New TE Boss expects Chiefs to compete right away

Even though the Chiefs appear to have fallen out of the running for Peyton Manning, it hasn't stopped them from upgrading a sorely lacking offense.

One day after signing bruising running back Peyton Hillis, Kansas City added veteran tight end Kevin Boss, who spent last season with the AFC West rival Oakland Raiders.

Along with the decision to franchise wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, they're the first two steps toward reworking an offense that managed the second-fewest points in the NFL last season.

"We are excited about the opportunity to make Kevin a member of the Chiefs," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Kevin has been a part of successful teams and knows what it takes to win."

The chance to win is precisely the reason Boss signed with Kansas City.

Boss said during a conference call with reporters Friday that he was intrigued by the young players on offense — among them running back Jamaal Charles and fellow tight end Tony Moeaki — along with a defense that emerged as one of the best in the AFC last season.

"You look down the roster, all the young talent, I'm excited to be part of it," he said. "The defense they have, I had to play against it a couple times last year and we had our hands full."

Often criticized for their frugality, the Chiefs have already opened the checkbook several times this offseason. Hillis will get $3 million for a one-year deal, while Boss signed a $9 million, three-year deal. Bowe's franchise number was about $9.4 million, though Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has expressed interest in signing him to a long-term contract.

The decision to sign Hillis and Boss was made in part because of injuries last season.

Kansas City was exposed for a lack of depth when Charles and Moeaki went down with torn ACLs in their left knees by Week 2 of the regular season. That left aging Thomas Jones and journeyman Jackie Battle to tote the ball and a hodge-podge of tight ends to catch it.

Charles and Moeaki are both expected to take part in offseason conditioning drills and be ready for the start of training camp, but establishing depth was still a priority.

"We felt that signing Kevin continued our free agent plan of adding good players to our roster," Pioli said in a statement issued by the team. "Kevin has a track record of personal and team success in this league and he is a good fit for us."

Boss signed a $16 million, four-year deal with Oakland last summer, but he wasn't utilized as much as he was the previous three years with the New York Giants. He only caught 28 passes for 368 yards and three touchdowns, the lowest production since his rookie season.

Boss said he wasn't concerned about sharing time with Moeaki at tight end in Kansas City, especially given the way Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez worked so well in New England.

"It's one of those things, wherever the coaches fit me in," Boss said. "I'm comfortable doing a lot of different things, played a lot of different roles in New York and Oakland, so wherever I see me playing to my strengths. I'm just excited to be here, to be with Tony."

Kansas City still has holes to fill through free agency or the draft.

The most pressing need is along the offensive line, particularly at right tackle, where Barry Richardson often appeared overmatched. The Chiefs are interested in veteran Eric Winston, who was cut by the Houston Texans, and Geoff Schwartz, who started 16 games two years ago for the Carolina Panthers but missed all of last season with a hip injury.

The Chiefs also want to bring in another quarterback to compete with Matt Cassel, who will be coming back from a season-ending injury to his throwing hand. They've already missed on Kyle Orton and several other veterans, and Manning appears to be the longest of long shots.

Still, count Boss among those optimistic all those holes will be filled.

"We're definitely moving in the right direction," he said. "The talent here is amazing, and you know, young talent. That's something. We've got a lot of things to look forward to in the future, a lot of years to continue to build this team, and we're moving in the right direction."

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