NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
The Chiefs have not yet won a game in 2013, but they scored plenty of offseason points as they worked on turning around a franchise that hit rock bottom last year.
Gone is the architect of that futility, general manager Scott Pioli - the Chiefs were 23-42 in his four seasons in charge. Andy Reid and John Dorsey took control in the first week of January and they've already remade the franchise in their vision. The coaching and personnel staffs have been revamped, and the team ended the offseason program with 52 new faces on the 90-man roster.
The most important change and potentially the most positive was the trade that brought quarterback Alex Smith from San Francisco. Smith has already made the huddle and offensive meeting room his domain and has stabilized a position that's been in flux for a half-dozen seasons.
"He's a leader on and off the field," wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said of Smith. "He's putting pressure on the defense. He's running the huddle. When we don't have a huddle, he's speeding guys up and the tempo gets us in better shape."
Strengths: Linebackers and secondary. The Chiefs sent three linebackers to the Pro Bowl in January and all three are back - Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston. Only the MIKE linebacker remains unknown as veteran Akeem Jordan and rookie Nico Johnson are competing for that starting job. Depth may be in question, but they have two pass rushers on the outside in Hali and Houston, and a tackling machine on the inside with Johnson.
Free-agent signees Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith have been added to the defensive back picture with Pro-Bowl safety Eric Berry and underrated cornerback Brandon Flowers. Free safety Kendrick Lewis will get pushed to keep his playing time by draft choice Sanders Commings and veteran Quintin Demps.
Weaknesses: Wide receivers and defensive line. Despite recent investments through the draft in pass catchers, the Chiefs group at receiver is shallow in experience and talent. Dwayne Bowe is solid as the team's leading wide receiver, but after him there is no clear No. 2 or 3. Former first-round pick (2011) Jon Baldwin, second-round choice (2010) Dexter McCluster and fourth-rounder (2012) Devon Wylie, along with free-agent signee Donnie Avery are all in the mix with limited production and experience.
On the defensive front, former first-round pick Glenn Dorsey left in free agency (San Francisco), leaving former first-rounders Tyson Jackson (2009) at defensive end and Dontari Poe (2012) at nose tackle. Free agent Mike DeVito comes in from the Jets and knows the scheme being implemented by coordinator Bob Sutton. Depth comes in the form of journeyman Marcus Dixon.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
--Quarterback Alex Smith's offseason performance with his new team had head coach Andy Reid optimistic about getting off to a fast offensive start come training camp.
"I'm asking him to do a ton of things," Reid said. "He's handling it. We've had an interception here or there, but that's all part of this thing. You have to find out about the offense and you can't do that with your hands in your pocket. You have to go out and you have to try things and experiment. He stayed aggressive with the ball and I appreciate that."
--Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said he was pleased with the additions and changes the club has made to their roster in the last six months, but he promised that the shopping for players would not end during the team's summer hiatus.
"We'll never stop trying to add players that can help this team," Dorsey said. "That's something that trumps vacation time."
Dorsey showed his approach by getting into the mix with former Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop and former Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, even though neither landed in a red and gold uniform.
--A cousin of the late Kasandra Perkins, the woman murdered by Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, was awarded custody of the couple's nine-month-old daughter, Zoey. Sophie Perkins was named primary guardian of the child over Cheryl Belcher, Jovan's mother. Jackson County, Missouri probate judge Daniel Wheeler said his decision was based on the judgment that Sophie Perkins would serve "the best interest for stable and permanent placement." A third party will handle the more than $3 million designated for Zoey Belcher in the aftermath of her mother being murdered and her father committing suicide on December 1.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Andy is obviously somebody that's had a lot of success. Watching him on the field and watching him with the players, I can see that confidence rubbing off on them, and certainly me as an owner or our family as an owner and the fans. I think you can feel that confidence as well." -- Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt talking about head coach Andy Reid.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Cause for concern: The Chiefs' offense does not have a lot of proven weapons in the passing game and the work in the offseason program for new quarterback Alex Smith was slowed by the absence of tight end Tony Moeaki and limited participation by wide receivers Dexter McCluster and Donnie Avery. Moeaki was not cleared to practice as he's still rehabbing after surgery in January on his left knee. It's the same knee where he tore his ACL and missed all of the 2011 season. Free-agent signee Anthony Fasano and draft choice Travis Kelce were getting the snaps with the first-offense in practices. McCluster (hamstring) and Avery (ankle) are considered key components to the team's offensive attack, but they got little practice time because of the injuries.
