Gonzalez first asked for a trade after being denied an opportunity to break the NFL’s all-time reception record for a tight end in Arrowhead Stadium last season. He remained in Kansas City after the 2008 trade deadline passed, and former general manager Carl Peterson failed to deal Gonzalez for what he considered fair compensation.
Shortly after the season, Gonzalez told reporters that he wasn’t sure if he would again request a trade, and would wait to see if Herm Edwards, tight ends coach Jon Embree, and other members of his coaching staff were retained. Warpaint Illustrated then reported that Gonzalez had all of his personal belongings removed from his locker and shipped to him.
The compensation Kansas City received for Gonzalez was meager for such a decorated, talented, and productive player. Last offseason Jeremy Shockey, coming off a 57-catch, 619-yard, three-touchdown season, was traded from the Giants to the Saints for second- and fifth-round selections in this year’s draft. Gonzalez was traded for a second-round pick in the 2010 draft after catching 96 balls for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.
Shockey is five years younger than Gonzalez, but those numbers hardly add up. Shockey’s career-worst season (50 receptions for 483 yards and zero touchdowns in 2008) is inferior to every year of Gonzalez’s career besides his 1997 rookie campaign. Granted, Shockey was recovering from an injury last season and played in only 12 games, but availability is important, and over the course of Shockey’s seven-year career, he’s never completed 16 games in one season. Gonzalez has started 16 games in a season nine times, including last year at age 33.
Shockey’s best year came in 2005, when he caught 65 balls for 891 yards and seven touchdowns. His numbers have since decreased in every category each season except for receptions and touchdowns in 2006. Gonzalez’s numbers are up in every category since 2005, except yards per catch.
The Roy Williams trade between Dallas and Detroit last season also makes it appear like the Chiefs got the short end of the stick in trading Gonzalez. Williams was sent to Dallas for first-, third-, and sixth-round picks in this weekend’s draft, and a seventh rounder in 2010. Apart from 2006, Williams’ numbers compare more favorably to Jeff Webb’s than they do Gonzalez’s.
WHY DID THEY DO IT?
Why did the Chiefs trade arguably the best player in franchise history, who was still producing at a remarkably high level, for a future second rounder?
1. The Chiefs may have feared a holdout or even a possible retirement if they didn’t grant Gonzalez’s wish for a trade. While it may be hard to believe he would retire in the prime of his career, and squander the possibilities (more records, playoff wins, a Super Bowl), it’s not entirely out of the question. However, it’s unlikely Gonzalez would have jeopardized his remaining career to holdout.
2. Information is still being withheld. Scott Pioli, as evidenced via his deals for Matt Cassel/Mike Vrabel and Randy Moss, usually ends up winning big-time trades. The Gonzalez deal may end up like the Vrabel/Cassel trade, where only part of the deal was initially released, leading fans to believe the Chiefs had only acquired Vrabel, and not Cassel.
3. The Falcons and Chiefs may not be done dealing. Per a league source, Pioli and fellow Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff (a former Patriots executive), may be looking to help each other out. Based on rumblings we're hearing from WFSM in Atlanta, the Chiefs and Falcons may still be working on a deal that could send defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey to Atlanta for the 24th overall and 90th overall selections.