KANSAS CITY -- With a veteran-laden roster led by one of the NFL's most successful head coaches, the Kansas City Chiefs prepared for an offseason filled with talk of a Super Bowl run in 2017 and redemption from a disappointing playoff loss.
No one expected the drama and turmoil that would engulf the team this summer, a soap opera more fitting for a losing franchise than a team coming off a 12-4 season and AFC West championship.
The Chiefs first players arrive for training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., July 24 with more questions than answers, and almost all of them focusing on off the field turmoil.
The first order of business is introducing new general Brett Veach. The 39-year-old former assistant to head coach Andy Reid takes the reins from general manager John Dorsey. The team ended its relationship with Dorsey June 22, less than an hour after the team announced a new contract extension for head coach Andy Reid.
The opening of camp marks the first time team CEO Clark Hunt and Reid will address Dorsey's departure and Veach's promotion from co-director of player personnel. The organization's radio silence has left fans - as well as players and coaches - with questions and concerns at time when the team expected a triumphant opening to the new season.
Veach vows to keep the train moving that Reid and Dorsey put together during the last four seasons in Kansas City.
"Over the last four seasons, I've had the privilege to work alongside Andy Reid, John Dorsey and a great group of coaches and personnel staff," Veach said in a statement. "Together, we built a strong foundation of players that have helped us sustain success on the field. I'm looking forward to continuing our progress as we head into 2017."
Kansas City's roller-coaster offseason featured many highs, including an 11th-hour contract extension for veteran safety Eric Berry and a bold move in the first round of the NFL draft to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes at No. 10 overall. It also included the departures of the team's all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles and defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
Then came the stunning release of veteran wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on June 2, followed less than three weeks later by Dorsey's departure.
Hunt did not elaborate in his statement on Dorsey's termination.
"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 statement.
Following the opening day press conferences, Reid wants to turn focus back toward the field.
"Getting them into football shape would always be that," Reid said about his No. 1 goal for training camp. "Then taking our game up a notch here. We've done okay the last few years, but never satisfied with that at all."
The organization needs to turn its focus to the field quickly. The Chiefs open up the NFL season with a daunting Thursday night opener at New England that can set the tone for the entire season.
"So you got to get in, you've got to prepare yourself, you've got to come out, you've got to be ready to go," Reid said. "It's against good competition, national TV, all those things are positives."
Reid believes starting the season immediately provides an advantage in helping to get the attention of players.
"There's no time to just go, 'I'm going to back off here for a couple of days and relax,'" Reid explained. "That's not how this rolls."
Cornerback Marcus Peters said the team has one goal this season.
"We got a mentality, man, we're trying to win a Super Bowl," Peters said.
TOP THREE TRAINING CAMP GOALS
--Establish a receiver rotation without Jeremy Maclin. The surprising release of Maclin during offseason workouts leaves the Chiefs without a veteran presence among their receiving corps. The group may be lean on experience but is long on athleticism. Tyreek Hill showed explosive play-making ability a year ago, and quarterback Alex Smith says his route running is much improved. Third-year receiver Chris Conley shoulders the leadership role. The team needs more consistency from veterans Albert Wilson and De'Anthony Thomas. Young receivers Demarcus Robinson and Seantavius Jones also need to show they can contribute.
--Shore up the run defense. Kansas City's defense held Pittsburgh without a touchdown in January's divisional playoff loss, largely because the Steelers gouged the Chiefs for 171 yards on the ground. The team's defense ranked 26th against the run last year, the biggest blemish for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's bend-but-don't-break defense. The team hopes the addition of defensive tackle Bennie Logan provides improved run-stuffing abilities up front, but the Chiefs need their linebacker unit to make a significant upgrade in 2017.
--Develop quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes may not play a snap in 2017, but his internship under the combination of head coach Andy Reid and veteran quarterback Alex Smith should prove critical to the franchise's future. Former general manager John Dorsey made a significant investment in Mahomes, including next year's first-round draft pick. The Chiefs haven't drafted a quarterback who won a game for the franchise since Todd Blackledge in 1983. The team's fans are hungry for a franchise quarterback to call their own, and Mahomes expects to face pressure from day one, even if he's not on the field this season.
PROJECTED CAMP DEPTH CHART
QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Alex Smith. Backups - Tyler Bray, Patrick Mahomes, Joel Stave.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Travis Kelce. Backups - Demetrius Harris, Gavin Escobar, Ross Travis, Orson Charles, Emanuel Byrd.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, Albert Wilson. Backups - De'Anthony Thomas, Demarcus Robinson, Seantavius Jones, Jehu Chesson, Alonzo Moore, Gehrig Dieter, Marcus Kemp, Tevin Jones, Tony Stevens.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - LT Eric Fisher, LG Zach Fulton, C Mitch Morse, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitchell Schwartz. Backups - LG Parker Ehinger, T Jah Reid, T Bryan Witzmann, G Mike Person, G Jordan Devey, G Joseph Cheek, G Damien Mama, T Josh James, G Andrew Tiller, T Donald Hawkins, T Isaiah Battle.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters - DLE Allen Bailey, NT Bennie Logan, DRE Chris Jones. Backups - DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DE Jarvis Jenkins, DT Cam Thomas, DT Montori Hughes, DE David King, DE Ricky Ali'fua.
LINEBACKERS: Starters - LOLB Justin Houston, WILB Derrick Johnson, SILB Ramik Wilson, ROLB Dee Ford. Backups - OLB Tamba Hali, ILB Justin March-Lillard, OLB Frank Zombo, ILB D.J. Alexander, ILB Ukeme Eligwe, ILB Josh Mauga, OLB Dadi Nicolas, OLB Marcus Rush, ILB Terrance Smith, OLB Earl Okine, OLB Reshard Cliett.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Marcus Peters, RCB Steven Nelson, FS Ron Parker, SS Eric Berry. Backups - SS Daniel Sorensen, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Phillip Gaines, S Eric Murray, DB Leon McQuay. CB Kenneth Acker, CB D.J. White, CB De'Vante Bausby, S Jordan Sterns, S Steven Terrell, CB Ashton Lampkin, CB J.R. Nelson, CB Keith Baxter, S Trevon Hartfield.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Cairo Santos, P Dustin Colquitt, LS James Winchester, KOR/PR Tyreek Hill.