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R.I.P. Tom Bettis

One of the best coaches to ever work the Chiefs sideline was buried on Tuesday in Katy, Texas.

Former assistant coach, defensive coordinator and interim head coach Tom Bettis died on Saturday in that Texas town near Houston. He was 81 years old.

Ironically, he passed away on the same day that cornerback Gary Green went into the Chiefs Hall of Fame. It was in 1977 that Green joined the Chiefs as a first-round selection in the ’77 NFL Draft. His first position coach and defensive coordinator was Bettis, who halfway through that season was named interim head coach after Paul Wiggin was fired.

“The best coach I ever had,” Green said of Bettis on Saturday without knowing the coach had passed away. “I played for four different head coaches, four different coordinators and four different defensive back coaches (with the Chiefs) and Tom Bettis was the smartest guy I was around. I always wished that I would have had the chance to spend more than one season with him.”

Green was not the only Chiefs defensive player that held Bettis in high esteem. Over the years Hall of Famers like Willie Lanier, Emmitt Thomas and Bobby Bell have all spoken about the coaching smarts that Bettis displayed throughout his early Chiefs career when they played for him.

William Thomas Bettis was born on St. Patrick’s Day 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in the Windy City and went off to play college football at Purdue University. He was the first-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in the 1955 NFL Draft as a linebacker. Bettis played seven seasons in Green Bay, including an NFL Championship in 1961. He then played one season with Pittsburgh and one season with the Chicago Bears team that won the 1963 NFL Championship.

Bettis began his NFL coaching career in 1966 on Hank Stram’s staff with the Chiefs. He stayed for 12 years before he was fired at the end of the 1977 season along with the rest of Wiggin’s coaching staff. He then spent seven years coaching with the St. Louis Cardinals (1978-84), and then one-year stints with Cleveland (1985) and Houston (1986-87), before he returned to coach on Frank Gansz’s staff with the Chiefs for the 1988 season. He finished up his coaching career with two seasons in Houston (1993-94).

He’s survived by three daughters and nine grandchildren.

Chiefs Play Tag With Houston

To the surprise of no one, the Chiefs will use their franchise player designation on Monday on outside linebacker Justin Houston.

The deadline for using the tag was 3 p.m. CST. Joining Houston with the designation are Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Pau. Miami tagged tight end Charles Clay with the transition player designation.

The Chiefs will use the non-exclusive version of the franchise tag. That means Houston can seek contract offers from other teams, but it would cost that suitor a fairly large chunk of money and salary-cap space and two first-round draft choices.

“Justin is a talented player and a key contributor to our defense,” General Manager John Dorsey said in a statement provided by the Chiefs. “Today was the deadline to designate a franchise player, and it was in the best interest of the club to place the tag on Justin. We will continue to discuss long-term options with him and his agent. Our goal is to reach a deal that is mutually beneficial. We want to keep Justin in a Chiefs uniform for years to come.”

The tender offer for a franchise linebacker is $13.195 million.

Next step belongs to Houston – he must decide when he signs the offer. As soon as he signs the tender, it’s guaranteed for the season whether he blows out a knee or gets run over by a bus. Also, signing will take him off the market for the next year.

If he decides to put off signing the franchise offer, then he remains without a contract and does not have to attend the Chiefs off-season program or training camp. If he signed the tender offer before the start of the season, he could still make the entire amount. If he sits out until the 10th week of the season, he would still qualify for another season under league rules, but it would cost him seven weeks pay. That would be a loss of approximately $5.5 million.

With the non-exclusive designation, Houston can negotiate with other NFL teams. If he got an offer sheet, the Chiefs would have the right to match the contract terms. If they decided not to match, the team signing Houston would have to give up two first-round draft choices.

Also, the Chiefs can rescind the franchise designation at any time, but that would make Houston an unrestricted free agent with no compensation back to the team.

Franchise Tag Worth $13.19 million For Houston

The NFL and the NFL Players Association let the league’s 32 teams know some important numbers for the 2015 season on Monday. That’s the salary cap number and the tender offers for franchise and transition players.

The Chiefs are tagging outside linebacker Justin Houston with the franchise designation and that means their offer to the NFL’s leading sacker in 2014 will be $13,195,000.

The salary cap number is $143.28 million, but the cap for each team is different because of carryover money from the 2014 season. According to NFLPA figures the Chiefs pushed $2,246,790 from last year’s cap into the coming season. That should put the Chiefs cap number at $145.526 million for the coming season.

Here are the franchise and transition player numbers for the coming season: …Read More!

Chiefs Welcome Back Gary Green With HOF Honors

Gary Green Now & Then, as a high school head coach in San Antonio (L) and as a cornerback for the Chiefs (R).

