The biggest signature of the John Dorsey-Andy Reid era in Kansas City was the lack of signature, a steady presence with the Chiefs managing to overachieve but never becoming a flashy team. That was supposed to continue into 2017, but with the Chiefs firing GM Dorsey on Thursday, there are suddenly a lot of questions about what became a very bizarre offseason.
Think about this for a second: a team that has won 12, 11, 9 and 10 games in the past four years just fired its general manager. That's a wild move for a historically steady franchise heading into a stretch of time where it will be making a radical change at quarterback (Patrick Mahomes is the future while Alex Smith heads into his final year), and it's not unfair to wonder if the quarterback situation is at the heart of the most recent change.
It's also not unfair to look at the Chiefs and how things have shaken out this offseason and wonder if the Chiefs are as steady as they seem.
Losing big-name players
The NFL is a business, a lesson that was imparted on Jeremy Maclin in the harshest way possible, when he found out he was being released via his voicemail. But it was still a surprise to see Maclin released by the Chiefs this offseason, even with him coming off a rough season and due a lot of money. Kansas City saw both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce emerge as dangerous weapons during 2016, but there isn't a true No. 1 wideout available for Smith (or Mahomes) moving forward.
The running game got a facelift too, with Jamaal Charles being released after nine years with the Chiefs. His release wasn't a surprise either, given his contract, his age and his lack of production over the past two years. Charles' last 1,000-yard season was in 2014.
This isn't the same exodus as the departure of Maclin, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia -- ironically after Reid was ousted for Chip Kelly -- but it's not entirely dissimilar. The Chiefs are banking on the trio of Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West and Kareem Hunt to continue to handle the load in the running game, while hoping Chris Conley can be their top wideout alongside Hill.
Front office turmoil
Dorsey getting fired is obviously the big headline here, because when a general manager is fired in June, people should take note. This is late in the process to can a guy in charge of shaping the roster, and the Chiefs deciding to move on from Dorsey should be considered concerning, even if it came about as a result of the franchise not wanting to extend Dorsey's contract and the two sides deciding to part ways. (By all indications this was a case of Dorsey being fired, not an amicable parting.)
That wasn't the only change in the front office, however. Chris Ballard left to become the general manager of the Colts and took Kyle Childress with him.
Kansas City lost its director of college scouting when Mike Adams was hired by the Bills for the same position this offseason. Director of pro scouting Will Lewis was not retained this offseason along with Trip MacCracken, the team's director of football administration.
Every team faces changes in the offseason, but the Chiefs have a whole lot of movement in terms of front office people for a team coming off a 12-win season and an AFC West title.
The good news is that the Chiefs still have a strong internal candidate to fill Dorsey's role as GM.
Chiefs have a strong internal candidate for GM in Brett Veach, but I also continue to hear ownership may cast a wide net— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) June 22, 2017
Draft day trade
Even in a vacuum, the decision to trade up and grab Patrick Mahomes in the first round was a bold, headline-grabbing move. Kansas City gave up a future first-round pick to the Bills in order to acquire Mahomes and also sacrificed the opportunity to add a player who can impact the roster immediately with the selection of a would-be franchise quarterback.
Make no mistake: the Chiefs needed to invest in the quarterback position. Alex Smith has a high floor, but he also has a low ceiling. Smith's contract has an easy out after the 2017 season, and it's hard to imagine the Chiefs not taking advantage of the opportunity to get out from Smith's deal.
Unless Smith is Reid's guy and Mahomes was Dorsey's. It's hard to fathom Reid not being on board with Mahomes being drafted -- the Chiefs were successful enough under the combination of Reid and Dorsey that the two would almost have to have been in lockstep on any massive trade involving a quarterback during the draft.
Additionally, read this piece from Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star on the situation, and it doesn't appear to be a situation where Reid was part of forcing Dorsey out in Kansas City. Reid took over personnel decisions in Philadelphia during the end of his run there, but doesn't appear interested in doing so in Kansas City (or doesn't have the opportunity).
Whatever the case, making a massive trade in the draft for a quarterback is a big move. Change is coming at the position at some point in the future, however near. And there won't be a first-round pick available next year either, regardless of whether the Chiefs are a quality football team in 2017.
Take it all in totality and the picture is a team in turmoil: the Chiefs are in the middle of a transition at quarterback, the Chiefs lost two of their biggest-name free agents, and the Chiefs just fired their GM in June.
We look at this team as a steady franchise and Vegas even pegged their over/under for wins in 2017 at nine. They're the second favorite to win the West this year behind the Raiders. People are pegging them to win double-digit games again, for the fourth time in five years under Reid.
But for as good as the Chiefs have been, as as typically calm the franchise appears, there is plenty of concern when you look at the big picture.