Willie Roaf. Nasty as he was known, he was just that. A nasty left tackle and an amazing addition to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002. Willie Roaf, first-round draft pick (eighth overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 1993, Hall of Fame Inductee in 2012, awesome last name for a left tackle and perennial Pro-Bowler.
This week the Chiefs made a big trade for another left tackle in Orlando Brown Jr. The trade with AFC Rival Baltimore Ravens shores up a significant hole in the roster. A trade that cost the Chiefs considerably with draft picks, but has a substantial upside for the once decimated O-Line. A trade that had me thinking about the last time Kansas City made a trade for the left tackle position – the Willie Roaf trade of 2002.
In 2001, Willie sustained a knee injury in what would be his final season with the Saints. He only suited up for seven games and was heading towards the latter part of his playing days. Although Roaf was heading towards 32 years old, then Chiefs GM Carl Peterson and Head Coach Dick Vermeil had insight enough to trade initially a fourth-round pick, later upgraded to a third-round pick, for his services.
What a fantastic trade that was for the Chiefs. Willie performed at such a high level during his four seasons with Chiefs, the Saints must have had thoughts that even netting a third-round pick was low. Willie solidified the left tackle spot on an O-Line with names such as Waters, Wiegman, Shields, and Tait, the best offensive line in Chiefs history.
Now, here we are in the middle of an off-season where PM15 finally stopped running for his life in the Super Bowl just last week. We had the Trent Williams free agency letdown, the will they/won’t they bring back Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz. I still think one of those two guys should return to the Chiefs roster.
We heard names like Okung and Villanueva being tossed around and then a host of considerations for draft options. Trade up, trade back in a deep draft? Do we want a rookie protecting Patrick’s blindside? There was never a doubt that Veach and company were revamping the O-Line this off-season, but up until last week left tackle remained a huge question mark.
Prior to Willie’s arrival in ’02, John Tait held down the left tackle spot for two seasons while right tackle remained a swinging door with Marcus Spears and Victor Riley. In a word, patchwork. Upon arrival, Willie took over the left side moving Tait to the right, and with Tony Richardson at fullback, well, what fun to watch Priest run.
Now, the Brown trade came at a higher cost than the trade for Roaf, with the Chiefs now out of the first round of the draft this week. Additionally, the trade involves the Chiefs picking up the 58th overall pick this year and a 2022 sixth-round pick. The Ravens walk away with the Chiefs’ first-round pick (No. 31), third-round pick (No. 94), and fourth-round pick (No. 136) in addition to a 2022 fifth-rounder. Steep? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.
Willie was on the back end of his career, Orlando is in the last year of his rookie deal at 24-years-old. Other options this off-season were on the other side of 30 years old or involved taking a chance on a rookie. The Brown trade shows tremendous upside, possibly (and hopefully) a young Willie Roaf type of upside.
Roaf was an 11-time pro bowler and helped lead the Chiefs offense to the most points scored in the NFL in 2002 and 2003. Orlando has the potential of a similar career and the Chiefs are getting him 8 years younger than when they acquired Roaf.
Brown already has an impressive resume with two pro bowl appearances and the drive to play left tackle. So much so, that he was outspoken enough to ask for a trade knowing his future on the Ravens. Willie credited his signing with the Chiefs as the reason he was inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame, will Brown think similar after his playing days come to end?
So, the last time the Chiefs made a trade for a left tackle of this significance it solidified one of the best O-Lines in the league in that 2002 season, will the Brown trade pay off in comparable results? We have gone from Nasty to Zeus with hopes our O-Line will see similar results. Imagine, just imagine if these off-season offensive line moves even remotely parallel the line of the Roaf era. If they do, what fun to watch CEH run and watch Patrick stop.