As the participants at the NFL 101 Awards press conference walked to the dais Saturday afternoon, there was one face that I did not recognize. De’Anthony Thomas was there, introduced as the winner of the Mack Lee Hill Award as the team’s best rookie performer in the 2014 season. Sitting next to Thomas was Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and then there was this mystery man.

Hunt introduced the third person as the 2015 inductee to the Chiefs Hall of Fame – former cornerback Gary Green.

But the person in front of the room at the Westin Crown Center Hotel did not look like the Gary Green I remembered, last seen with the Chiefs at the end of the 1983 season when he knew his time with the franchise was short. It wasn’t until he opened his mouth and began to speak about the honor of being named the 45th member of the team’s HoF that his identity was confirmed. He has less hair, maybe carrying just a few more pounds, but he still has the same high-pitched voice, the same smile and still shows that glint in his eyes that made him a locker room favorite for seven years with the Chiefs.

Gary Green was back with the Chiefs. Now, that’s an unexpected headline. …Read More!

Teammates Honor Houston & DAT For Play In 2014

The annual NFL 101 Awards Banquet honors some of the best performances by players and coaches in the league from the 2014 season. That’s why Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, Pittsburgh’s duo of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians were in the house Saturday night at the Westin Crown Center Hotel.

It’s also the night the Chiefs announce their honors from last season: the Derrick Thomas Award as the team’s most valuable player went to outside linebacker Justin Houston, while the Mack Lee Hill Award for best rookie performance went to running back/receiver/returner De’Anthony Thomas.

Saturday night, Thomas was in the house for the event, but Houston was not. His absence is hardly a surprise given his current situation. Houston and everyone else in the NFL waits to see if the Chiefs tag the linebacker with the franchise player designation. They have until Monday to do that. For Houston, it would have been a long night of being asked what’s happening with his contract; reportedly he had a prior commitment. His original four-year contract with the team will officially end in 10 days when the new league year begins. …Read More!

Who Survives the Chiefs Version Of Musical Chairs?

Maybe I’m showing my age here, but the current behind the scenes action among the NFL’s teams at this time of year reminds me of a game of musical chairs. Do they even do musical chairs anymore?

For youngsters out there that may not know, musical chairs starts with say 10 people walking around a circle of nine chairs. Music is played and when it stops, everybody tries to get a seat. With nine seats, obviously one of the 10 players is left standing and is out of the contest. Another chair is removed, the music starts again and so on until there’s two participants, one chair and the person sitting is the winner.

Right now, the Chiefs are going through a similar exercise. They have a salary cap to deal with, and players that they want to keep who are about to gain their football freedom through free agency. Cap room is tight, with a lot of scrambling for chairs at the NFL dinner table. Big decisions have to be made on current Chiefs and players they hope to add for the coming season.

These are the names that have crossed the radar screen of general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid For all the armchair general managers out there, let us know what you would do about the following players and their status with the team. What would you do? Players are listed in alphabetical order. …Read More!

Chiefs Cut Fasano

It’s a busy time around the personnel wing of Arrowhead Stadium as the Chiefs spend time working on their salary cap, making moves to apply the franchise player tag on outside linebacker Justin Houston and adjusting their roster.

Another one of those moves came on Thursday when the Chiefs released veteran tight end Anthony Fasano. The move will create almost $2 million in room under the salary cap. Fasano was scheduled to count $4,209,375 on the cap tab for the Chiefs. By releasing him, they gain $1,959,375 of cap room but have to eat the rest as dead money.

Fasano signed a 4-year, $16 million deal with the Chiefs in 2013. Over the last two seasons, he’s played in 24 of 32 games, making 22 starts and catching 48 passes for 426 yards and seven touchdown receptions. He will be 31 years old in April and is heading into his 10th season in the league.

The development of Travis Kelce made Fasano expendable. They also have Demetrius Harris coming off the injured-reserve list and also on the roster are Brandon Barden, Adam Schiltz and veteran Richard Gordon.

The NFL Combine Numbers Sometimes Lie

They put away the tape measure, scale and stopwatch at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday as the league wrapped up the physical testing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The players were all out the door on Monday, and the club personnel will be on their way on Tuesday.

Many consider the Combine to be nothing more than underwear Olympics and there’s no question that a lot of attention goes to the guys that post top-flight numbers in the testing whether it’s in the 40-yard dash, bench press or the 60-yard shuttle. Any group of football players will present a broad spectrum of body types and physical talents, and within that collection of over 340 players, there are some truly outstanding athletes.

