Chiefs fans went into the recent free-agency period and draft expecting a shiny new Porsche. Instead, they got a Ford 150—steady and dependable, but not particularly sexy.
General manager Scott Pioli’s reputation preceded him from New England, and deservedly so. He and Bill Belichick moved draft picks and players like fantasy league owners, adding a Randy Moss there, a Wes Welker there and regularly turning first-round picks into a bounty of mid-round selections.
Pioli’s first move was a blockbuster, landing quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel in exchange for this year’s second-round pick. With numerous holes to fill and ample money available under the salary cap, fans naturally expected Pioli to be a major player in free agency. Instead, he went bargain shopping.
The vaunted New Englandway, after all, is less about superstars and more about building a true 53-man roster. Most of Pioli’s signings are not household names, but they could go a long way toward addressing the team’s atrocious special teams play and overall lack of depth.
Mike Goff and Eric Ghiacuic should challenge for starting jobs on the offensive line. Zach Thomas and Monty Beisel will shore up a weak linebacking corps, while Beisel also will contribute on special teams.
Receiver Terrance Copper also can help on special teams while adding much-needed speed at wide receiver. And perhaps one of the unheralded tight ends can help ease the loss of Tony Gonzalez.
The draft brought more of the same. Instead of can’t-miss linebacker Aaron Curry, the Chiefs selected blue-collar lineman Tyson Jackson in the first round. Few of the draftees are widely known, but all have the potential to plug a hole on an NFL roster.
The Chiefs’ roster remains a work in progress. Look for Pioli to add more second-tier veterans as other teams adjust their rosters before training camp. Right now, wide receiver and linebacker are the major areas of concern.
Fans who expected a bigger splash this off-season instead should wait patiently for one more year. After shoring up the lines and special teams, Pioli likely will begin shopping for playmakers, with tens of millions of dollars in cap money to spend. That’s when the fun really will begin.