The clock is ticking as the start of the 2009 NFL Draft draws closer.
It’s also ticking on the Chiefs attempts to deal out of the third spot in the first round.
And it’s ticking on the possible trade of tight end Tony Gonzalez.
The next 48 hours will decide if Chiefs GM Scott Pioli can pull off a deal or two and add more draft picks by giving up the third selection and the future Hall of Fame tight end.
Listen, Pioli has deal-making in his blood. He was part of it so many times with the Patriots. They approached draft day trades on two avenues. If one of their targeted players was still available, they wanted to make sure they got him and New England would trade up. If there wasn’t a player on their list who was available at their pick, they were likely to trade down.
Of course, we know nothing for sure on how Pioli views the prospects in this draft or the possibility of trading out of the pick. Those cards continue to be held close to the vest.
The same goes with the Gonzalez situation and whether or not Pioli will deal the veteran tight end who wants to be elsewhere.
One man’s prediction: he gets stuck with the third pick, but does work out a deal for Gonzalez.
Here’s a closer look.
Here’s what we “think” we know:
- The Chiefs want out, just like every team with spots at the top of this draft.
- There have been no trades in the top five since the 2003 Draft.
- Reports out of Detroit indicate the Lions will select QB Matt Stafford.
With Stafford going to the Lions, that limits the chances of the Chiefs dealing the pick. If the Lions had gone for an offensive tackle or LB Aaron Curry, and Stafford would have been available with the No. 3 pick, there could have been a whole new look to the top of the first round.
Now the focus falls on QB Mark Sanchez. There are teams in the league that like Sanchez over Stafford and if you can believe media reports – and often you can’t at this time of the year as teams and agents spread misinformation – there are three teams especially interested in the Southern Cal passer: Seattle, the New York Jets and Washington.
If it’s true that the Seahawks have an interest in Sanchez, that could be Pioli’s only chance to deal. If the Jets or Redskins were convinced they had to get ahead of Seattle to get a chance for Sanchez, a trade might get done. The Seahawks have the fourth pick, Washington has the 13th choice and New York pick No. 17.
Now, if Pioli truly wants to get out of No. 3, more than likely he’s going to have to accept an offer that’s less than what the draft pick value chart would indicate.
Should Sanchez get past No. 4, it’s likely he will still be there at No. 8, as Cleveland, Cincinnati and Oakland are unlikely to select a quarterback.
So, would the Seahawks be interested in Sanchez? Starting QB Matt Hasselbeck missed nine games with a back injury last season and he will turn 34 in late September. At some point, they must identify Hasselbeck’s replacement and it wouldn’t appear that’s Seneca Wallace or Charlie Frye, who are on the Seahawks roster.
Seattle GM Tim Ruskell praised Hasselbeck, a three-time Pro Bowl passer with two years left on his contract: “I still think he’s in his prime.
“We have needs, but not priorities,” Ruskell told the Seattle media.
Smoke screen or real deal? That’s a question that gets asked a hundred times a day in draft war rooms around the NFL at this time of the year.
Yes, Clark Hunt said Gonzalez wasn’t going anywhere. But that’s easy to say when the NFL is meeting in a southern California resort in March.
It’s quite another when it’s April and teams are picking up the phone and talking about making a deal for the veteran tight end and they are offering draft choices in return.
One of the hardest decisions any team makes is when to jettison a veteran. There’s always that fine line between getting rid of an older player before his production drops, but not getting rid of him too soon.
Now seems the perfect time to deal Gonzalez. First, he doesn’t want any part of the rebuilding process. He showed that by missing last weekend’s mini-camp. Second, he’s made it plain to the Chiefs he wants out, while saying publicly he’ll do whatever is best for the team. Three, Gonzalez has said he will play one, two more years max. Obviously he can change his mind.
It would be a shame if the Chiefs walked away from a team that was willing to deal for Gonzalez in exchange for a first or second round draft pick. SI.com’s Don Banks says the Eagles are interested in making a deal for Gonzalez for a third-round draft choice.
