The Kansas City Chiefs have a star in the making in Tony Moeaki. The well-rounded tight end established himself as an emerging player at the position with a rookie year that not only boasted very solid stats — 47 receptions, 556 yards, 3 touchdowns — but he also showcased good blocking skills and a great chemistry with Matt Cassel and the Chiefs offensive scheme.
Just earlier this offseason, the KC Star’s Adam Teicher said the tight end was the key to the Chiefs passing game despite the addition of former Cardinal Steve Breaston and first round choice Jonathan Baldwin. Peter King called Moeaki the Dallas Clark of the Kansas City Chiefs. Those words just prove what Chiefs brass have likely been grinning about for some time — that Moeaki was going significant places. Now that’s been placed on hold.
The Chiefs are now left with a void due to Moeaki’s season-ending injury. And it’s a difficult one to replace. There’s no player on the roster who can take over his duties. The Chiefs did just sign Anthony Becht before the injury, but he was brought in to add another blocking tight end to go with Leonard Pope. The duo together should help goal line and short yardage situations, but they won’t give Cassel the pass catching opportunities he’d have with Moeaki in hand.
Instead the Chiefs are going to have to find help elsewhere. As the dominoes fell over the weekend with hundreds of players getting cut, the Chiefs apparently stood still content with their own players despite the injuries. Desmond Clark was released from the Bears — a veteran TE with solid hands. Chase Coffman is from the region and grew stale on the Bengals bench, but his pass catching ability should be well-known around the Kansas City area. Both remain available but for now, the Chiefs don’t seem interested.
Jake O’Connell has stuck around through a few training camps despite always being on the fringes or among the forgotten. He has 5 career receptions and continues to linger as a former seventh rounder. Maybe the Chiefs believe he’s still capable of stepping in — he’s obviously still on the team. Or maybe he’s next to go once they sign someone else. There’s simply no telling at this point.
The assumption, then, is that help will come from within. And the one player sitting around who hasn’t been utilized to his fullest extent is Dexter McCluster. While McCluster cannot help with pass protection, he can help as a target for Matt Cassel outside the box in much the same way Moeaki used to slip off of the line to spread the defense. The goal is to keep defenses honest and respectful of the entire field of play, and McCluster has the game-breaking ability and athleticism to be a threat if he’s used properly.
The best bet at this point is for the Chiefs to retool with what they have in house instead of bringing in someone from the outside. McCluster seems to fit the bill better than anyone given the combination of his obvious talent with a lack of position and expectation. If anyone can rise to the occasion it will be the former second round choice. Here’s hoping the Chiefs can ease the pain felt from the loss of Moeaki and still move forward with their high powered offense.