Answer Bob, Take Two

Dave says: Bob, what are your thoughts on Pioli’s approach to free agency? We all know that every year there’s a great deal of fan angst if the team doesn’t make 5 blockbuster deals on the first day. But with a much tougher schedule this year, and with tons of available money to spend, I kind of thought Pioli would be a little more aggressive. Breaston is a nice pick-up, to be sure. But Gregg is just a stop-gap and Siler may not even be a starter. So do you agree with the approach, and what do you think the reasoning is behind it? Do you think Pioli is so confident in the current roster that he didn’t need to be much of a player in free agency, or is there something else behind it? And if Pioli is that confident, from what you’ve seen so far, does he have reason to be?

Bob says: Dave, all good, perceptive questions. Let me start by telling you what I believe in when it comes to building a roster. I believe in the way the Packers and Steelers do it – through the draft. They have outstanding personnel departments and scouts, and they work well with the coaching staffs. They fill in the roster holes time-to-time with free agents, but seldom are those imported players given expensive, long term contracts.

We know this – it work. It always has, but you’ve got to have a well-oiled personnel department, with a leader who has great confidence in the plan. A team should never shut itself off from any avenue in acquiring talent. But getting them young and training them in your fashion is the way to go.

What we never really know are how many free agents the Chiefs go after. Because Pioli holds his cards so close, and convinces agents to do the same thing, they operate off the radar screen. It’s another one of those occasions where Pioli doesn’t want to pull the curtain back and reveal what he’s doing.

I sense that Pioli sets the price he’s willing to pay for individual players. He’s involved until his number gets topped and most of the time the Chiefs apparently retire to their corner to await another free agent. Here’s a fact of life with free agency – teams are going to overpay for players. If that’s something ownership or the front office does not want to get involved in, then it’s better for them to stay out of the market.

Here’s the key to building through the draft – you have to be right. You can’t have a draft class like Pioli had in 2009. That can set back the rebuild for years. Players taken in the third, fourth and fifth rounds in ’09 should be stepping into major roles in their third season. Only fourth-rounder Donald Washington remains; the others washed out.

Never confuse free agent frenzy with winning – just think about all the money that Daniel Snyder has wasted on free agents over the years and he’s never gotten near the Super Bowl.

If Pioli wants to win with his approach, he had better hit home runs in the draft. Striking out ain’t going to get it done.

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Marc says: First regular season game is Sept. 11th. Any insight into what kind of festivities the NFL or the Chiefs have planned to celebrate the occasion?

Bob says: Not as of yet. We know there will be a big American flag on the field held by Kansas City area firemen. Those are the people the Chiefs wanted to charge for getting into the stadium to be part of the festivities. Sad. I’m sure there will be some contributions from the league level as well.

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Josh says: For those of us traveling across the country to see the Chiefs at home this year, and with tickets to the public open at 10AM tomorrow (August 3rd) where in the new stadium would you seek seats? I have to imagine you’ve been throughout the complex; price isn’t an object, but we won’t be buying nosebleeds, and unless I’m Will Smith seeking “Happiness” I doubt that I’ll be in a suite. Any thoughts on how or where to get the best vantage point for three out-of-towners?

Bob says: When I was buying ticket I used to know this stuff off the top off my head. But since the kids are grown and gone, I don’t have to pay the big prices. The best seats at Arrowhead are in the club level, but they are very expensive, all more than $200 a chair. Not sure it there are any on the secondary market that may be reduced. I like to be high enough to see the plays develop, so I would suggest Upper Level Touchdown Zone at $59 each or Upper Level Red Select at $83. Those are the seats in the first sections of the upper deck. If you want to go lower, try Field Level Red Zone for $94.

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Phalz says: We continue to hear how there are only 59 or so participating despite there being 90 slots. Is this common around the league or something only the Chiefs and possibly a few other teams are experiencing? I understand they will get more by Aug 4, but it still doesn’t sound like they will have a full 90. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks…Phalz in donkeyland.

