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Chatter increases that Pioli could be back in Kansas City

Scott Pioli, Clark Hunt

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, left, talks with Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt prior to an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)


There’s a loose rule in NFL circles that a traditional General Manager gets to hire two coaches before the G.M. ends up on the hot seat. The Bears broke from that loose standard last year, firing G.M. Jerry Angelo before the only coach Angelo ever hired was let go.

The Chiefs could go the other way this time around, giving G.M. Scott Pioli a third chance to hire a new head coach.

The prevailing rumor in league circles is that first-year coach Romeo Crennel will be replaced, but that Pioli will remain. In 2009, Pioli hired Todd Haley to coach the team. Haley was fired during his third season on the job.

No one knows for sure what owner Clark Hunt will do. He was facing unrelenting pressure from fans and local media to clean house earlier this season. The Jovan Belcher tragedy caused much of the outcry to diminish.

If Hunt keeps Pioli, his mandate will be clear: Find a quarterback. With five Pro Bowlers on a two-win team, there’s no lack of talent at other positions in Kansas City. But Matt Cassel never has matched his performance in 2008, the year he replaced Tom Brady in New England, and it’s impossible to win in this league without someone who can move the chains by flinging the pig.

The bad news for the Chiefs and Pioli is that they’re a year late to earn a top-two pick. There’s no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III in 2013. Pioli’s best bet could be to take the best available athlete at the top of the draft, and then to make like Trent Baalke or John Schneider and find a franchise quarterback in round two or three.

If Hunt fires Pioli, the talk is that Bill Polian could become the new G.M. in Kansas City. Some suspect, however, that the Polian rumors trace to Polian himself.

Either way, a looming finish of 2-14 shows that changes are needed in Kansas City. The only question is how extensive they’ll be.