- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Kansas City Chiefs made major news Monday when they agreed to terms on new deals for pending veteran free-agent standouts receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt and placed the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert.
The Chiefs secured their three biggest free agents as they begin the Andy Reid and John Dorsey era. Let’s look at some key aspects of the day.
New regime sends message: Monday’s commitment to three players from a team that finished 2-14 last season showed the locker room that the new brass believes in this group. There is talent on this roster and Bowe, Albert and Colquitt are key players that can help this team win. All three would have been heavily sought after on the open market.
Reid and Dorsey knew it was important to keep all three and these moves showed the players that it is a new day in Kansas City.
Fresh start for Bowe: No player in Kansas City was more positively affected by the Pioli firing and Reid hiring. If Pioli was kept, I doubt Bowe would have wanted to re-sign. But Reid, who has been said to be a fan of Bowe since his LSU days, gives him a fresh start. His summer holdout last year seems like a million years ago now.
Reid will make Bowe a focal point of a pass-first offense. With 2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin still an unknown, the Chiefs need Bowe. Now it will be up to Bowe to show he is worth the investment. He still has some problems with drops and there is some worry he may get comfortable now that he has been awarded a long-term contract. But I think he will be refreshed by playing for Reid. After all, Bowe could have shunned the deal with the Chiefs and tested the open market.
Welcome gifts for Alex Smith: Before securing their three in-house priorities, the Chiefs addressed their biggest need by trading for former San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith last week.
Smith is expected to help the Chiefs because he protects the ball and is efficient. His new job was made easier Monday with the news that Bowe will be his top target and Albert will protect his blindside.
How Albert's tag affects the draft: There was speculation the Chiefs would let Albert walk in and draft Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M with the No. 1 pick. Now it’s time to scratch another position off the Chiefs’ wish list. Forget the idea of moving Albert to right tackle. He’s a left tackle. I guess Joeckel could be drafted to play right, but Eric Winston is a fine pro and teams don’t use the No. 1 overall pick on a player to move him to a new spot.
The guessing game continues for the Chiefs. Perhaps Kansas City will consider Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner with the top pick. If Utah defensive lineman Star Lotulelei's heart condition proves to be minor, he could be in the mix. I think the Chiefs would love to trade out of the pick and do even more now that left tackle has been secured. I still think a run at Darrelle Revis would be a worthwhile use of the top pick. Adding Revis to what the Chiefs have already accomplished this offseason would be impressive.
What’s next: Expect the Chiefs to cut quarterback Matt Cassel and likely defensive end Tyson Jackson (unless he takes a massive pay cut). The Chiefs need to create some cap room after these moves Monday. The rest of the team’s unrestricted free-agent class is underwhelming and there are no must-re-signs.
With Smith, Bowe, Albert and Colquitt secured, the heavy lifting is over. Now it’s time to see if the Chiefs add anything in free agency and what they can do with the top pick. Once the disastrous 2012 season was over, I think the Chiefs have to be thrilled with the decision to hire Reid in early January to Monday’s news.