We've been debating whether or not Mike Vrabel had a place on the upcoming 2011 Kansas City Chiefs roster, and it looks like Scott Pioli's decision has been made for him. 810 Sports Radio is reporting that Vrabel is heading to accept an unknown position at Ohio State -- a rumor Joel Thorman over at Arrowhead Pride picked up on just yesterday.
This move comes with a few obvious pros and cons, although nothing will be said from the Chiefs officially except for how much Vrabel will be missed. And that point is true. Vrabel has been the consummate pro -- this off-season's legal issues notwithstanding -- in helping to direct a young club and defense toward championship behavior. He held his tongue through a painful first season, especially with Todd Haley's first-year coaching hiccups and odd defensive coordinator hire (leading to Clancy Pendergast). He helped the team adapt to Romeo Crennel and served the very purpose Pioli had in bringing over his former defensive leader at New England.
At the same time, that arrest in an Indiana casino was lingering once Vrabel would have stepped foot in a KC facility and could have been a potential distraction. That's a minor issue if Vrabel had also been considered a force on the field still, but those days are mostly behind him as the Chiefs would have kept Vrabel around more for his intangibles than anything else.
The reality for 2011 and beyond is that Justin Houston was just taken as a high risk/reward third round choice in recent NFL Draft, a Georgia linebacker/defensive end who has an incredible speed rush ability who could potentially be paired across from Tamba Hali for the long term. Also, Andy Studebaker was just signed to a three-year extension last September and should take advantage of the chance to start as well. There was simply no room at the other outside linebacker spot.
Most importantly, the Chiefs success and turnaround in mentality, character and work ethic changed the culture enough to the point that having a Mike Vrabel type around wasn't as necessary as it was in 2009. Other leaders have emerged. Guys put their head down and do what they need to do. There's a new company line and everyone toes it.
Mike Vrabel was the right acquisition at the right time for Scott Pioli as a brand new general manager coming in to Kansas City. It's a testament to both the front office and Vrabel himself that the team is ready to move on. And apparently, so is he.