grades drop. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert were among them, but neither player had a huge drop.
One player did have a huge drop; cornerback Brandon Flowers. He will participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii, more of an honor for what he did in previous seasons than how he played in 2013.
Flowers had some dismal games in 2013, none worse than the torching he received against Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys early in the season, and then by the San Diego Chargers halfway through. In fairness to Flowers, he missed a couple of games early in the season because of a sore knee, and it might not have been right the rest of the way.
Still, it's a fact that Flowers didn't play very well, and it's to the point it's natural to wonder about his future with the Chiefs. He's a 5-foot-9, 187-pound player on a team that now prefers bigger cornerbacks. It's more than a little telling that the Chiefs used Flowers to cover the slot receiver in their nickel defense as the season went on.
Flowers has a big contract (he counts $10.5 million against the Chiefs' 2014 salary cap) and he might not be the best fit for a team that requires it's cornerbacks to play so much one-on-one coverage.
It might be a mistake for the Chiefs to give up on Flowers, who turns 28 next month. Flowers has played well in seasons past, and though he's a little guy, but doesn't usually play like one. He's not afraid to stick his nose into the running game.
But in a division with big receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Keenan Allen, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, it's a fair question: Is Flowers right for the Chiefs?
It will be interesting to see in the coming months what general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid think.
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 10
Preseason Power Ranking: 19
Biggest surprise: The Chiefs plucked rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, off waivers to start the regular season. Cooper played better than the Chiefs had a right to expect for a long stretch of the season as the third cornerback. He had a rough stretch late in the season before bouncing back at the end. At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Cooper has the size to match up with the league's bigger receivers. Cooper projects as nothing less than the Chiefs' third cornerback next season and could eventually become a starter.
Biggest disappointment: Offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the first overall pick in the draft last year but rarely played like it. The Chiefs used Fisher on the right side, and he initially had trouble making the transition. He also had trouble avoiding nagging injuries, which caused him to miss four games, including the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Fisher should eventually develop into the kind of player the Chiefs envisioned. He showed great athletic skills that will help him reach his potential. Fisher was usually unable to anchor against a strong pass rush and that's where many of his problems occurred. A year in Kansas City's strength program will benefit Fisher greatly.
Biggest need: The Chiefs need a fast wide receiver to energize their passing game. They gambled by giving Dwayne Bowe a lucrative long-term contract last offseason, but Bowe didn't play like a No. 1 wide receiver until the playoff loss to the Colts. Bowe will turn 30 next season, so if nothing else, it's time for the Chiefs to plan for someone else to step into that top receiver's role. The Chiefs have a couple of fast wide receivers in Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins. While Avery delivered some big plays, he dropped too many passes and disappeared too many times. Jenkins hasn't been able to establish himself as a consistent threat.
Team MVP: The Chiefs have at least a couple of defensive candidates but the better choice is running back Jamaal Charles. He supplied much of Kansas City's offensive production, particularly early in the season when the offense around him frequently sputtered. Charles led the league in touchdowns and expanded his game to become a much more dangerous pass-catcher. Coach Andy Reid and his offensive staff did a much better job of getting Charles matched up against linebackers in the open field, and he rewarded them with a number of big plays. If the Chiefs had not lost five of their final seven regular-season games, Charles would have been a strong candidate for league MVP.
Forsaking the field goal: Coach Andy Reid initially sent Ryan Succop on to the field for an untimed down after a Denver penalty at the end of the first half for what would have been a 64-yard field goal attempt. Then, after seeing the Broncos send returner Trindon Holliday out to return the kick, Reid changed his mind and had the Chiefs try one more offensive play that didn’t come close to the Denver end zone. "(Sixty-four yards) is a pretty good shot, even in the high altitude," Reid said.
Injury update: Two starters on the offensive and defensive lines were injured in the defeat. Right tackle Eric Fisher injured his shoulder, guard Jon Asamoah his calf, defensive end Mike DeVito sprained his knee and defensive end Tyson Jackson strained his abdomen. Fisher, DeVito and Jackson were scheduled for MRIs.
Either way, it's a long way to 2013. The Chiefs lead the league in sacks with 31 and they are on a pace to break the NFL record of 72 set by the Chicago Bears in 1984.