Position battles: There are two starting spots that will see competition in training camp: left guard and the MIKE linebacker. Last season, when starting center Rodney Hudson went down with a leg injury in the third week of the season, starting left guard Ryan Lilja moved to center and second-round draft choice Jeff Allen moved into the starting spot. It proved to be a rough year for the rookie. He's trying to hold off another second-year player Donald Stephenson and free-agent signee Geoff Schwartz.
The MIKE linebacker spot is open due to the suicide of last year's starter Jovan Belcher. Over the last month of the 2012 season, Brandon Siler filled that role, but he was not re-signed. Free agent Akeem Jordan was signed after playing six seasons for the Eagles as the utility linebacker, working both outside and inside. In the fourth round of the draft, the Chiefs selected Nico Johnson, one of the leaders of the defense that pushed the University of Alabama to a second straight national championship.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: T Branden Albert (tendered at $9.828 million; signed tender March 21).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--CB Travis Daniels (not tendered as UFA).
--S Abram Elam (not tendered as UFA).
--RB Peyton Hillis (not tendered as UFA).
--G Russ Hochstein (not tendered as UFA).
--G Ryan Lilja (not tendered as UFA).
--DB Kyle McCarthy (not tendered as ERFA).
--TE Jake O'Connell (not tendered as UFA).
--TE Martin Rucker (not tendered as RFA).
--LB Brandon Siler (not tendered as UFA).
--DT Shaun Smith (not tendered as UFA).
--LB Leon Williams (not tendered as UFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--TE Travis Kelce (3/63): $3,126,304/4 yrs, $703,304 SB/$188,000 max RB playing time 20014-2016.
--RB Knile Davis (3/96): $2,741,000/4 yrs, $506,016 SB.
--LB Nico Johnson (4/99): $2,671,000/4 yrs, $486,000 SB.
--CB Sanford Commings (5/134): $2,400,512//4 yrs, $215,512 SB.
--C Eric Kush (6/170): $2,310,116//4 yrs, $125,116 SB.
--FB Braden Wilson (6/204): $2.263,680/4 yrs, $78,680 SB.
--LB Mike Catapano (7/207): $2,254,124/4 yrs, $69,124 SB.
DRAFT CHOICES UNSIGNED
--T Eric Fisher (1/1).
--T Branden Albert: FFA; $9.828M/1 yr.
--WR Dwayne Bowe: Potential UFA; $56M/5 yrs, $15M SB/$26M guaranteed.
--P Dustin Colquitt: Potential UFA; $18.75M/5 yrs, $8.9M guaranteed.
--LS Thomas Gafford: UFA; $715,000/1 yr.
--LB Edgar Jones: UFA; terms unknown.
--S Husain Abdullah: FA; $715,000/1 yr.
--WR Donnie Avery: UFA Colts; $8.55M/3 yrs, $2.25M SB/$2.55M guaranteed.
--QB Chase Daniel: UFA Saints; $10M/3 yrs, $3M SB/$4.8M guaranteed.
--S Quintin Demps: UFA Texans; $715,000/1 yr.
--LB Zac Diles: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Mike DeVito: UFA Jets; $12.6M/3 yrs, $6.2M guaranteed.
--TE Anthony Fasano: UFA Dolphins; $16M/4 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.
--WR Mardy Gilyard: FA; $555,000/1 yr.
--LB Akeem Jordan: UFA Eagles; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Austen Lane (waivers Jaguars).
--LB Orie Lemon: Not tendered as ERFA by Cowboys; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Dunta Robinson: FA Falcons; $15M/3 yrs, $3M SB/$3.95M guaranteed.
--G/T Geoff Schwartz: UFA Vikings; $630,000/1 yr.
--QB Alex Smith (trade).
--CB Sean Smith: UFA Dolphins; $18M/3 yrs, $12M guaranteed.
--LB Frank Zombo: Not tendered as RFA by Packers; terms unknown.
--TE Kevin Boss (failed physical).
--WR Steve Breaston (released).
--QB Matt Cassel (released).
--FB Patrick DiMarco (released).
--DE Glenn Dorsey: UFA 49ers; $6M/2 yrs, $2.285M SB.
--LB Cory Greenwood (released).
--TE Steve Maneri: Not tendered as ERFA/Bears; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Bryan Mattison (released).
--DE Ropati Pitoitua: UFA Titans; terms unknown.
--QB Brady Quinn: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--G/C Rich Ranglin (released/non-football injury).
--LB Andy Studebaker (released).
--QB Alex Tanney (released).
--T Eric Winston (released).