Scott Pioli doesn't reveal much, but this was clear: He won't be bullied
Other than a message that seemed sharpened, pointed and fired toward a cluster of disenfranchised veterans, the NFL draft news conference Thursday featuring Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley was a tame one.
There was talk of a possible trade, although Pioli made it clear that a trade out of Kansas City's No. 3 overall slot might not happen, either. The Chiefs might try to pick up an additional first-day draft choice, but then that might not happen, either.
No surprises there, at least when it came to Pioli and Haley protecting their plans entering what could be the Chiefs' most pivotal draft in two decades. The surprise, if there was one, came toward the end, when Pioli projected a message clearly aimed at the three veteran players who have requested trades out of Kansas City: It's not their decision, and no amount of public bickering will change that.
"It's not up to the players," Pioli said.
At different points this offseason and for various reasons, three of the Chiefs' best players have asked to leave Kansas City or admitted that they're not comfortable here. Running back Larry Johnson has said he wants out, and guard Brian Waters reportedly has told the Chiefs the same, and tight end Tony Gonzalez hasn't publicly declared that he wants to spend the 2009 season with the Chiefs.
During a news conference in which Pioli and Haley suggested that they wanted to assemble the Chiefs from players who wanted to play in Kansas City, Pioli indicated that the disgruntled veterans wouldn't be used as more powerful bargaining chips just because they'd asked to depart the Chiefs.
Pioli's message was sharp, but it also was veiled. There was something that the general manager wanted the team's roster to hear: No individual is untouchable, and no amount of past influence or number of Pro Bowls is enough to force Pioli into a decision.
Neither Haley nor Pioli mentioned Gonzalez, Johnson or Waters by name. They did mention offseason acquisitions Matt Cassel, Mike Vrabel, Bobby Engram and Zach Thomas as examples of players who fit the Pioli-Haley mold.
Pioli said he respects players who work hard, particularly those who have spent time "making themselves into a player," and Haley mentioned Thomas as an example of that kind of player.
They might also have been talking about prospects such as tackles Eugene Monroe and Jason Smith or linebacker Aaron Curry, who are likely draft candidates if the Chiefs stick with the No. 3 pick. All three of those players has built themselves into elite prospects after humble beginnings. Pioli wouldn't say which player -- or any player -- he might be considering, citing the Chiefs' many needs.
It's still possible, of course, that one of the Chiefs' veterans could be traded for additional picks in the next nine days. Each player's value is debatable, and none would be likely to grant Kansas City an additional first-round choice, unless there was some package that the Chiefs might consider.
Either way, Pioli sent his message Thursday, and he made it clear that, whether the Chiefs' new decision-makers have handled things well or poorly, they're handling things their way -- and without being bullied.
This is what I have to say:
It is worrying or at least WAS worrying that 3 great players requested a trade at some point of time, one of them being Tony Gonzalez. One thing that I have found odd about the NFL and trades is that a lot of the time (mostly for younger players) they have no say in which way the trade goes!
IMO it isn't entirely true that Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson and Brian Waters all didn't requested to be traded so intensely and definitely. Not as intensely and definitely as the media claim anyway.
Although the writer of the report that I'M writing about says that at least one of the three veterans is still vulnerable to a trade. I disagree. I think that since the draft is so near, Pioli and Haley will have a lot more to think about than trades. (There has been a lot of time for trades anyway, why should it happen now when it's this late in the off-season, compared to the draft?)
IMO Todd Haley and Scott Pioli have handled things very well this off-season and am 100% happy with their all the players we have picked up along the way. GO CHIEFS!!!!