Maybe the most interesting thing about this pass rush is that all of the key components (linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and linemen Dontari Poe and Tyson Jackson) were in place before this season. Among the 31 sacks, all but 2.5 have been delivered by players who were with the Chiefs last season.
That speaks to the schemes brought to the Chiefs by new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
"I knew about those two (Hali and Houston)," said coach Andy Reid, who joined the Chiefs in January. "I knew they could rush the passer. Now, Dontari added into that? Somebody that can play as stout as he plays in a two-gap scheme inside and then be able to pass rush? That was another dimension I didn't expect. The push that (Tyson) Jackson gets, I didn't necessarily see that."
Houston and Hali are the engines that make the pass rush go. Houston is tied for the league lead with 9.5 and Hali is fourth with 7.5.
But even taking those two players out of the equation, the Chiefs have 14 sacks, more than many of the other NFL teams. Those sacks have been spread among eight different players. Seven different players were involved in Sunday's 10-sack game against the Oakland Raiders.
That says Sutton has a lot to choose from. Among his better options are linebacker Derrick Johnson and strong safety Eric Berry.
"I would tell you (Sutton) has a good menu to draw from," Reid said. "He had (Berry) in there. He's got a knack for that, like we had with (former Eagles safety Brian) Dawkins before. Eric Berry does the same type of thing. He's just got a nice feel for that. When you start adding in the secondary players, Akeem (Jordan) has a good feel, (Johnson) has a good feel. That's one of the better things that (Brandon) Flowers does."
Defensive line (7): Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito, Anthony Toribio, Jerrell Powe, Allen Bailey, Marcus Dixon. Depth behind starters Jackson, Poe and DeVito could be a problem. Toribio and Powe are big bodies, but inexperienced. Bailey comes in to help rush the quarterback on obvious passing downs.
Linebacker (8): Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Edgar Jones, Frank Zombo, Zac Diles, Nico Johnson. From top to bottom the strongest position on the Chiefs. Hali, Houston and Derrick Johnson are Pro Bowlers. The other starter, Jordan, as well as Jones, Zombo and Nico Johnson, played well in the preseason.
Defensive back (10): Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Jalil Brown, Sanders Commings, Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps, Husain Abdullah, Tysyn Hartman. Maybe the toughest position on the team to call. The situation is complicated by Commings’ broken collarbone. He was injured on the first day of training camp and hasn’t practiced since. In his absence, the Chiefs have been sorting through candidates to be a fourth cornerback behind Flowers, Smith and Robinson without much success. They even turned to Abdullah, a safety, as their nickel back in last week’s game in Pittsburgh. Kennard Cox had a nice game against the Steelers. I don’t have him making the team, but if he plays well against Green Bay in the final exhibition game, he could stick.
1. Corey Liuget, San Diego: This player has a chance to be a superstar.
2. Lamarr Houston, Oakland: A lot will be expected of this talented player on a line in transition.
3. Derek Wolfe, Denver: The Broncos are expecting huge things from this second-year player.
4. Kendall Reyes, San Diego: The same thing goes for Reyes in San Diego. He has great potential.
5. Terrance Knighton, Denver: Jack Del Rio is reunited with this run stuffer. Terrific free-agent addition.
6. Dontari Poe, Kansas City: I wouldn’t be shocked if this player makes a huge jump in Year 2.
7. Sylvester Williams, Denver: The first-round pick has huge potential. He is a good fit for this defense.
8. Tyson Jackson, Kansas City: Former No. 3 overall pick will never be great, but he has value.
9. Mike DeVito, Kansas City: The Chiefs are thrilled about his free-agent pickup. He can play.
10. Vance Walker, Oakland: Free-agent addition was a good rotational player in Atlanta. Gets chance for a bigger role.
11. Pat Sims, Oakland: This could be a very good addition if he can stay healthy.
12. Kevin Vickerson, Denver: Nothing fancy, but Vickerson is a solid part of a good defense.
13. Robert Ayers, Denver: The Broncos need this former first-round pick to contribute with Elvis Dumervil gone.
14. Cam Thomas, San Diego: The Chargers expect a lot from this promising player.
15. Christo Bilukidi, Oakland: I have a feeling he is going to develop quickly.
16. Andre Carter, Oakland: Greatest value may be as a leader, which this young team needs.
17. Jason Hunter, Oakland: Try-hard player could get a lot of playing time.
18. Jack Crawford, Oakland: Second-year player will have a chance to show his value.
The Bay Area News Group reported that Lucas Nix was working ahead of Tony Bergstrom at left guard Tuesday at the Raiders’ organized team activities (OTAs). Of course, it is early, and I’d expect both to compete through the summer at the spot previously occupied by Cooper Carlisle, who has since been released.
