KANSAS CITY MO - NOVEMBER 21: Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball during the game against the Arizona Cardinals on November 21 2010 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Chiefs have a tremendous amount of young talent on the team heading into the 2011 season and beyond. The organization will have some tough decisions to make over the next few years as to who remains a "core" part of this team in the future.
Over the last four weeks we've taken a look at each positional group for the Kansas City Chiefs and broke down exactly what the immediate future, and long-term future looks like at each of these positions. Here are the breakdowns in case you've missed anything:
Eric Berry And The Opportunity For Greatness
Jamaal Charles And The Running Back Rotation
Signing Tamba Hali Is Priority Number One After The Lockout
Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin, And Tony Moeaki Provide Balance For Matt Cassel
Continuity Is Key To Success For Offensive Line
Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey And Aubrayo Franklin In 2011
Considering you can't always keep all of your players from year-to-year, each general manager or team president will have specific philosophies on they build their teams. Some teams rely heavily on free agency and trades, as seen by the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears in recent memory. Some teams rely almost specifically on the draft and keeping their own guys, teams like the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers. You'll notice that the caliber of organization varies greatly in these two separate philosophies.
The Kansas City Chiefs now find themselves in the ‘build through the draft' mold of these two scenarios. Most teams fit somewhere in the middle but we took a look at the two extremes to give you a picture of the difference. Aiken_Drum over at Arrowhead Pride took a look at a philosophy of building a team with a "core 7" a few months ago and talked a little bit about Bill Polian, the President of the Indianapolis Colts and this philosophy that has served them well.
The philosophy is based around establishing a core group of players, somewhere between 6-10 players that will mold the franchise for the duration of their careers. They don't always have to be the ‘best' players, but they have to be building block players who mirror the image of the organization and head coach. The rest of the roster is set with rookies and journeymen veterans. Much has been made of Scott Pioli's infamous "Right 53" phrase that described an ideal of team-building with guys who have the same mindset and uniformed passion towards the game.
Now that we've broken down all of the different positional groups let's take a look at who the "core 7" of the Kansas City Chiefs might be in this philosophy. We're going to hold off from adding any incoming rookies to this thought because we really don't know what we're getting until they actually step foot on the field this fall (hopefully).
1. Jamaal Charles has made himself the key piece of this organization for the next five years with the extension that he signed last season. The reported deal was for 5 years and $32.5 million. The deal is on-par with other running backs contract extensions and was very team-friendly, considering the importance that Charles has on this team moving forward.
2. Derrick Johnson had the football version of an "extreme makeover" last season. The Chiefs had always seen those flashes of Johnson since making him a first-round pick in 2005. He flourished last season in Romeo Crennel's defense and the Chiefs rewarded Johnson with a 5-year $34 million deal, with $15 million guaranteed. It's obvious after this contract that Johnson would be considered a "core 7".
3. Tony Moeaki finds himself among this elite company because of his strengths as both a consistent pass-catching tight-end for Matt Cassel, but also because of his blocking ability. One of the most underrated skills of any one particular player on the Chiefs last season was Moeaki's blocking for the Chiefs No. 1 ranked rushing offense. Moeaki is the type of player that good teams have around and it would be wise of the Chiefs to keep the sophomore player for a long, long time in a Chiefs uniform.
4. Eric Berry should get a lifetime contract from the Chiefs right now. This kid is going to be special and it's going to surprise nobody in Kansas City when everyone around the NFL comes to know Berry as the best safety in the game. His development throughout the season last year was an absolute thrill to watch. He was considered the best blitzing defensive back in the NFL last year while making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He is going to be the identity of this defense for hopefully the next 10-12 years in Kansas City.
5. Brandon Flowers is coming up on a season in which the Chiefs will have to make a decision with him and Brandon Carr. Both of these cornerbacks played very well at times for the Chiefs and both set statistical marks in the NFL that place them atop their position. Flowers was the best tackling corner in the NFL and Carr was one of the best at completion percentage against last season. Flowers is the corner of these two that would be most difficult to replace with his open-field tackling ability. It gives Crennel so many options in different schemes when they feel comfortable leaving a guy on his own on one side of the field.
6. Branden Albert is the lone offensive lineman on this list, although next year it should include Rodney Hudson. Albert plays a very solid, not spectacular left tackle on the Chiefs offensive line. He's not above having a bad game, but find a left tackle that isn't and take a look at his paycheck. Albert should get a contract extension when the time comes and it won't be surprising to see the Chiefs lock him up for the future. For three years now we've been told they were going to draft his replacement in the first round, and for three years they didn't. Eventually Chiefs fans will recognize that they are pretty high on Albert, and with our run game being flat-out dominant, it does make sense.
7. The first thing the Chiefs need to do when the lockout is lifted is to hammer-out an extension for Tamba Hali. He finished second in the NFL in sacks last year with 14.5, DeMarcus Ware led the NFL with 15.5. The Chiefs have said that they want to keep Hali in Kansas City and Hali has said he wants to be in Kansas City. This deal should get done not long after the new CBA agreement gets signed.
It's these seven players that the Chiefs could look to build around for the future and it would seem to be a pretty bright outlook if that were the case. There are some other players that fit into a 6-10 player range that could be a part of the Chiefs future.
The 2011 season will determine whether or not Matt Cassel gets another contract with the Chiefs. He has gotten better each season and if he continues to do that he will be a member of this group. There is another step in his maturation that will need to occur if he is going to be the guy for this team down the road though. Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey could very easily be a part of a core as well, but they both have progressions to take as well to show that they are not easily replaceable.
The Chiefs have a solid core of young talent but it's naïve to think they will be able to hold on to all of these players long enough to give them all second contracts. If the Chiefs adopt the ‘Polian' way of doing things, it will be interesting to see how they go about choosing who's going to be a part of the future of this franchise.