That does not always translate to being a productive player in the NFL. The history of the NFL Draft is filled with examples of workout wonders that turned heads running around in t-shirt and shorts, lifting their station in the group. The poster child for the Combine bump was defensive end Mike Mamula out of Boston College in 1995.

Before the Combine that year, he was pegged as a mid-round prospect coming off a senior season when he had 13 sacks and 73 total tackles at B.C. But Mamula spent months getting ready not for football, but for the drills run during the Combine. He ended up running the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at 250 pounds. That was faster than wide receiver J.J. Stokes. On the bench press with 225 pounds, he ripped off 28 repetitions or two more than offensive tackle Tony Boselli. He posted a 38.5-inch vertical jump, an unheard of number for a player of his size.

When the start of the ’95 NFL Draft came around, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up from No. 12 in the first round to No. 7 so they could select Mamula. It cost them a pair of second-round draft choices. Mamula was not a bust, but he never justified his selection at No. 7 with his play on the field. In five seasons with the Eagles he collected 31.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and an interception. …Read More!

How Fast Were NFL Combine Wide Receivers?

The NFL Combine featured the wide receivers on the field Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, including running the 40-yard dash, the best measurement for speed that evaluators in pro football have at their disposal.

There was no record setting performance by any of this year’s receivers. The fastest time University of Alabama-Birmingham receiver J.J. Nelson, the dash in 4.28 seconds. Nelson is 5-10ÂĽ, 156 pounds and last year in 12 games with UAB he caught 35 passes for 655 yards and 4 touchdown catches. A two-time high school 100 meters champion in Alabama, Nelson is the lightest player in the Combine since 2002 when wide receiver Aaron Lockett from Kansas State University weighed 155 pounds.

Coming into the Combine, University of Miami (FL) receiver Phillip Dorsett was expected to push on the event record for the 40-yard dash that was set in 2000 by running back Chris Johnson at 4.24 seconds. But Dorsett was timed in 4.33 seconds, taking the 40-yard dash silver medal. There was a tie for the bronze between University of Georgia’s Chris Conley and West Virginia University’s Kevin White; they both ran 4.35 seconds.

Former University of Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (left) turned in a time of 4.49 seconds, running at 229 pounds. K-State’s Tyler Lockett ran the 40 in 4.44 seconds to finish in the upper half of the 40 receivers that were timed by scouts and league officials on Saturday.

There were five receivers that did not run the 40 on Saturday: Dres Anderson of the University of Utah (torn left meniscus), Geremy Davis of the University of Connecticut (hamstring) Breshad Perriman of the University of Central Florida (hamstring), DeAndre Smelter from Georgia Tech (torn ACL) and Cam Worthy of the University of East Carolina (foot).

Here’s the 40-yard dash times posted Saturday by the NFL. Also, the height and weight numbers are from the Combine: …Read More!

Dorsey Speaks At The NFL Combine

It was John Dorsey turn in the media pit on Thursday at the NFL Combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis.

Much as his head coach did, the Chiefs general manager held his cards very close to his vest when it came to talking about the roster, free agency and the NFL Draft. We wouldn’t have expected anything but the quiet and cautious approach from Dorsey

There were plenty of questions concerning outside linebacker Justin Houston and just where the Chiefs stand with their league leading sacker.

“I think Justin Houston is a fine football player,” Dorsey said. “I think what he did this year, I mean, he did a wonderful job. We applaud him for that. His representative is in town and I’ve had ongoing discussions with his representative.”

Other words from Dorsey: …Read More!

Andy On Injured List At NFL Combine

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid limped up to the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium when he met with the media at the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

Reid also used a cane – he’s rehabbing from knee replacement surgery in January. When asked if he would ready for off-season duties, Reid said: “I’ll be ready to go. I won’t be starting on PUP.”

In his answers to questions from the media Reid did not break any news about the Chiefs. He seldom does.

Here are some of Reid’s answers:

Decision to release wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins: “I appreciate both of those guys, Donnie and A.J. Two different situations, one guy is a little bit younger than the other guy and Donnie has had a lot of good years in the National Football League. Hopefully he continues to have good years. I’ m pulling for him. A.J.’s just learning. He’ll continue to do that and hopefully hooks on with someone and has that opportunity.” …Read More!

Chiefs Start Housecleaning At Wide Receiver

The Chiefs got busy on Tuesday cleaning up their roster and payroll at the wide receiver position by releasing Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins.

The moves should save the team close to $5 million under the salary cap for the 2015 season, while leaving them with only minimal dead money on their account. Both receivers were in the final year of their contracts. Avery’s dead money will be just $500,000; that’s a pro-rated portion of his signing bonus and Jenkins won’t cost the Chiefs a thing because they acquired him in a trade with San Francisco in 2013 and there was no signing bonus pro-ration.