That said, it has to be a bit disappointing that Bergstrom, a third-round pick in 2012, is not taking the early lead. Nix was an undrafted free agent signing last year out of Pittsburgh.
The Raiders drafted Bergstrom as a fit for the zone-blocking scheme Oakland used on offense last season -- an unsuccessful approach the team has since scrapped in favor of a more traditional power-blocking scheme. In February, I asked McKenzie, who took over as general manager in 2012, if he was confident Bergstrom could be part of the future. He was firm in his belief that Bergstrom could indeed fit in the new scheme.
Bergstrom failed to make to a push for major playing time as a rookie. Now it appears he will have to fight Nix moving forward.
In another interesting Oakland OTA note, second-year player Christo Bilukidi and free-agent pickup Vance Walker were working with the first unit at defensive tackle. Bilukidi showed flashes as a rookie late in the season. Walker was a productive situational player in Atlanta.
As at many positions in Oakland, the Raiders want to see some players take the next step and grab a lead role at defensive tackle. While it is early, Bilukidi and Walker are getting the chance to show they deserve to start.
In other AFC West notes:
Peyton Manning is enjoying this offseason much more than last, when he was recovering from four neck surgeries and adjusting to life in Denver.
Former No. 3 overall pick Tyson Jackson is impressing the new Kansas City brass at defensive end.
Some bookkeeping reminders: Oakland gets $8 million in salary-cap relief for the Michael Huff cut and San Diego gets $4.5 million relief after cutting Jared Gaither on Saturday. Both teams will primarily use the money to sign draft picks.
Cap Status: The Broncos are in decent position to make some additions. They do have to account for $9.7 million for the franchise tag of left tackle Ryan Clady. Denver will also get more cap room if it cuts defensive end Elvis Dumervil. He is due $12 million this season and the team is trying to pare down his contract. Linebacker D.J. Williams also is expected to be cut.
Strategy: I expect the Broncos to be fairly busy in free agency. There has been some speculation Denver could be big players in free agency and get a high-profile player such as New England receiver Wes Welker. The team reportedly has interest in trading for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. But Denver has a lot of wants, so it may be reluctant to spend too much in one place. Denver may look to add at defensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback, safety, the offensive line, receiver and running back. So there is a chance we'll see a lot of midlevel-type players. Among the players already connected to Denver are Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall and Colts pass-rusher Dwight Freeney, if Dumervil is cut.
Cap Status: The Chiefs have done a lot of spending already. They still have some room and will get more with the expected cut of quarterback Matt Cassel.
Strategy: No NFL team has been busier than the Chiefs thus far. The new regime found a way to keep three key free agents: receiver Dwayne Bowe, punter Dustin Colquitt and left tackle Branden Albert. But the Chiefs also kept defensive end Tyson Jackson with a much more manageable contract, traded for quarterback Alex Smith and signed cornerback Dunta Robinson. The team is also reportedly close to keeping defensive end Glenn Dorsey. So the new brass is clearly interested in keeping the core of this team while adding at key positions such as quarterback and cornerback. I expect the Chiefs to strike a couple of more times on the open market. But there is no doubt the heavy lifting has already been done.
Cap Status: The Raiders have about $8 million in cap room. More can come with the expected cut of defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. Quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey could also be cut if they don't take pay reductions in the coming days.
