If general manager Scott Pioli is simply sticking to a tried-and-true Patriot Way-stricken plan, then let me be the first to say the outline is utterly unidentifiable.
Because it's hard to imagine the Kansas City Chiefs as an on-field improvement in 2012 without wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and cornerback Brandon Carr aiding the surge.
With NFL free-agency set to begin in less than a month, that nightmare is slowly becoming a bleak reality.
The mere flirtation with losing two respective cornerstone pieces on both offense and defense is lunacy alone, right? What's sickening is that it looks as if Pioli is for real.
Not offering Bowe a long-term deal makes sense. He's had his share of off-the-field issues, and no one is quite sure how he'll respond a year removed from former head coach Todd Haley's ousting.
Carr is a different story altogether. He's 25, coming off a breakout year, and by all accounts has been every bit of what Pioli describes when speaking of the "right 53".
Carr also may be the Chiefs best corner, which is likely one of the issues at hand. The consensus is Carr's counterpart, Brandon Flowers, has been the team's best defensive back since 2008, the year they were each drafted — Flowers in the second round, Carr in the sixth.
Regardless of your opinion of the two, if Pioli gives in and pays Carr number-one cornerback type-money, Flowers, who signed a five-year, $50-million contract this past year, will likely ask for a pay raise.
It's a problem Pioli would like to avoid.
It's a problem Pioli should choose over the possibility of losing a vital part of a rapidly improving defense.
Word is, former Raider cornerback Stanford Routt is in town. Maybe the Chiefs are posturing. Or maybe they're looking for a cheaper alternative.
Here's what we know. With the new "rollover" salary-cap agreement in place, the Chiefs will lead all NFL franchises with over $60-million to spend under the cap in 2012. If there was ever a time when operating on the cheap could be defined as nothing more than an embarrassingly sad cop-out, that time is now.
If Pioli's sacred "plan" still includes Matt Cassel, expecting any considerable improvement from the quarterback would surely have to include his favorite weapon, Bowe.
The defense is seemingly on the brink of being considered amongst the league's best — a status of some necessity considering the aforementioned situation at quarterback. Losing Carr would only put that progress in jeopardy.
Placing the franchise-tag on Carr is an option, but would be better suited for Bowe, whom presumably presents a bigger risk when dealing with a big-money, long-term contract.
Here's the kicker: Losing either player goes against Pioli's mantra of rewarding in-house players who perform beyond expectation. Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Flowers all received long-term deals to stay in Kansas City after proving their respective worth.
See, none of this makes sense. Allowing either player to walk would be virtually indefensible. This can't be the plan.
Would Pioli have to overpay to keep Bowe? Maybe. Carr? Probably.
But wasn't the point of saving money the past few years (the Chiefs have spent the least amount of money against the salary-cap since Pioli arrived in KC) to eventually take a calculated risk here or there, when the time is right?
The bigger risk for Pioli would be alienating a fan base even further by letting two talented, in-their-prime players walk while sitting on a pile of money too high to see the top.
The clock is ticking.