Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt maintained for months he was pleased with the job done by coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey the last four years, and that he would discuss contract extensions with the two this summer.
Summer has arrived, but only Reid will remain with the team.
The Chiefs announced Thursday afternoon that Reid signed an extension, but Dorsey is no longer with the team, effective immediately.
“I notified John that we would not be extending his contract beyond the 2017 season, and after consideration, we felt it was in his best interests and the best interests of the team to part ways now,” Hunt said in a release announcing Dorsey’s departure, which was sent about a half-hour after the Chiefs announced Reid’s contract extension. The original five-year contracts for Reid and Dorsey were set to expire after this season.
“This decision, while a difficult one, allows John to pursue other opportunities as we continue our preparations for the upcoming season and the seasons to come. My family and I sincerely appreciate John’s work over the last four-and-a-half years, and we wish him nothing but the best in the future.”
Hunt said in a letter to season-ticket holders, however, that his decision came after “thorough examination of the entire football operation.”
“I felt it was best to make a change,” Hunt wrote in the letter.
Since Dorsey and Reid arrived after the disastrous 2012 season, in which the Chiefs went 2-14, the Chiefs have posted a 43-21 record the last four regular seasons and 1-3 in the postseason, making the playoffs three out of four years and ending the club’s 22-year drought without a playoff victory in January 2016. The Chiefs were 12-4 last season and won the AFC West Division for the first time in the Reid/Dorsey era.
The Chiefs did not disclose the terms of Reid’s new contract, but it will run through the 2021 season, according to USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.
But given the Chiefs’ success, Dorsey’s departure resonated throughout the NFL given his reputation as a strong talent evaluator. This is reflected in his positive draft record the last five years, as the Chiefs rely heavily on a primarily homegrown roster.
“Shocked,” one NFL decision-maker told The Star of the decision. “Top-to-bottom best roster in the league.”
The move also generated internal surprise, according to sources, as the news interrupted the vacations of multiple members of the Chiefs front office during the only down period of the football season.
“It caught everybody off guard,” a source with knowledge of the matter said. “Nobody saw it coming. Nobody knows (what happened) because everybody is out of the building.”
The source said another primary reason for the surprise was that the Chiefs fired Dorsey with a year left on his contract and have to pay him for this season, leading some to believe contract negotiations took a wrong turn.
“It was no secret John was looking for a contract extension,” said the source, who added that people knew Dorsey was looking for a “big” payday. “Now you’re paying him to sit at home.”
Before he was let go, Dorsey took a lead role in safety Eric Berry’s contract extension, in addition to the decision to trade up and select quarterback Patrick Mahomes in the first round of the NFL Draft. Dorsey noted after the draft that he was pleased with where the Chiefs selected Mahomes, at No. 10, ahead of three teams (New Orleans, Arizona and Houston) that had some degree of interest in him.
Given the Chiefs’ recent record, Dorsey might not go without a job long. In January, his name was floated as a potential replacement for Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, who is expected to retire in the near future. Dorsey spent several years as a player and front-office executive in Green Bay before he arrived in Kansas City.
In a Chiefs release announcing the move, Dorsey thanked Hunt for the opportunity to become a general manager.
“I want to thank Clark, the Hunt family and the Chiefs fans for the opportunity to be a part of Chiefs Kingdom over the last four seasons,” Dorsey said in the release. “I believe this team is well positioned for the future and I wish Coach Reid, the players and the entire organization all the best.”
With Dorsey out, the next men in line for a promotion would appear to be Chiefs co-directors of pro personnel, Brett Veach and Mike Borgonzi. The Chiefs could also hire from outside. The new general manager, like Dorsey, will continue to report to Hunt, same as Reid and team president Mark Donovan.
“In the coming weeks, I will conduct a search for the next general manager which will include both internal and external candidates,” Hunt wrote in the letter to season-ticket members. “I believe we have a strong foundation in place and we will continue to work tirelessly to build on the success we’ve sustained over the last four seasons.”
Reid also has experience handling personnel matters — a responsibility he had his last several years in Philadelphia — though has said repeatedly since he arrived in Kansas City that he has no interest in doing that again.
Reid, 59, is entering his 19th season as an NFL head coach, having spent his first 14 years with the Eagles. He is 10th in career wins among NFL coaches. He has never won a Super Bowl as a head coach, however, and has spoken often about how much fun he’s still having as a coach.
The team’s 22-4 record over the past 26 games is the best in the NFL over that span, and the Chiefs have won 11 straight games against AFC West opponents.
“I’d like to thank Clark and the entire Hunt family for the opportunity to continue my coaching career here in Kansas City,” Reid said in a release announcing his contract extension. “We’ve made quite a bit of progress over the last four seasons, but we are not done yet. We are going to continue to work towards our ultimate goal of winning championships.”
Hunt decided that Reid’s presence was necessary to keep that goal alive, especially after the selection of Mahomes in the first round.
“My family and I have been very pleased by the success the franchise has sustained over the last four seasons under Coach Reid,” Hunt said in the release. “He has already established himself as one of the best coaches in the league, and he is well on his way to solidifying a place among the all-time greats. We are proud to have him leading our football team, and I look forward to working with him to bring a championship to Chiefs Kingdom.”