Aggressive Moves Give Kansas City Chiefs Freedom in NFL Draft and Free Agency

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystMarch 4, 2013

The timing of Dwayne Bowe's contract enabled the Chiefs to tag Branden Albert.
The timing of Dwayne Bowe's contract enabled the Chiefs to tag Branden Albert.Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs were facing tough decisions following the 2012 NFL season, highlighted by the quarterback, left tackle and No. 1 wide receiver positions.

All three have now been resolved. 

The Chiefs traded for Alex Smith, agreed to a five-year contract extension with Dwayne Bowe and placed the franchise tag on Branden Albert, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. They also re-signed Dustin Colquitt and made him the highest-paid punter in the league.

At least from the standpoint of personnel, the Chiefs are basically the same team they were in 2012 plus Alex Smith. In many ways, maintaining the talent on a roster is just as important as actually adding impact players. If you are constantly losing talent, you have to replace it.

The San Diego Chargers are a great example of what the Chiefs avoided.

Had the Chiefs waited any longer, they would have been in a situation where they would have needed to find a left tackle through free agency or the draft. It also makes sense that the Chiefs would want the additional security and flexibility that having a solid left tackle on the roster provides.

The timing of the deal was the only surprising thing, but that was also necessary.

The Chiefs had to complete a long-term deal with Bowe or Albert so they could secure the other with the franchise tag. It was always more ideal to give the long-term deal to Bowe, considering the two players' track records and health.

When the Chiefs traded for Smith, it basically took quarterback off the table for the No. 1 overall pick. The same can’t be said for placing the franchise tag on Albert, because he can be moved to left guard if the Chiefs draft a left tackle.

Still, it would be a curious decision if that’s the plan. It’s not like the Chiefs are at risk of having another team draft the left tackle they want. Albert is not some type of hedge bet at the position.

With Bowe, the Chiefs secured the best available wide receiver to pair with their new quarterback. The alternatives to Bowe would have been just as costly, but not as talented and potentially older. More than a few teams were probably hoping Bowe would hit the open market.

The deal for Bowe and tag for Albert gives Kansas City the freedom to take the best player regardless of position with the first pick. Drafting the best player available is not always feasible if the team hasn’t been able to address huge areas of need. It is a luxury for teams that don’t have glaring weaknesses.

While all the moves the Chiefs made can probably be criticized from a value perspective, these deals represent more than just the physical talents of the players themselves. It’s a team game, and John Dorsey and Andy Reid are tasked with fielding the best possible team they can.

Exploring trades, retaining players, adding free agents and drafting well are all part of the long-term plan. The Chiefs have already managed to make a big trade and take care of their best players without mortgaging the long-term future of the franchise with bloated contracts.

The Chiefs have attacked the offseason without fear. That type of attitude is easy to like from a new regime that is trying to rebuild the league’s worst team into the great franchise it used to be.

When you think about it, that’s really the only way to do it. The margin for error in the NFL is so small, and each regime is given so little time to turn things around. Chiefs fans have reason to be excited about what they are seeing, even if not every move Kansas City has made turns out to be great.