NFL Draft: How Tony Gonzalez Can Play a Role in This Year's Draft

Russell FikeCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2009

Tony Gonzalez will probably stay in Kansas City. 

One would think that the all-time leader in career yards, touchdowns, and receptions for tight ends would warrant greater interest than a third-round draft pick.  However, as last year’s trade deadline approached that was the best offer on the table when the Chiefs shopped the face of Kansas City football for thirteen seasons. 

It is unlikely that teams around the NFL have a change of heart as the draft approaches.  Many teams are scared off by the future hall-of-famer’s age arguing that the talented, pass-catching tight end has only a couple of great seasons left.  Yet Gonzalez expresses a desire to play for an immediate contender.  What to do?

Despite the lack of prior interest, teams may be swayed by a number of factors.  Gonzalez is coming off of another pro-bowl season and even in his late thirties still proves a matchup nightmare.

Tony brings strong leadership and depth of character to any locker room.  His work ethic is a testament to blue-collar perseverance that seems incongruous to his “new-age,” pass-catching tight end identity.  Gonzalez is a player who will decide when he retires and isn’t likely to be forced out of the league by deteriorating skills.  

So here’s the real question, “Can we make a deal?” 

Two things to consider:
1) Can Tony Gonzalez be packaged with anyone or anything else to make a trade more appealing?

2) What are the Chiefs looking for in compensation? 

The Chiefs seek to continue boosting their team with an influx of youth.  This means building through the draft.  So it is ironic that I propose the Chiefs take a strategy of packaging Gonzalez with one or more draft picks.

Specifically, I would like to see the Chiefs tie Gonzalez to their second round pick and offer the two as a package with the intent of acquiring a second first round pick.  With talks of Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman potentially moving up the boards with a strong showing at the combine, the quarterback is likely to go in the second half of the first round. 

While the Chiefs could sit and nab the developing prospect, it’s unlikely he will be available.  Rather, the Chiefs would be better to trade up roughly twelve to fifteen spots to grab Freeman around pick twenty.

Why Freeman?  Standing at 6’6” 241 pounds, Freeman is the prototypical build for a quarterback with a strong arm to match.  Freeman is a native of Missouri who played in a pro-style offense in college and possesses good mobility.

It would be foolish for the Chiefs to spend a top five pick on a quarterback as this is not their greatest position of need.  The Chiefs are likely to grab either Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, or Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with their first pick.

It's unlikely that the Chiefs can grab either USC quarterback Mark Sanchez or Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford as they’ll be gone within the first ten picks. Freeman however, is reminiscent of a Joe Flacco who while not overlooked will hang on the board long enough that the Chiefs could sneak up to grab him.

With further irony, I fully advocate the starting of Tyler Thigpen for at least another year.  So much so that I’ve grimaced at the rumors of the Chiefs drafting a quarterback, but drafting Freeman is truly an investment in the future rather than reaching for an immediate band-aid. 

A band-aid won’t heal the broken franchise the Chiefs have become.  General Manager Scott Pioli understands that the Chiefs' offseason is more about reconstructive surgery than covering scrapes and stopping minor bleeding.  Losing Tony would hurt fans emotionally, but surgery doesn’t begin without making the initial cut.