Avery was scheduled to make $2.7 million in base salary in 2015 with a $500,000 bonus if he was on the roster and $200,000 workout bonus. It was all part of the 3-year, $8.55 million deal he signed in 2013 as an unrestricted free agent. His release gives the Chiefs $3.4 million in cap savings in 2015. Jenkins was scheduled to make $660,000 in base salary with a $677,390 roster bonus. His release gives the Chiefs a cap saving of $1,337,390.

Both Avery and Jenkins dealt with injuries far more than they did with catching passes. Avery missed 14 games in two seasons because of injury and ended up catching 55 passes for 772 yards and two touchdown catches. He also had a 79-yard scoring catch against Indianapolis in the 2013 playoffs. Jenkins did not play in 11 games over the last two seasons and caught 17 passes for 223 yards and no touchdowns. He also had a catch for 27 yards against the Colts in the post-season.

NFL Clock Starts Monday On Franchise Player Tags

The official 2015 NFL business year starts March 10, but as of Monday league teams may use their franchise player and transition player designations to protect players that have played out their contracts and will become unrestricted free agents.

Players like Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston. Media reports over the weekend, led by ProFootballTalk.com, indicated that Chiefs negotiators and Houston’s agent Joel Segal will continue to work on a new contract this coming week. That news quite obviously came out of the Houston camp, so that may be wishful thinking on their part.

What is not in doubt is this – if a long-term contract can’t be reached by 3 p.m. Central Time on March 2nd, the Chiefs will use their franchise player tag on Houston. Whether they use the non-exclusive or exclusive franchise designation, the move will limit Houston’s options in free agency to one team – the Chiefs.

The NFL has not yet released a concrete figure on the salary cap number for the 2015 season. That very likely will be released to the teams sometime in the next two weeks, probably at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that starts on Tuesday and runs through February 23rd. That number will help set the tender offer that teams must make to their franchise player. …Read More!

Alex’s Feeling Better; He’s Playing At Pebble Beach

On Saturday Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith finished up three days of play at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament on the PGA Tour.

Smith was paired with professional Jason Gore and they finished 16-under par over 54 holes. That wasn’t close to making the cut in the Pro-Am portion of the annual event. The low 25 duos will play on Sunday. Playing with PGA Tour pro Aaron Baddeley and country singer Clay Walker, Smith and his partner shot 64-66-69, finishing among the top 60 teams.

Remember, Smith’s football season ended a week early when he suffered a lacerated spleen and was forced to miss the final game of the season against San Diego. Smith said at the time the only thing he could not do according to the doctors was put his body at risk of being physically hit. That certainly wasn’t a problem at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, not unless he possibly ran into comedian Bill Murray who might try to tackle him in a sand trap.

At the famous par-3, hole No. 17, the CBS-TV coverage team did a video look at Smith’s golf swing with commentary from announcer Peter Kostis, a noted teacher of the game. On the 17th tee, Smith hit a nice tee shot on the green, but he blew the putt going up the hill and did not come close to a true birdie. It’s the same hole where Tom Watson chipped in and won the 1982 U.S. Open.

Also playing at Pebble Beach this week is former Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards. He was paired with pro John Daly. The only other footballer that was taking part was former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton. In the past the field has included Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and other big football names.

Chiefs Add Another Defensive Back To Roster

This week the Chiefs signed cornerback Shaquille Richardson to a one-year contract.

The 6-1, 190-pound Richardson was selected in the fifth-round (pick #157) of the 2014 NFL Draft by Pittsburgh out of the University of Arizona. He was released before the start of the regular season and signed to the Steelers practice squad. During the season he was injured in practice and eventually reached an injury settlement with the team in November.

At Arizona, Richardson played in 49 games with 37 starts. He picked up 189 total tackles along with 10 interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown in 2011. He also forced three fumbles and recovered two others.

He will be 23 years old in March and was timed in the 40-yard dash going into last year’s NFL Draft in 4.43 seconds.

LaDainian Tells Talk of Fame Network Jamaal Is Best

Appearing on the Talk of Fame Network this week, former San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson said that Jamaal Charles is the best running back in the NFL right now.

“If I’m thinking about a guy who sparks fear in a defense,” Tomlinson said, “it has to be Jamaal Charles.”

Tomlinson told hosts Rick Gosselin, Clark Judge and Ron Borges that the versatility Charles has shown makes the difference in being the NFL’s best back.

