Offseason Blueprint: Kansas City Chiefs

Notable Free Agents: Jason Babin, DE; Rocky Boiman, LB; Oliver Celestin, FS.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $33,000,000

Draft Order: 3

Top Needs: The Chiefs have a variety of holes to fill this offseason, from the interior of their offensive line, to linebacker to safety and No. 2 wide receiver.

Offseason Outlook: Despite the lack of overall roster talent, the Chiefs aren’t a bad situation to walk into for new GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley. The team has plenty of cap space, a high draft pick and not one marquee free agent to re-sign. Pioli is essentially working with a clean slate to begin his era in Kansas City.

That said, there are some underlining issues on the horizon. Tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Larry Johnson, two players who will be counted on to spark the revival in Kansas City, have both expressed a desire to be traded this offseason. Gonzalez has wavered a bit in his demands, but it’s clear that LJ wants out of KC and maybe Pioli will grant his wish as long as the Chiefs can land proper compensation for the star back.

Another area Pioli might address is at quarterback, where incumbent Tyler Thigpen played well enough in the second half of the season to merit a crack at the starting spot, but probably isn’t the long-term answer. Considering Pioli is coming over from New England, he could look into what it would take to acquire Matt Cassel. Don’t count on it though. KC has the No. 3 overall pick and certainly won’t part with that high of a pick for Cassel, especially when you consider he might have been a product of the Patriots’ outstanding offensive system. Don’t be surprised if Thigpen is the Chiefs’ starter under center again next year.

The Chiefs could stand an upgrade at center and right guard. Rudy Niswanger was the team’s starter last year at center, but given his size, he could easily move to right guard and then KC could look to sign one of the many free agent centers that are available this offseason including Matt Birk (Vikings), Brad Meester (Jaguars), Eric Ghiaciuc (Bengals) and Jason Brown (Ravens).

Defensively, Jason Babin surprised folks last year with his steady play at right defensive end, but he’s a free agent and if Pioli sees an upgrade available either in free agency or the draft, he’ll likely jump on it. It’s doubtful that Pioli goes after a marquee name like Julius Peppers to fill the void, but the position will no doubt be addressed this offseason.

At linebacker, Derrick Johnson is a stud on the strong-side, but the Chiefs are in desperate need to upgrade the other two spots. The team signed Demorrio Williams to fill the weak-side position last year, but he’s more of a situational pass-rusher at best and probably isn’t an every down player. In the middle, Pat Thomas missed time last year due to injuries and isn’t the type of run-stuffer the Chiefs are going to need moving forward.

Given their needs at linebacker, KC could use its first round pick on Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry, who is talented enough to play either outside or in the middle. He would be a nice compliment to Johnson and would add some athleticism on that side of the ball for KC, who has still yet to hire a defensive coordinator. But it’s worth noting that both the Lions and Rams (who pick ahead of the Chiefs) will take a strong look at Curry, too.

If the Lions pass on Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, KC could be a landing spot for him at No. 3. Pundits seem to believe the notion that since Tom Brady was a seventh round pick, that anyone that comes from the New England front office (i.e. Pioli) will pass on the opportunity to draft a quarterback high in the first round. But Falcons’ GM Thomas Dimitroff (who cut his teeth in the Patriots’ front office) bucked that trend by taking Matt Ryan with the third overall pick last year. So if Pioli feels that Stafford is a franchise-type quarterback, don’t be surprised if the Chiefs selected him if Detroit passes.

The Chiefs could also use an upgrade at safety and wide receiver, but given their other needs and lack of quality safeties on the market, it’s doubtful that Pioli will turn heads filling either position this offseason.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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