As Scott Pioli is looking forward and constructing the Kansas City Chiefs roster for 2012, the team is going to have to address the offensive line at more than one point. Barry Richardson is a free agent and is widely regarded as a subpar option for the Chiefs moving forward. Steve Maneri, the only back-up tackle has switched to tight end. Rodney Hudson provided the only interior back-up spot on the roster last season and starting center Casey Wiegmann might retire. In short, there are more uncertainties than certainties.
That makes this free agency period and draft class especially important on the offensive front. Hudson played in 16 games, but only started 1 in a season where the Chiefs might be making some quarterback shifts (or at least keeping them on a short leash). Going through a full season with only Hudson as the center option on the roster also does not make sense. He’s been groomed through his college days at Florida State as a guard and center, so his flexibility is a positive. However, is he ready to provide playoff-caliber protection and game calling in the middle? That much is unknown.
If Pioli decides that it’s not okay to have an unknown in that position, then some back-up should be expected. The Chiefs could easily leave the door open for Wiegmann to return whenever he decides. That would be a solid move since Wiegmann has been a consummate pro who is not likely to enter the Hall of Fame, but who has enjoyed an incredible career nonetheless.
Dan Koppen is another option from the New England Patriots who could possibly move on from their longtime starter at center. After being placed on injured reserve for most of the season, questions surrounded the future of Koppen with the team. The 14-year veteran wants to stay, but he also realizes the doors are open to play elsewhere.
“Do I want to stay here and play?” Koppen told the Boston Herald recently. “Yeah, absolutely, I’d love to come back here and play. But I’m not shut off to the idea of going other places or seeing the opportunities that may present itself when the free agency period comes. It’s an uneasy time, but it’s an exciting time.”
The ties to Kansas City are obvious given Pioli’s background with New England. If Wiegmann retires, Koppen could easily find a one or two year deal to provide that starter bridge to Hudson or insurance in case Hudson isn’t working out. Then again, Hudson could easily shift to guard if he’s deemed better than Ryan Lilja, for example.
Bringing in a veteran center makes more sense than anything. Whether it’s a familiar face or a new one doesn’t matter. What is clear is that the Chiefs have multiple holes to fill in this particular section of the roster, and signing an experienced veteran would help in numerous ways in terms of talent, flexibility and locker room presence.