A challenging new chapter in the annals of Chiefs history will begin Monday during the first of this year’s six OTAs, as Kansas City sets out to find a replacement for Pro Bowl TE Tony Gonzalez.
In Atlanta, Gonzo has become the talk of the town and generated a buzz of optimism with regard to the Falcons’ possible return to the NFL’s post-season stage. While in K.C., without question the bar has been set significantly lower. Expectations, if there are any at all, focus partly on the Chiefs quest to find a player capable of filling the void created by Gonzalez’s departure. The leading TE contender for the Red and Gold is second year pro Brad Cottam.
Cottam, was selected by the Chiefs in the third round of the 2008 draft, he offers tantalizing size (6-7 269) to the position and seems to have a clear understanding of the daunting task that awaits him,
“The door is open for me and I’m working hard to be the first one through. There’s an opportunity there for me”
Regardless of the level of enthusiasm expressed by Cottam, he remains grossly inexperienced (7 NFL starts), more recognized as a dominant blocker rather than a pass catching threat (7 catches in 2008), and is shadowed by concerns over his past history of injuries. Cottam might in fact be the first one through that open door of opportunity, but not necessarily the only one.
Aside from Cottam, the Chiefs will also be introducing a quartet of tight ends that might be more recognizable as journeymen and “camp bodies” than actual contenders for either the starting position or as a quality backup; Tony Curtis, Sean Ryan, seventh round pick Jake O’Connell and long snapper/tight end Thomas Gafford.
Given the Chiefs current cap surplus of just over $31 million, it would only make sense for Kansas City to secure the services of another viable candidate to compete for the tight end position.
Could that someone be New England Patriots TE Benjamin Watson?
In stark contrast to the Chiefs dilemma at the tight end position, the folks in Foxborough are dealing with what appears to be just the opposite, a logjam of talent. Along with last season’s starters Watson and David Thomas, the Patriots have added free agent TE Chris Baker (Jets) and Alex Smith (Bucs).
Baker was acquired in free agency and signed to a five-year deal worth $14.4 million, while New England’s investment in Smith required parting ways with a 2010 5th round pick. All in all, Bill Belichick has made it crystal clear he intends to upgrade the Pats tight end spot.
By unloading the five-year veteran and former first round draft pick, the Patriots would see a cap savings of roughly $449,000. An additional benefit would be realized with the thinning out the over stocked ranks at the position. This process can be accomplished with the outright releasing of Watson at most any given time, or the Pats could look to cash in on the Chiefs situation by offering Watson in a trade.
A healthy starting point in the compensation proceedings would be with an offer by the Chiefs of their 2010 5th round pick. The Patriots themselves, with the Alex Smith trade, have already established value precedence. Given the amicable relationship between New England’s Belichick and Kansas City’s GM Scott Pioli and the two teams’ established trade history, such a deal should get done.