Back To Indy … Thursday Cup O’Combine

From Indianapolis, Indiana

Didn’t the NFL just leave here the other day? Wasn’t the confetti falling on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium just last Sunday?

For the second time in the month of February, the NFL has taken over the Circle City with the NFL Scouting Combine. There are more than 325 players that will spend four days moving around various stations in the city for physical exams, MRIs, x-rays, meetings, drills, test taking and physical testing. With those players are probably an equal number of agents and their employees.

All 32 teams are in town with contingents exceeding 50 administrators, coaches, scouts, doctors, trainers and others. It will be six days of early mornings and late nights, and that doesn’t even include time in the hotel bar for a bed-time toddy.

Tuesday morning, Southwest Airlines flight 2626, a non-stop from Kansas City to Indianapolis included numerous members of the Chiefs Combine party, including GM Scott Pioli. No fancy private plane for Pioli or even an airline with a first-class cabin. He was row No. 4, window seat on the right, with a full aisle next to him, his nose buried in his laptop.

It will be a busy week for Pioli in Indianapolis. This is his time of year.

Head coach Romeo Crennel, just as Todd Haley did, is involved in the personnel process this time of the year. But Romeo’s season begins in August. Pioli’s began with the final gun of the season’s final game in Denver.

Since he grabbed the keys to the Chiefs bus, the team has re-signed LB Cory Greenwood and TE Jake O’Connell. They’ve brought in S Kyle McCarthy as a street free agent and this week, Pioli got a deal done with free agent CB Stanford Routt. There are 49 players on the roster for 2012, or at least 49 that the public has been informed about. With an 80-man roster limit, nearly 20 players who will become free agents in three weeks and draft choices to prepare for, there’s a lot of important work that remains to be done.

And, these days in Indy are at the core of the personnel process each year. It’s not just eyeballing the potential draft choices. Its day-long meetings with his own staff and then sitting down with the enemy. No, not the Raiders, but the agents for players – potential draft picks, free agents and Chiefs players as well.

Over the years the guts of a lot of NFL contracts have been worked out at St. Elmo’s Restaurant, Harry & Izzy’s and P.F. Chang’s, restaurants very popular with the NFL-set in downtown. A lot of other contracts died on the vine in Indy as well. The Chiefs and Jared Allen did not part ways until just before the 2008 NFL Draft, but the marriage broke up at the Combine that year when discussions between Allen’s agent and the Chiefs turned acrimonious.

Without a doubt near the top of Pioli’s to-do list will be meeting with a couple of guys like Ben Dogra and Todd France. Dogra is the agent for CB Brandon Carr; France is the agent for WR Dwayne Bowe. There are other players that the Chiefs had last year that they’d also like to bring back, but right now there’s no question the priorities are keeping the team’s better players first, then filling in with others, either through retention or from other teams.

But a rebuilding football team, especially one with so much money to use under the salary cap, can’t lose their better players and without a doubt, Carr and Bowe are among the half-dozen best players on the Chiefs roster.

Then there’s the time with the potential draft choices. Pioli works under the idea where the heavy lifting in the evaluation process of draft choices is already done. If Pioli and his staff have done their job, they there is little that should come out of Indy that surprises them.

What the Combine does allow NFL teams the opportunity to literally get their hands on the bodies of these players. The medical process is the No. 1 reason for the Combine. The second best reason for everyone getting together in the Indy is the chance to speak individually with the players. Unfortunately, because of the number of players and teams, each club gets to speak to just 60 players, each one for just 15 minutes.

Over the next six days – the Combine runs through next Tuesday – a lot of important work will get done in this happy little burg that has become the NFL’s second-home every February.

Pull the string on the Giants victory over New England, and it will unravel a season that began with meetings and information that went down in Indianapolis.

6 Responses to “Back To Indy … Thursday Cup O’Combine”

  • February 23, 2012  - KC_Guy says:

    Bob, just wondering: The pre-season roster is back to 80 players this year? And then? Cutdown to 75 players on 28 AUG, to 53 on 2 SEP?

  • February 23, 2012  - James says:

    Does anyone really think the Chief’s will resign Carr? I think that ship sailed several days ago. Do teams let the agents know which FA’s they’re interested in at the combine or is that considered tampering? Will look forward to your analysis of the OL as I think the Chief’s will be drafting at least a couple this year.

  • February 23, 2012  - Blake says:

    I don’t think Carr will get resigned but I do think it that there is a good possibility that he is tagged and traded for picks.

  • February 23, 2012  - txchief says:

    I hope both Carr and Bowe are resigned. Obviously, Bowe has more leverage than Carr after the acquisition of Stanford Routt. It absolutely makes sense to tag and trade one of them if both cannot be signed to realistic contracts. That way, the Chiefs get at least something in return for losing the player.

    It will be an interesting free agent season, probably different than what we have seen before. Only teams that have a dire need at a particular position will be inclined to sign free agents to huge contracts. Drafting younger players with a known cost under the rookie salary cap makes much more sense in a great deal of situations. The real superstar free agents will continue to command gigantic money, but not every free agent will not be able to fleece his old or new team. Talented veteran players with long careers will likely be better off staying put rather than jumping from team to team.

    The new labor contract gives both the teams and players some security. The teams don’t have to overpay for unproven early round picks, but the money is guaranteed to the player. Proven veterans will be paid more, and there is more incentive to stay with the team that drafted and developed the player. There may be more incentive for player-for-player trades rather than trading for draft picks under the new labor agreement. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months.

  • February 23, 2012  - ED J says:

    WEll at least we’re talking here’s link says Chiefs have had talks with Manning agent about coming to KC hopefully it isn’t true at least not found to be true because it would be tampering since he’s still under contract with Colts. Either way good news because we do have best team for Manning to be successful if he’s willing to play outdoors. anyways here’s the link:

  • February 23, 2012  - txchief says:

    I’d agree with ED J and the ESPN folks that a healthy Manning would work well for KC. I certainly doubt that Pioli would risk tampering with the Colts, especially after he busted Gunther Cunningham for it a couple of years ago.

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