Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Something Is Missing in the Manning Situation
by Jeff Herr,posted Mar 12 2012 3:35PM
Fans in Kansas City found themselves incredibly excited last week when word came down that the Chiefs were highly interested in signing Peyton Manning, the biggest NFL free agent since Reggie White.
When rumors crept out that the Chiefs were the only ones to offer Manning a contract, the excitement levels ratcheted up even further. Those reports have since been questioned by knowledgeable media in the area, but it was clear the Chiefs were interested.
Since then, it has been quite the roller coaster ride of emotions regarding the situation. What started as joy and excitement, turned to abject terror when word came out about how much time Manning spent with the Broncos. The only thing worse than a swing and miss on Manning, would be if he were to sign at rival Denver.
While that seems more and more like a possibility every day, the situation is still pending. Nothing concrete has come out on where Manning is leaning but it has been reported that the Chiefs are still in the running, however slight that might be.
If Manning chooses not to sign with the Chiefs that is unfortunate but wouldn’t be a shock. There is much more that goes on in courting free agents and negotiating things than we all realize. We don’t know exactly what Manning is looking for and we don’t know what the Chiefs have or will offer.
The most distressing part as a Chiefs fan would have to be the fact that, not only has Manning not visited KC, but he was invited and declined. If there was a way to show less interest in this team, someone would have to show me.
Even removing my bias, KC seems like an excellent fit for Manning. Indianapolis and Kansas City are as close as two cities can be when it comes to culture. The Chiefs maintain one of the best fan bases in all of sports, even through their struggles. The team went 7-9 and almost won the division while missing their best offensive and defensive players. Tyler Palko started four games and they were still within a last second blocked field goal of winning the division for the second year in a row.
On the surface this seems like a great place for Manning to compete while finishing out his career. Yet, he didn’t come to visit and (according to reports), hasn’t even talked to the team himself. I will reserve full judgment until we have a definitive answer on where Manning is going, but this does hint at some bigger issues.
There is no doubt that Manning was aware of what happened to the Chiefs last year with Todd Haley being dismissed after (reportedly) repeated issues with Scott Pioli. He would have clearly been able to see that Chiefs have not spent the money in past years to show they are committed to winning.
While the contracts to players like Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers are encouraging, the remainder is sorely lacking. The Chiefs may be adept at identifying their problem areas, but have not shown an ability to fix them.
Kansas City chose to go the cheap route last season with their biggest offseason need at nose tackle. They didn’t upgrade their offensive line in any meaningful way and may have actually downgraded it for 2011. With a player like Brandon Carr right in front of them, the Chiefs have seemingly just let him walk away (even though nothing is official yet). While he may have cost more than the Chiefs wanted to spend, the very fact that they don’t want to spend that much conflicts with the idea they want to put a winning product on the field.
While nothing is certain, and Manning hasn’t nor will he ever explain why he didn’t want to come to Kansas City to visit, this is a swing and miss the Chiefs just couldn’t afford. Missing this big might actually be worse than not pursuing at all.
The fans in the area could talk all they want about the league-wide perception of the Chiefs, but the evidence so far has been minimal. A free agent this big barely giving the Chiefs a sniff could be the tip of an iceberg of much larger problems.
Chiefs brass have gone on record stating they want to be players in free agency this year. They elected to roll over cap space from the previous year so they would have more to spend. Whether this will come to fruition or is all talk remains to be seen.
As an organization the Chiefs have been afraid to overpay some free agents. They have put themselves in a position now where they don’t have much of a choice. A controlling, difficult to work with general manager, a stingy owner, and general dysfunction has lead to a reputation that has gone around the league. Even if it’s a good fit, players might be hesitant to sign here for these reasons.
There are two ways to fix this: winning and spending.
If last year is any indication, this team probably can’t fix this all by winning in 2012. While they may be favorites to win the division this coming season, their prospects as a true contender are minimal. If they don’t win on the field the only way players will want to come here is if they get paid.
You can’t build an entire team through the draft. Players don’t pan out, they can’t be re-signed and some years are just not available at the positions you need. An organization must be able to bring in free agents to compete.
The organization has been very quiet in recent years on why they have spent as little money as they have and what their plans are for the future. While we as fans can probably never expect a straight forward explanation from the current regime, money can do a lot of the talking.
The Chiefs don’t have to spend on every free agent out there, that wouldn’t be smart. What the Chiefs need to do is strategically identify the players that make the most sense and can help the team. Once they are identified, they need to be acquired.
Perception is reality in today’s world. The only way for the Chiefs to change their current perception is to change their reality. Make Kansas City a destination, put a competitive team on the field, win some games (maybe even a playoff game?) and we won’t have big time names dismissing the team before their even in the running.
Jeff Herr: There’s Something Missing in the Manning Situation
Please Enter Your Comments Below
Manning or Not...
The Chiefs can and will be more competitive than last year, even if we put #7 or 8 or a combination under center. We do need to upgrade our offensive line, nose tackle position, and add depth. Our biggest concern is the QB play and our lack of ability to score points last year!
Hit me up @ChiefsatWar on Twitter
Get those Colts!
Great post! I think that the Chiefs still have a chance here. We have to double down, and pick up those other jettisoned Colts. It starts with Jeff Saturday. He's an elite, but aging center, and a guy that Peyton is very comfortable with. Likewise, Ryan Diem. These two signings will show PM that we are serious about addressing our deficiencies and winning now.
If that doesn't do the trick. Offer PM a co-OC position to go with the starting QB job. He may get injured again regardless, and I trust his offensive mind more than Brian Daboll. OK, maybe a stretch on that title, but you get my point. The Chiefs can't roll over on this. Stay active, and do what it takes!
no free agent ever wants to play for a medicore franchisw. This Chiefs always will be like this and always be!
Re: Chiefs suck
No message board ever want's a illiterate poster. Go get your sixth grade education then post your hateraid.