Offseason progress reports: Kansas City Chiefs

It's too early for '09 season previews, and too late for '08 season reviews. What's an NFL blog to do in the never-ending quest to overcover the bejeezus out of the NFL? Offseason progress reports. Let's go in alphabetical order. Today, the Kansas City Chiefs.

Free agents gained: LB Monty Beisel(notes), WR Terrance Copper(notes), TE Tony Curtis(notes), CB Travis Daniels(notes), WR Bobby Engram(notes), C Eric Ghiaciuc(notes), G Mike Goff(notes), WR C.J. Jones(notes), LB Corey Mays(notes), LS Tanner Purdum, LB Darrell Robertson(notes), TE Sean Ryan(notes), LB Zach Thomas(notes), WR Rodney Wright(notes)

Free agents lost: OT Andre Carnahan, C Jean-Philippe Darche(notes), LB Donnie Edwards(notes), WR Will Franklin(notes), LB Curtis Gatewood(notes), QB Quinn Gray(notes), CB Jason Horton(notes), QB Damon Huard(notes), DE Brian Johnston(notes), G Adrian Jones(notes), CB David Macklin(notes), TE Michael Merritt(notes), WR Kevin Robinson(notes), CB Patrick Surtain(notes), LB Pat Thomas(notes)

Acquired via trade: QB Matt Cassel(notes), LB Mike Vrabel(notes)

Lost via trade: TE Tony Gonzalez(notes)

Drafted: DE Tyson Jackson(notes), DT Alex Magee(notes), CB Donald Washington(notes), OL Colin Brown(notes), WR Quinten Lawrence(notes), RB Javarris Williams(notes), WR Jake O'Connell(notes), K Ryan Succop(notes)

Obviously, history is the ultimate judge of these things, but you could make an argument that the Chiefs have just had one of the best offseasons of all-time.

How so? Well, who are the two most important people to a franchise's success? I'd go with the quarterback and whoever's making the decisions about personnel. The Chiefs, hopefully, have picked up long-term solutions at both positions.

Obviously, they think Matt Cassel is that guy at quarterback, or they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of trading for him and paying him the unholy salary he's due this year. Having only been a starter for a year, though, Cassel's still got a lot of things to prove; tops on that list being that his success was a product of his own ability, not the coaching and supporting task he had in New England.

But if there's anyone who would know where Cassel's success came from, it would be Pioli. He was in New England with Bill Belichick since 2000, helping to put together those amazing rosters that made the Patriots the team of the decade. He knows Cassel, he knows what was around him in New England, and he knows exactly what he's capable of.

It's what Pioli's capable of, though, that might be the biggest factor in the Chiefs' long-term success. You look at what he did this offseason with the Chiefs, and it fits the profile of what he did for so long with the Patriots. Cheap veterans who have proven that they can play in the league, along with a bunch of under-the-radar younger guys who could find a niche.

Maybe they took a short-term step backwards when they let go of guys like Tony Gonzalez and Pat Surtain, but you know that Pioli's got a plan. He's going to build a roster that's young, capable, not terribly expensive, and that has a core that can stay together for a long time. We're seeing the start of that in Kansas City right now.

Progress: The progress the Chiefs have made this offseason might not fully translate to the field in 2009, but I'd say they look be in good shape for 2010 and beyond. I wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing results even sooner than that, though. If I had to bet on anyone to make a run at the Chargers in the AFC West, I'd look here before I looked to Oakland or Denver.

Plus four games. 2-14 last year, 6-10 this year.

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