Bob says: Considering how much they’ve actually done, not having the full complement of 90, or even 80 hasn’t been a problem. Once they go full out pads in one practice a day, that’s when they’ll need the bodies and I don’t think that will happen until those August 4 players get in the door. I don’t think the Chiefs will get to 90 at any point. I’m not sure they want to, and given the short duration of camp and the new rules, I can understand that.

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Zach says: Do scouts from other teams sit in the stands at MW during training camp to see what the Chiefs are up to? Or would it not reveal enough to be worthwhile?

Bob says: Other teams cannot visit practices unless there is a ticket charge for the average fan. I would expect there might be a visitor or two from other teams at Saturday’s Family Fun Day, since there is a $12 admission charge.

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El Cid says: Why have the Chiefs not signed Carr and Hali (to a long term contract)? Is it brilliant dealing or just plain cheap? I understand the Chiefs can go cheap until 2013 as long as other teams overspend? At some point don’t the current stars get old/injured waiting for enough help to arrive to support Pioli’s plan for dominance? So the rebuild goes on forever and Hunt banks extra millions forever?

Bob says: One man’s brilliant dealing is another man’s just plain cheap. I don’t think there’s any hurry through the first week to get Hali or Carr in camp. They will show up and they will be in shape, whether it’s tomorrow or a day before the opener against Buffalo. But I wouldn’t know why they would hesitate to work on a long-term deal with Hali. He represents all the things they say are important. Since both players can’t go anywhere this year, the Chiefs may have decided not to work on the long-term until it’s absolutely necessary to retain them. Funny, but that’s not what they did with Matt Cassel. I say sign them long-term as soon as you can, because the price is only going to go up. Also remember, Hali and Carr may not be interested in long-term now, preferring to wait and become unrestricted free agents and maximize their leverage.

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Niblick says: Bob, have you heard anything as to why Houston has not signed? Is he trying to get more money because he was projected as a 1st rounder? It seems he is stuck with 3rd round money based on the new CBA. Also, have you heard if Hali intends to sign his franchise tender? If he doesn’t sign by Sept. 20, what are his options?

Bob says: I’ve heard nothing on Houston. Joel Segal is his agent and he’s usually very talkative, but he won’t return phone calls or e-mails right now. There’s no way he could believe he’ going to get first-round money. Hali will sign his franchise tender at some point, probably two weeks before the season opener.

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Justin says: Bob, what is the deal with Houston? I know he slipped a lot in the draft – is that the angle they are working? He’s gotta know his actions caused the slip and holding out seems to be running down the wrong path again. Also who is his agent? Is that perhaps a problem too; too much sunshine blown up the rookie’s rear end?

Bob says: Justin, see above for most of the info you are seeking. His agent’s not likely to be the problem. Segal represents a lot of players and he’s not the type to burn a bridge because he knows he’ going to have to cross that bridge again with another client. Whether it’s trying to get first round money, or not wanting to sign a personal conduct policy, or maybe something else. Consider that maybe Houston wasn’t prepared for the lockout to end so early, and he needs some time to get things out of his system, so to speak. Who knows, but he’s only hurting himself at this point.

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VanCamp53 says: Why does it seem that every day I read an article about how the Chiefs need an upgrade at right corner. I love Brandon Carr, sure he gets burned now and again but when you compare how often he is targeted vs. Brandon Flowers it only makes sense that he will be burned more often. When you look at targets vs. passes defended he seems to be in some very elite company. I think that with Carr, Flowers and Barry we are all but set. If anything we might use another safety. It just seems to me that Carr gets no respect and I do not understand why. Your thoughts please.

Bob says: Through the first half off the 2010 season, Flowers was the best cornerback on the team. In the second half, Carr was the best corner on the field for the Chiefs. He developed quite a bit last year and the Chiefs know that. They don’t have any problem with Carr and I can’t imagine that they would be trying to replace him. They like his size more than Flowers. He’s got good speed and remember, he’s coming out of Division II, so in three years Carr has made a great deal of progress. He should only get better.

