On Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs signed their third-round draft pick, offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, to a four-year contract. Stephenson becomes the seventh of their eight selections to be inked to a deal so far this offseason (only first-round pick Dontari Poe remains unsigned).
The Chiefs are making quick work of getting the business side of the game taken care of as it relates to their rookies. By doing so, it eases the external pressures on the young players so that their main priority can be coming into camp and finding their way around the team and the NFL.
In addition to handling rookie contracts with a renewed sense of urgency thus far, general manager Scott Pioli wasted no time in filling positions of need by adding depth via free agency this offseason. After a year derailed in large part by management and the coaching staff's lackluster approach, Pioli seems resolute in not duplicating the steps that led to the outcome of the 2011 season.
Although the new CBA makes it easier to get draft picks signed to contracts by reducing the negotiating power of the players and their agents, being able to quickly unite the entire team with no hurdles gives the Chiefs a jump start to their 2012 season—one that comes with high expectations.
Once Poe and the Chiefs agree on contract terms, expect the organization's focus to shift towards figuring out how to lock up wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a long-term deal.
With much of everything in place, the Chiefs can spend the majority of their time preparing for the upcoming season with minimal obstacles—something that was made difficult last year by a late start due to the lockout.
Having only missed consecutive AFC West division titles by two blocked field goals during a 16-13 overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders in Week 16 of last season, the Chiefs seem to be making all the right moves to reverse those fortunes in 2012.