Strategy: The Raiders are in a tough spot. They have massive holes throughout the roster. They don't have a ton of cap room, but they also have an impatient owner in Mark Davis. He wants to see the team improve. But the Raiders have been in salary-cap jail for years. There is light at the end of the tunnel for next year. But Oakland has to be smart. McKenzie restructured the deal of safety Tyvon Branch (that McKenzie did last year) just to get some immediate relief. But there is now dead money in future years. Oakland cannot repeat its vicious cycle. But it does have to get some things done now. The good news for Oakland is that this is a deep free-agent class and not a lot of teams are going to spend much. There could be some decent bargains out there. I expect Oakland to pick up a few solid players. Cornerback is certainly a strong position that Oakland will try to improve at.
Cap Status: The Chargers should have about $17 million to spend after the expected cut of defensive tackle Antonio Garay.
Strategy: The Chargers will be interesting to watch. This is a new brass, and thus far, it's been awfully quiet. But things should change once the open market starts. Truth be told, San Diego has to get a lot of work done. It has major holes on the offensive line and at cornerback. Between those two areas, the team may need to add up to five players. But the needs don't stop there. The Chargers also can use a safety, an inside linebacker, a running back and a receiver. Telesco has a strong reputation for being a talent evaluator. We will quickly get a look at how he can add pieces to his new team.
The Chiefs cut right tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday night. His signing last year by the previous regime was considered a coup. He was particularly good in run blocking last season, but struggled some in the pass offense. His release saves a reported $3.5 million as the Chiefs march toward free agency.
Monday, the Chiefs signed two impending free agents, receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt, and gave left tackle Branden Albert the franchise tag. Defensive end Tyson Jackson redid his deal Tuesday to stick with the team.
By jettisoning Winston, the Chiefs have a hole at right tackle. They have options, though. They could use 2012 third-round pick Donald Stephenson there. They could sign a veteran, or use the top overall draft pick on Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.
Those two are considered left-tackle prospects; their chances of going to Kansas City decreased when Albert was given the franchise tag. But with an opening now on the right side, one of the two (Joeckel is the bigger possibility) could be moved to the right side, then to left tackle if Albert doesn’t sign a long-term deal. Albert has no intentions of playing on the right side.
I’m not totally sold on the idea of taking a player at No. 1 and moving him to right tackle. But I think the Chiefs are totally open-minded about the pick, and this is one option. I think they want to trade the pick, but if they keep it, they will take the best player. If that means moving Joeckel or Fisher to the right side, that will be the case.
This move clearly caught Winston by surprise. He recently expressed excitement about the opportunity of blocking for new Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith. In the end, Winston will be remembered for a verbal outburst. Winston ripped some Kansas City fans for booing quarterback Matt Cassel when he was injured in a game; his comments made national news.
I think Winston, 29, will get some opportunities. He could be a nice fit in San Diego if the Chargers want to replace Jeromey Clary. The Chargers are expected to make major changes on the offensive line. I could even see Winston being a fit in Oakland and Denver in the right circumstances, but if he stays in the AFC West, I’d say San Diego makes the most sense.
Monday, the Chiefs took care of three high-priority free agents as they signed receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt to long-term deals and they franchised left tackle Branden Albert. Last week, they agreed to trade for quarterback Alex Smith and Tuesday they restructured a deal with defensive end Tyson Jackson, which saves the team several million in salary cap room. Because neither the Smith trade nor the Jackson deal is official, Dorsey declined to discuss them.
But he had plenty to say about securing the three top free agents. Dorsey said it is his attempt to stock new coach Andy Reid with the best possible talent, starting with in-house talent.
“These are the things winning organizations do,” Dorsey said. “If players play at a high level, you need to do everything possible to keep them with the organization. That is our core belief.”
With all of these moves in the books, Dorsey said the team will now “re-assess the salary cap” and prepare for free agency. Dorsey said the Chiefs plan to be “selective” in free agency, but is open to adding some players.
Of course, the Chiefs also own the No 1 overall pick in the draft. There had been much speculation that they would take Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel with the pick. Now that Albert is secured for at least a year, there is not an immediate need at the position. Dorsey would only say the Albert move gives the team “options." And yes, one of those options remains trading the pick. Both Dorsey and Reid are on the record that a trade is an option.
“We have one phase done,” Dorsey said. “But we continue to chip away. Everything is possible.”
So far, the new Chiefs’ regime is making progress.