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Dio says: Thanks for the taking the questions Bob. I’ve read that Gilberry showed up 10 pounds heavier this year, does that give him the bulk to be a starter? Do you have any impressions thus far on how Cory Greenwood looked so far in camp? Do you see the Chiefs locking up both Flowers and Carr to long-term deals at some point? If only one, who is more likely to get the long-term deal?

Bob says: I haven’t seen Gilberry on campus, but if he added 10 pounds, he’ll lose it after about two days of camp in this heat. He wants to play every down, so he thought he should bulk up. That’s fine, as long as he doesn’t hurt his quickness – that’s his key for getting to the quarterback. Greenwood looks like he’s added a few pounds, but he continues to move well. If he gets a chance, I think he’ll surprise everyone. He’s very athletic and smart – a nice combination. I know I would lock them both up, but I’m going to bet they only get one because they won’t want to put so much money into one position. I can’t pick between them. I like them both. Flip a coin.

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Blake says: Bob isn’t it Ready, Aim, then Fire? Lol

Bob says: Not with my fellow member of the media. Too often it’s Fire, Aim, Ready or Aim, Fire, Ready.

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Dan in Joplin says: Hey Bob, Now that you have seen Cassel for a couple of years, what quarterback either present or in the past would you compare him to? Also, with the new “weapons” he has now, do you see him getting into that upper tier of QBs this year? What is your impression so far of Baldwin, not just catching the ball, but route running, the way he carries himself, how does practice, is he interacting w/the fans or just keeping his head down? I wish I could make it to camp again this year, we loved it last year, but we’re going to the beach instead!
Thanks and keep up the good work.

Bob says: Great question on the QB I’d compare Cassel too. Let me ponder that for awhile and I’ll get back to you. Getting into the upper tier of QBs, that’s going to be tough to get done this year for Cassel. The top tier would be Brady-Manning-Roethlisberger-Brees-Rodgers. Second level would be Rivers-Eli Manning-Tony Romo-Matt Schaub-Matt Ryan-Joe Flacco and then Cassel. He’s among the top 10 to 12 QBs in the league, but the only way he moves up is with post-season success.

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Lyle says: Bob, what’s the chances of Bobby Greenwood, Quinten Lawrence, and Donald Washington sticking at their new positions? Are any of them eligible for practice squad, or is this make it or break it time for them?

Bob says: I think Greenwood and Lawrence have almost no chance. Washington may be able to hang on if he steps up his special teams contributions. I haven’t seen new personnel rules to see if the practice squad rules have changed.

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SG says: A couple questions – what’s your take on RT – are Haley and Muir truly satisfied with what we have with B-Rich or O-CAL – or is there action yet to occur that might add some competition there? Will we see anything develop with a guy like Mr. McClain from Baltimore? Where’s the best barbecue place in St. Joe to wolf down some great product and drink some real sweet tea after watching a practice in the heat?

Bob says: I think at RT the Chiefs would love to increase the level of competition there. If Richardson responded I think they would be quite happy with the outcome. I think the situation with McClain is all about money. The Chiefs have made an offer but it’s not as much as McClain wanted, so he’s waiting to see if he can get a better deal. As for St. Joe, I haven’t found a real good BBQ place. There’s a joint called Whiskey River on Fredrick that has decent food. Not far from campus is the Rib Crib. Downtown is Boudreaux’s, not bad Cajun. There’s also Barbosa’s, pretty decent Mexican.

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Gump says: Hali seems like a no-brainer, but which of the two-four year guys do you think is most worthy of a big, long term deal to stay in KC?

Bob says: I’d go with either of the Brandons, Carr or Flowers. Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert would be considered as well. Remember, Dwayne Bowe’s deal is done this season. They need to get him re-signed if he can come back this year and perform to last year’s level.

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