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Pioli Addresses Free Agency, Backup QB Competition

Posted Aug 10, 2011

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli encouraged by free agency efforts to date, but isn't done adding players

ST. JOSEPH, MO – Though the initial wave of free agency appears to be slowing, there are still more than 100 unrestricted free agents awaiting contracts. The group includes a number of significant contributors from 2010.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has signed nearly four dozen players since the NFL Lockout lifted, but said today that the Chiefs aren’t done adding players.

“I think we’re encouraged because we’ve brought in some players that fit our system, not only philosophically and scheme-wise, but makeup wise,” Pioli said. “And we’re not done; we won’t be done in September either, we won’t be done in October or November.”

Thus far, the Chiefs have signed 12 unrestricted free agents since NFL free agency opened July 29th, addressing several areas of need. NT Kelly Gregg, FB Le’Ron McClain and WR Steve Breaston have highlighted some of Kansas City’s key external additions.

In addition, the Chiefs also re-signed four restricted free agents and inked franchise player Tamba Hali to a long-term deal.

 “I don’t know if pleased is the word,” Pioli said. “We’re encouraged.”

The preseason opens Friday evening vs. Tampa Bay, but the Chiefs still have the roster space to bring in players without having to make any cuts. Kansas City’s roster currently sits at 85, leaving room to sign up to five more players before maxing out the training camp roster.

 “I wouldn’t say there is a priority; the priority is always to get players that are better or to get players that will improve our situation,” Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said. “That can be due to natural attrition, if there’s an injury, to upgrade at that point in time, but we’re not focused in on any one position or on any one situation.”

The fast paced environment has created an unprecedented start to training camp where free agency didn’t officially open until after the Chiefs had completed two days of practices. Because of that, over a quarter of the Chiefs roster will have had only one week of practice prior to kicking off Friday night.

Up until last Thursday, the Chiefs practiced with just 61 players.

“I think it was an awkward start just in terms of logistics and just trying to get everything organized and understanding what we could do, what we couldn’t do, not having everybody at once at the beginning part, but it looks like we’re finally into what appears to be a normal group in terms of training camp,” said Pioli.

Pioli also touched on one of training camp’s hot topics thus far – the Chiefs backup quarterback situation.

Tyler Palko and rookie Ricky Stanzi are currently battling for the job, leaving the Chiefs without an experienced presence behind starter Matt Cassel. Despite entering the league in 2007, Palko didn’t attempt his first NFL pass until late last season.

“I think we’re going to see good competition,” Pioli said. “We’ll let you know probably a little bit more when we actually see the situation this weekend and the coming weeks. I think we have two good players that are going to be competing really hard to be the backup guy.”

The lack of an experienced backup is something new to Chiefs fans. The position has historically been occupied by a player with previous starting experience dating back to the early 1990s.

Brodie Croyle, a starter in 2007 and 2008, served as the backup quarterback each of the last two seasons. The long list of veterans to precede Croyle includes Damon Huard, Todd Collins, Warren Moon, Rich Gannon, Steve Bono and Dave Krieg.

“There’s been times I’ve been in situations and I think there’s been times Todd (Haley) has been in situations where sometimes it’s a veteran, sometimes it’s a young guy, and you figure it out and you get to a point and if you feel comfortable you stick with where you are,” Pioli said. “If you’re not comfortable then you have to make a change. We’ll know more, it’s still early to tell, but right now I think we’re comfortable because we know we have two good players that are going to compete and play well.”

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