Cassel Signing Proves Pioli's Power

Justin Olson - WPI

Lost in the midst of the constant questioning over when Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli would sign Matt Cassel was how much it would cost him.

Consider that the NFL's best quarterback, Tom Brady, has an average salary of $11.4 million. Cassel's six-year deal will pay him a reported $63 million and earn him roughly $10.5 million per season. A large portion of that money is upfront and word is that over $40 million of the contract will be earned in the first three years.

Not bad for a quarterback with almost no experience whatsoever before last season. Without Brady's injury on opening day a year ago, Cassel might have been cut in the offseason. Nothing is as unpredictable as the NFL.

This was Pioli's first big negotiation as a Chief and was key in establishing a line in the sand with players and agents. The Patriot way is unique in that they want a well-rounded roster and won't be held hostage by paying one or two players too much money.

Cassel could have earned more if he had refused overtures for a long-term contract before the deadline passed for franchise tagged players. He was set to earn over $14 million this year and likely headed to a 2010 franchise tag number somewhere in the neighborhood of $16 million or more.

Instead, he wanted financial security, and found it as Pioli established a base line for the way he'll get contracts done in Kansas City.

We still have no idea what kind of GM Pioli will become in Kansas City, but there isn't anyone who can argue he doesn't know the ins and outs of this game. As Carl Peterson's successor, he does have some big shoes to fill.

Peterson had his detractors, but he was all about maintaining the bottom line for the Hunt family and making sure the fans of Kansas City were a part of the process on game days. Pioli can't lose sight of that in the early stages of his tenure. Signing Cassel is a start.

That may not seem like a big deal, but Pioli's locked down Arrowhead is something that will only work if the team wins. This market is small and there are not 40 media members clamoring to cover the Chiefs as was the case in Boston with the Patriots. In other words, everyone is watching what he's doing from a distance so opinions will vary as to his degree of success or his failures.

But we have to give him major props for not overpaying Cassel and taking control of this situation. He could have been held hostage by Cassel's agent and this entire process could have drug out past the deadline. But it didn't, because getting Cassel signed was in the best interest of the future of the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was also in the best interests of Pioli, who can now focus on getting his top draft picks signed before the team departs for River Falls later this month.

Say what you want about the new regime in Kansas City but there isn't any question as to who is in control and in charge. This is why Chairman of the Board Clark Hunt had only one real candidate to take over for Peterson.

This is why he has entrusted Pioli to restore his franchise. He understands what it takes to build a 53-man roster capable of winning a Super Bowl. And Hunt knows that Pioli will build it within financial constraints that will ensure a longer championship run when the Chiefs reach the top again.

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