“The threat of a running back who can run it and catch … but, at the same time, be able to take it 80 yards on any given play, that’s rare,” Tomlinson said. “And that sparks fear in a defense.”

Here’s the link to the site and the interview with Tomlinson.

NFL Coaching Carousel Finally Stops Spinning

With the passing of the 2014 NFL season, attention turns toward the coming season. It’s been a busy time in the NFL coaching ranks, not just with seven teams hiring new head coaches, but new coaching staffs and individual changes across other teams with a returning head man.

After all the shuffling, there were 20 of 32 teams that changed a head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator or special teams coach. Some of those coordinator positions opened up due to firings and promotions. Seattle lost its defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who became head coach in Atlanta. Quinn was replaced by Kris Richard who was part of the Seahawks defensive staff. Baltimore’s offensive coordinator last season was Gary Kubiak, but he’s now the head coach in Denver. Replacing Kubiak with the Ravens is fired Chicago head coach Marc Trestman.

There are seven different head coaches, a dozen different offensive and defensive coordinators and nine new special teams coordinators/coaches.

The Chiefs were one of a dozen teams with no changes at the top in head coach or coordinator positions. As near as we know, Andy Reid has not made any deletions or additions to the staff that was employed last season. …Read More!

Chiefs Will Zero-In On WRs At Upcoming NFL Combine

There will be 44 wide receivers working at the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis in two weeks. They will go through the typical tests and drills the Combine has always offered, and they will interview with individual teams.

Whether it’s the first round, or picks in later rounds, the Chiefs are going to draft a wide receiver. After ignoring the position in their first two drafts, general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid can’t afford to look past the pass catchers in the 2015 NFL Draft. It’s a position of need and there appears to be an abundance of talented prospects.

Their selection(s) don’t have to come from the NFL Combine list but generally they do; Dorsey and Reid made 14 selections in the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts and 11 players were Combine invitees. The only players drafted without that trip to Indy were center Eric Kush and linebacker Mike Catapano in ’13 and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in ’14. All three were sixth and seventh-round selections.

The Chiefs need an infusion of talent at other positions beyond the receivers, and they’ll be busy keeping their eye on blockers and tacklers at the Combine as well.

Today, here’s a look at the invited wide receivers. They are listed in alpha order and the statistics are from their 2014 college seasons. The last column is an early projection from NFL types on the round the player will be selected in the ’15 Draft. Overall, the projections come off the play of these receivers during last season. Some receivers will move up in round projection and some down based on evaluations from all-star games, the Combine and workouts for individual teams. Players without a round are currently candidates to be undrafted college free agents. …Read More!

NFL Combine Invites 324 Players To Indy

The NFL will select 256 players in the 2015 NFL Draft. That means some 68 of the 324 players invited to this year NFL Combine in Indianapolis will not be selected.

Actually, that number will be higher because several draft choices will be used on players that were not tendered invitations to the activity on February 17-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy.

Among the invitees there are 168 offensive players (15 quarterbacks, 36 running backs, 44 wide receivers, 20 tight ends and 53 offensive linemen.) There are 144 defensive players (55 defensive linemen, 35 linebackers and 54 defensive backs.) There are 12 specialists (5 kickers, 1 long snapper and 6 punters.) Among the group are 64 underclassmen that declared for this year’s draft.

Kansas State, Missouri and Kansas had 10 players that received invitations:

  • K-State (2) – OL B.J. Finney, WR Tyler Lockett.
  • Mizzou (5) – DL Markus Golden, WR Dorial Green-Beckham, OL Mitch Morse, RB Marcus Murphy, DL Shane Ray.
  • KU (3) – LB Ben Heeney, PK Trevor Pardula, DB Jacorey Shepherd.

Here are the invited players for this year’s Combine, list in alpha order: …Read More!

Chiefs Add Veteran Defensive Lineman

The Chiefs have signed five-year veteran defensive lineman Vaughn Martin to a contract. The deal was announced this week on the NFL’s daily personnel wire.

Martin, 6-4 and 300 pounds did not play in the NFL during the 2014 regular season; he was released in June last year by Detroit. Previously, he spent four seasons with San Diego and one season in Miami. He entered the league in the 2009 NFL Draft, selected in the 4th-round (#113) by the Chargers out of the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Martin was the first underclassmen out of Canada ever selected in the NFL Draft.

He’s Jamaican born and Canada raised and will be 29 years old in April. He battled a hernia problem in 2013-14 which lead to his release by the Dolphins in November ’13 and his release last season by the Lions. In 48 NFL games, he’s started 27 times with 78 total tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble playing at left defensive end. During his time in San Diego, he played against the Chiefs six times and totaled 11 total tackles.

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