Chiefs, GM Pioli part ways after four seasons
Pioli and the team "mutually parted ways," the Chiefs said in a statement Friday. The decision came after four tumultuous seasons marked by poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves, failed coaching hires and a growing fan rebellion.
"I truly apologize for not getting the job done," Pioli said.
The Chiefs fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday after finishing 2-14, matching the worst record in their 53-year history. Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said other changes could be made, and indicated that Pioli's future could be determined by their next coach.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press the team is nearing a deal with Reid, who was fired after 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The person spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing. It is believed that Reid would prefer to work with his own general manager.
"After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities," Hunt said in a statement Friday.
"This was a difficult decision for Scott as well," Hunt said. "He has a great deal of appreciation for the history of this franchise, for our players, coaches and employees, and especially our great fans."
Kansas City will have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl, there are certainly pieces in place for the Chiefs to make rapid improvement.
But most of those Pro Bowl players were drafted by Pioli's predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact talent, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.
Numerous longtime staff members were fired upon Pioli's arrival, and his inability to connect with fans resulted in unrest unlike anything the franchise has known. Some of them even paid for banners to be towed behind planes before home games asking that he be fired.
Those fans finally got their wish.
The biggest reason ultimately wasn't the banners and posters, but by the performance of the Chiefs. And that was a reflection of the roster Pioli assembled, one that looked good on paper but not on the field.
Things were no better away from the field, either.
On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. He then drove to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.
After thanking the three of them for giving him a chance in the NFL, Belcher turned around in the parking lot, kneeled down and shot himself in the head.
Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since then but issued a statement Friday in which he thanked the organization for giving him an opportunity to be its GM.
"The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do," Pioli said. "To the Hunt family -- to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs -- to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done."
Pioli often spoke of putting together "the right 53," but he routinely failed to do so.
His biggest move upon being hired was trading for Patriots backup Matt Cassel and then giving him a $63 million, six-year deal. Cassel went to the Pro Bowl in 2010, when the Chiefs won a surprising AFC West title, but he struggled so mightily that he was benched this season.
Many of Pioli's moves in free agency also backfired.
Tight end Kevin Boss sustained a season-ending head injury in Week 2, running back Peyton Hillis was a shadow of his former self, right tackle Eric Winston got into a messy situation by calling out Chiefs fans during an early season loss, and cornerback Stanford Routt was cut under mysterious circumstances despite signing an $18 million, three-year contract.
One of his biggest shortcomings was in the draft.
He wasted the third overall pick in 2009 on defensive end Tyson Jackson, who has struggled to become an every-down player. The only other player who has made a contribution from Pioli's first draft has been kicker Ryan Succop, their seventh-round selection.
Pioli fared better in 2010, when he nabbed Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the first round, but the past two years have been a disappointment. Wide receiver Jon Baldwin, his first-round pick in 2011, has barely made an impact, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe -- the 11th overall pick last April -- failed to make the kind of impression the Chiefs had hoped.
Pioli didn't fare much better when it came to coaches.
He fired Herm Edwards soon after he was hired and chose Todd Haley as the replacement, but their relationship was strained from the start. Haley was fired last December and Crennel made the interim coach, and then Pioli made the move permanent a few weeks after the season ended.
While beloved and respected by his players, Crennel struggled in his second stint as a head coach, and was dismissed after a 2-14 finish -- only the third time in team history the Chiefs failed to win at least three games in a season.
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