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Old 06-05-2007, 03:57 PM  
The Poz The Poz is offline
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Allen or Johnson? Chiefs may face a choice

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/10213436

Allen or Johnson? Chiefs may face a choice
By Pat Kirwan
NFL.com Senior Analyst

(June 5, 2007) -- There sure are a lot of NFL fans out there that think they know what they would do if they were lucky enough to be in the shoes of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson. The constant intrigue surrounding decisions to be made on Trent Green, Jared Allen and Larry Johnson has most fans scratching their heads, but a few decisions warrant a discussion of the NFL business.

The Trent Green situation will eventually work itself out, and although Green somewhat controls the situation by being willing to go only to the Dolphins, that could change if another team that Green would say yes to gets in the mix. The more intriguing discussions could be about Allen and Johnson.

It should be assumed for the moment that Allen and Johnson both want to be paid at least in the top three of their respective positions, and quite frankly, it wouldn't surprise me if they both were looking for the No. 1 deal at their position. The franchise tag for defensive ends is almost $9 million and the running back tag is close to $7 million. A team can only have one franchised player and it may come down to picking one player over the other to remain a Chief.

Kansas City would love to keep both but it might take so much guaranteed money and such a large percentage of the salary cap that it wouldn't be feasible. Getting out from under Green's contract and going with a young quarterback like Brodie Croyle, who only counts in the salary cap for $531,000, would be one way it could work, but let's go through the drill of choosing one over the other. A decision to pick an elite running back or an excellent pass rusher would make any club think through all the unwritten rules that govern personnel decisions.

Which position is more important? Ask most NFL personnel people to rank the value of positions in the NFL and it usually goes like this: quarterback, pass rusher, blindside tackle, cover corner, wide receiver, linebacker, running back, defensive tackle, safety and tight end. That also happens to correlate with the franchise tag prices that are currently dictating the price of great players. What it really says is that it's harder to find a great pass rusher than it is to find a great running back. But that's before names are attached to the positions. I asked a number of NFL people if that rule applied to the Chargers when the names are LaDainian Tomlinson and Shawne Merriman? The theoretical is a good guideline, but the players are something else altogether. Who was more important to the Giants, Michael Strahan or Tiki Barber? The Denver Broncos might see the pass rusher as more critical and just plug in another running back.

Which player means more to the club? Now it's getting personal, and as Chiefs coach Herm Edwards told me last year, he intends to run the ball 500 times a season -- can't do that without Larry Johnson. In the last two years while making just 25 starts, Johnson touched the ball 826 times for 4,292 yards and 40 touchdowns. In the same two years, Jared Allen accumulated 132 tackles, 18½ sacks, 10 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 15 passes defended. Is it possible to compare those 40 touchdowns against Allen getting the ball back for the offense 12 to 15 times and stopping opponent drives close to 30 times? If the Chiefs can afford only one of the two players, they are going to have to determine which outstanding package of production means the most to them.

What are the chances of replacing the player you pass on? It took drafting Johnson in the first round to secure a running back that could carry the weight of the offense on his shoulders. Allen was drafted in the fourth round, which on the surface might suggest Allen's skills could be found later in the draft. But as one personnel director told me, "Don't count on it." Maybe the difficulty in finding a great pass rusher is the reason the Texans drafted Mario Williams instead of Reggie Bush last year? Only three of the top 10 in rushing yards last year were first-round picks, and while the top two, Tomlinson and Johnson, were first-rounders, the sixth best runner, Willie Parker, wasn't even drafted. As for pass rushers, Merriman led the NFL in sacks and he was a first-round selection. Then again, the Bears got 12 sacks from a rookie fourth-round pick, Mark Anderson.

Which player has a higher risk attached? Johnson may not have significant wear and tear on his body yet because he sat behind Priest Holmes early in his career, but he is 27 years old and a new contract will take him well past his 30th birthday. Allen may be younger by two years and should be able to play out a six-year deal, but he is already serving a four-game suspension and there's always a chance he could slip and make another mistake.

How do you compare production? There is something that makes 40 touchdowns in the past two years sound even better than sacks, forced fumbles, passes defended and interceptions. The truth is if Croyle is to start under center, he doesn't stand a chance of leading the Chiefs to the playoffs without Johnson behind him. The longer I compare the two players, the harder it is to separate them and select one over the other. How do you keep both becomes the only conclusion.

How can you keep both? I once got stuck with our two best players in a similar situation. First we had to create the cap space to operate. The Chiefs have about $8 million in space right now but half of that space will be used for draft picks. So a player like Green and his $7.2 million salary at age 37 is probably a casualty. It's after June 1, which means the Chiefs can put off salary-cap charges on Green until next year. The first step after securing enough space is to sit down with the agents for both players and explain the franchise tag will be used on one of them if they get the other signed. But that can backfire. In my situation, we got one signed and the other was so upset with the franchise tag that we eventually traded him.

This whole business strategy to lock up the best two players on the Chiefs roster is a task not many could achieve. Can a team afford to have two players consume well over 10 percent or maybe even closer to 20 percent of the team's salary cap space? The Colts will have to in order to keep Peyton Manning and Dwight Freeney on the roster.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:04 PM   #2
Marco Polo Marco Polo is offline
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How about we trade both?
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:04 PM   #3
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:07 PM   #4
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Hopefully Turk McBride will make the decision much easier if their hand is forced.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:10 PM   #5
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Nice article.

Good luck, Carl.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:11 PM   #6
Micjones Micjones is offline
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Johnson isn't going anywhere.
Allen, I'm not so sure, but I think Carl can get it done.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:13 PM   #7
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Kind of out of the blue, but a good article. At least he recognizes the importance of Allen and the excellent numbers he has put up; something that a lot of fans on this site are reluctant to do.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:22 PM   #8
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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I think Carl can get the Jared deal done. If not, we at least have him for two more seasons.

I definitely think LJ gets paid.

Both deserve paydays.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:24 PM   #9
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Damn allen is even more of a beast than I thought...good numbers
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:26 PM   #10
CoMoChief CoMoChief is offline
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I say we resign LJ and then trade him to the worst team in the NFL so we can get the #1 pick.

Then we draft RB Darren McFadden who's a mother ****ing badass.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:30 PM   #11
SBK SBK is offline
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If Allen wasn't a lush he'd win out. I think he may have drank his way out of KC if it comes down to this.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:32 PM   #12
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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I'm sorry, but we simply have too much room under the cap to not sign both of them.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:39 PM   #13
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoMoChief
I say we resign LJ and then trade him to the worst team in the NFL so we can get the #1 pick.

Then we draft RB Darren McFadden who's a mother ****ing badass.
we can't sign him and then trade him unless it's done at the time of some kind of trade. The signing bonus pretty much prevents that.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:46 PM   #14
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In principal, I don't think the Chiefs should pay a guy who hasn't even made the Pro Bowl and is one stupid mistake away from missing an entire season to one of the highest contracts at his position, but I know some other team will if we don't do it.
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Old 06-05-2007, 04:48 PM   #15
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Both will play at KC for some time ....
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