Is it true? It would make sense that Philadelphia would be interested. Certainly, it would qualify under what Gonzalez is looking for: a team with a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Would Hunt/Pioli pull the trigger for a three?
It’s not hard to believe that Pioli wants a second-round pick, since he does not have a selection in that round. Plus, Tampa Bay gave up a second-round pick in this year’s draft to Cleveland to acquire TE Kellen Winslow. Yes, Winslow is seven years younger than Gonzalez. He’s also never shown the consistency and production that Tony G. has done throughout his career.
Still, for a team like the Eagles that believes in the draft, giving up a second-round pick for a guy who might play one or two more years is a steep price. Last year, Philadelphia gave up a fourth-round pick (No. 115) to Miami for RB Lorenzo Booker, who ended up playing in 10 games and contributing 64 yards in offense. Booker was 24 years old.
Last year, Eagles tight ends L.J. Smith, Brent Celek and Matt Schobel combined for 66 catches for 626 yards and four touchdowns. Andy Reid could give Donovan McNabb some big help in the Philly offense with Gonzalez, especially now that Smith has left, signing as a UFA with Baltimore.
I haven’t been asked and won’t be asked, but here’s a suggestion: trade Gonzalez to the Eagles for the second-round pick (No. 53) and swap spots in the third round; the Chiefs have pick No. 67 and the Eagles own No. 85. That would be a significant jump for the Eagles, who would have two of the first 67 picks, along with veteran players like Gonzalez and OT Jason Peters who they picked up in trades.
That deal would give Pioli three of the first 85. Right now he has two of the first 67.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN DETROIT WITH THE LIONS
The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday evening that the Lions have been in negotiations for the last two days with Tom Condon, the agent for Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford.
The Free Press reports the Lions have placed a Friday deadline on the negotiations with Stafford, because they’ve got a deal already worked out with LB Aaron Curry.
Stafford told ESPN he was deep into contract talks with the Lions and thought they were going well, but he denied reports he had told people going to Detroit was a “done deal.” He also said he knew the Lions had another deal going with another player.
The Ann Arbor News reported Wednesday that the Lions have contract terms finalized with Curry.
The News reported the Lions will not allow a decision to go beyond Friday and if a deal isn’t done with Stafford by then, the team will sign Curry and take him with the first overall draft pick.
KEEPING UP WITH AARON CURRY
All through the last few weeks, Curry has been talking with SI.com and doing a draft diary. His final installment went up on Wednesday and included these passages:
After that I went to Kansas City to meet with the Chiefs. I enjoyed my dinner with general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley. The next day they were in minicamp, so I didn’t get to do much, although I did meet with the VP of scouting and the director of scouting. I was also able to sit down with my old high school teammate DeMarcus Tyler and just talk about life and some of his NFL experiences. He was a year ahead of me, but we were good friends in high school, and we’d talk every now and then and he’d keep me updated about his life and what it’s like to be in the NFL. He was telling me everything’s going to happen fast and that reliability and responsibility are so important in the NFL. I’m going to heed his advice …
Detroit and Kansas City probably seemed more real than the others because in Detroit I can play middle linebacker and in Kansas City I would be back with DeMarcus Tyler. It would be so much fun flying around together and making plays together. He told me it was a great city and the fans were awesome there because they’re never disappointing
If you want to read the whole diary entry, click here.
ANOTHER FIRED MEMBER OF THE CHIEFS GETS CLAIMED ON WAIVERS
Last week it was WR Will Franklin who was released by the Chiefs and claimed the next day by the Detroit Lions.
This week, it was OT Andrew Carnahan. Released on Tuesday by the Chiefs, he was claimed off the waiver wire by the New York Jets Giants. Carnahan never got on the field for the Chiefs last year, after he was signed off the Jacksonville practice squad near mid-season. During last weekend’s mini-camp, he was the No. 2 left tackle.Â