The options for Matt Cassel and the passing game next year opened up with the drafting of Jon Baldwin at wide receiver. Tony Moeaki and Dwayne Bowe also give him two quality targets that return for the 2011 season.
The Chiefs pick of Jon Baldwin in the first round of the draft this year definitely filled a big need for the Chiefs entering the 2011 NFL season. It was inevitable that the Chiefs would take a wide receiver at some point during the draft; we just didn't know when Scott Pioli would pull the trigger on filling that spot. While a first round choice was actually spent, does that mean the Chiefs have invested enough in the position?
Just a few days after the draft a report came out that said the Chiefs had actually called to congratulate the Seattle Seahawks for a particular draft pick that they had made. The player was Kris Durham, a wide receiver from the University of Georgia. Joel over at Arrowhead Pride suggested that we might not know if the Chiefs were considering Durham pre or post-Baldwin pick. But it does beg the question of whether or not the Chiefs will look to add another wide receiver via free agency, whenever that might happen.
The receiving game already looks to be improved heading into next season with the addition of Baldwin, but Dwayne Bowe's emergence as a Pro Bowl wide receiver is what led to a lot of the success for the Chiefs last season. Bowe finished the year with 1162 yards receiving which was good for 7th in the NFL, and he led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 15. Yet, it wasn't a perfect season for Bowe.
There were some costly drops throughout the course of the season, most notably against the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders, which cost the Chiefs a chance at winning either of those games. The Chiefs will need Bowe to not only continue to improve on his own game, but take on a role that he has not been saddled with yet to this point. He'll need to be a positive mentor to Baldwin as he will be the player that Baldwin looks to with questions or concerns.
One of the biggest surprises last season was the instant-chemistry between Matt Cassel and Tony Moeaki. The rookie tight end averaged 4 receptions for 43 yards through the first four games of his career and finished the season with 556 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also made himself a permanent fixture on any Chiefs highlight reel for his one-handed touchdown catch against the San Francisco 49ers week three at Arrowhead Stadium. Moeaki should continue to be one of Matt Cassel's favorite targets headed into next season and should develop into one of the best tight ends in the entire league.
There is no way to be sure if the Chiefs will become active players in the market for a wide receiver, but a solid crop awaits if they're interested. Depending how this new CBA agreement is written, there are also a lot of WR's that are considered restricted free agents (RFA) right now that could become available too.
Adding a high-priced free agent WR like Sidney Rice doesn't make sense immediate after drafting another vertical threat like Baldwin, but some free agents wideouts still fit the Chiefs needs. As a run-first team, the Chiefs now have three quality targets in Bowe, Baldwin and Tony Moeaki. However bringing in a veteran presence might not be such a bad idea if he could come at the right price and fill the slot receiver role.
One of the WR's that will be available is Santana Moss from the Washington Redskins. He is a veteran WR that will be 32-years old when the season begins so he might be available at a reasonable price. He has averaged 80 receptions per season over the last 3 years and could help with the transition to Jim Zorn, his former head coach in Washington that is now the quarterbacks' coach for the Chiefs. Here's what Moss had to say about Jim Zorn as his head coach back in 2009 from a story via CBS Sports:
"I like Jim Zorn, I like what he wants to do, I like his whole logic to the game. I feel like he knows that this game isn't based on just passing or just running, he knows that you have to have talent all over and have key guys in key spots. I like what he has to offer us as a head coach and I'm going to back him because I feel like we all believe in his scheme and that we can be successful in it."
Moss has very good hands and is a reliable receiver that always had a knack for getting open and had one of the best seasons in his career last season playing more in the slot. With all of the young players that the Chiefs have on offense heading into next season, getting a reliable veteran might not be a bad idea.
One of the issues with bringing in a veteran is how it could possibly stunt the growth of the young receivers like Verran Tucker, Jeremy Horne or Quinten Lawrence. We still don't know how Jerheme Urban is going to return after coming off of an injury and he could very well be the guy to step into this role. But without knowing the roles of Chris Chambers, Urban or even Kevin Curtis heading into next season, we could be in the market for a veteran receiver.
The other issue with adding a veteran receiver, like Moss, is the fact that he won't play on special teams. It gets to the point to where your 3rd and 4th receivers on gameday are also playing special teams and the majority of free agents available will not fit this criteria. It's something to consider when you start looking at how the game day roster might look like after free agency as we head into OTA's and training camp, someday. Whether or not the Chiefs decide to get a wide receiver during free agency one thing is for certain, the pick of Jon Baldwin has given the Chiefs plenty of options heading into next season.