KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt made it clearly immediately in his Monday press conference he would not say anything negative about former general manager John Dorsey — but much of what he did say spoke volumes about why the team parted ways with the architect of a team coming off a 12-4 season and three playoff appearances in four season.
“Over the course of the spring, there were enough issues that popped up that caused me to want to do a full evaluation of the football department before I extended either (head coach) Andy (Reid) or John,” Hunt said. “And in the course of that evaluation I just became concerned about our ability to continue the success we have had the last four years, or better yet to build on that success and have a championship team.”
Reid received his extension, and Dorsey received notice from Hunt that he wouldn’t be back with the Chiefs in 2018.
“What I let John know is that we were not going to be extending his contract and really for his benefit — and for ours once he knew that — he needed to move on,” Hunt said.
Hunt said his evaluation pointed toward no single issue. He indicated his concerns arose before the NFL draft.
“I felt that it was prudent to wait until after the draft to do so,” Hunt said. “Obviously you don’t want a shake up during the draft, so that’s what really led to the timing.”
Yet Hunt also said Dorsey’s job did not hang in the balance during the draft. The general manager orchestrated a bold move to acquire the No. 10 pick in the first round, which the club used to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes. New general manager Brett Veach embraced the move during his introductory press conference. He called Mahomes the best quarterback of this year’s draft class.
“I actually feel like we had a very good draft, so I can’t at all point to the draft as being part of the decision,” Hunt said. “And no, I don’t think we had a lame duck general manager at that time.”
The timing of Hunt’s evaluation and personnel decisions made by the team suggest the situation changed during offseason training activities in June.
The organization announced on May 26 the promotion of Brandt Tillis as the club’s new director of football administration. The move was part of a series of moves in Dorsey’s department, including the hiring of Tim Terry as director of pro personnel. Terry and Dorsey worked together previously with the Green Bay Packers.
Hunt said Dorsey made the decision to promote Tillis, suggested Dorsey remained in control of the player personnel department.
Issues such as the absence of veterans such as Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters from the voluntary sessions dominated OTA practices. The team also made waves with the release of veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
But Hunt avoided naming specific disagreements with Dorsey.
“There’s a lot that goes into managing a personnel department, so I don’t want to single out any one issue that played a role,” he said.
Once Hunt began his evaluation prompted by his concerns this spring, other issues appeared to manifest from the past.
“In the course of that evaluation you learn things that maybe you weren’t aware of a year or two ago that factored into the decision,” Hunt said.
The team CEO’s review found a discrepancy between the club’s quality of personnel management and coaching.
“We just had a situation where I felt that we needed to get better,” Hunt said. “As you know, the NFL’s a very, very competitive business, and in order to build a championship team you have to have a personnel department that’s operating at a very high level.”
Reid decline to indicated if he agreed with Hunt’s assessment of the Dorsey’s job performance. He pointed toward the separation between coaching and personnel created by the club’s organizational structure.
“There’s personnel, there’s the front office and then there is coaching,” Reid said. “That’s one thing I really like. You know where you stand and what you’re responsible for. That’s not my area and I don’t want that to be my area.”
Reid’s relationship with Dorsey stems back to their days in Green Bay, with Reid coaching and Dorsey scouting.
“Obviously, we have been friends for 20 some odd years, but I do understand the personal side and I do understand that there is a professional side to this thing,” Reid said. “It is not going to stop me from being a friend of John’s on that side.”
Hunt dismissed the notion that a contract negotiations between the club and Dorsey caused a rift.
“Not at all,” Dorsey said. “There weren’t any contract negotiations, so there no financial issues.”
And as much Hunt wished to avoid faulting Dorsey, his critique suggested systemic issues at the top of the player personnel department.
“Again I do not want to come back to one specific thing as I want to stay away from the issues that were part of the decision, but I will say that to have a championship team your personnel department needs to be functioning at a very high level,” Hunt said. “The other 31 teams generally have very strong personnel departments and if we are going to build a championship team you have to have a department that is functioning at a very high level.”