Kansas City Chiefs February Scouting Report
Sooooo, what does a Super Bowl Champion franchise need to be even better to accomplish a successful title defense?Just 25 days ago the Chiefs were crownedkings of the NFL, but Coach Andy Reid’s kingdomhas a fair share of personnel challenges looming.
Let us take a gander at the Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) mess that GM Brett Veach must hack through in the upcoming weeks.Currently the club has no Restricted Free Agents (RFA) to deal with.
(Position, Player, Age)
QB,Chad Henne, 35
QB, Matt Moore, 36
RB, LeSean McCoy, 32
RB, Damien Williams, 28
RB, Spencer Ware, 28
FB, Anthony Sherman, 31
WR, Demarcus Robinson, 25
WR, Marcus Kemp, 25
TE, Blake Bell, 29
TE, Deon Yelder, 25
TE, David Wells, 25
C, Stefen Wisniewski, 31
OT, Cameron Erving, 28
OT, Andrew Wylie, 26
DE, Chris Jones, 26 (FRANCHISE TAG pending)
DE, Emmanuel Ogbah, 26
DE, Mike Pennel, 29
DT, Xavier Williams, 28
OLB, Damien Wilson, 27
OLB,Terrell Suggs, 37
ILB, Darron Lee, 25
ILB, Reggie Ragland, 26
S, Jordan Lucas, 27
CB, Morris Claiborne, 30
CB, BashaudBreeland, 28
CB, Keith Reaser, 29
CB, Kendall Fuller, 25
There are clearly a few high-profile UFAs in that little convention of contract pursuers, namely Chris Jones, LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Damien Wilson, Reggie Ragland, BashaudBreeland and Kendall Fuller.Chris Jones is lined up for the Franchise Tag, so he is a Chief for at least 2020 as Mr. Veachmakes it known Jones is in the future plans. More on this shortly.
Mr. Veach has got the ink warmed up earlier this month by signing the following players to futures contracts:
Gehrig Dieter, WR
Mike Weber, RB
Emmanuel Smith, LB
Kyle Shurmur, QB
Elijah McGuire, RB
Devaroe Lawrence, DT
Chris Lammons, CB
Nick Keizer, TE
Braxton Hoyett, DT
Joe Fortson, TE
Obviously, the main cog whoneeds to be addressed is DT/DE Chris Jones. Mr. Veachhas decided to lay the Franchise tag upon Jones, which nets the energetic star lineman about $15.5 million for 2020. Brett Veach said Jones is most definitely in the long-term team plans and that negotiations on a new deal should be on-going through the tag. Jones said in a very timely interview that he had mixed emotions regarding the tag but understands the business decision involved. Inking Chris Jones long-term will be quite an undertaking as the Chiefs currently are just $13.4 million (or $16.4 million depending on quirky NFL accounting) under the salary cap. Jones has far exceeded his production compared to his college days at Mississippi State, where he tallied 8.5 sacks in 3 seasons. Jones racked up 9 QB take downs just last season, even after a slow start and missing 3 games. Yes, he wasn’t as disruptive in 2019 and in his breakout 2018 campaign. Sacks for Jones fell from 15.5 in 2018 to 9 last season. His tackles-for-loss (TFL) also plummeted to 8 compared to the awesome 19 behind the scrimmage drops in ’18. Still, Chris Jones is Coach Spagnuolo’sdefensive linecenterpiece.
GM Brett Veachdid state Chris Jones as being a priority and he would like to work something out with the D-lineman. Again, there is a real issue with cap space and what the market appears to be for Jones. Falcon’s star DT Grady Jarrettstruck a $17 million gold mine in his similar situation with Atlanta. That’s more than the Chiefs have under the cap. The franchise tag buys time, but again, that still costs Mr. Veachthe vast majority of his current cap. The GM said he’d like to continue to line up a tag-team dynamic duo of Jones and Frank Clark and that he will bemeeting with the Jones people this week.
If Chris Jones is not apt to come back to KC past 2020 (or even before due to a surprise trade), Coach Reid and Coach Spagnuolo may turn things over to DE/DT TanohKpassagnon. OK, he’s no Chris Jones, but he does have the chops to shift up-n-down the line. Add in Kpassagnon’s still playing on very team-friendly rookie contract and K-Pass becomes quite a valued commodity for Mr. Veach as he navigatesa challenging cap situation. Again, Kpassagnon is not Chris Jones but he’s no slouch andcarries a fraction of the cost.
It matters because there this need for a contract extension for some guy named Patrick Mahomes, which must be addressed seriously sooner than later.
Some tough decisions are going to be made regarding the UFAs listed. Bet the house Shady McCoy is done in KC. He barely mattered down the stretch and throughout the post-season fun run. Damien Williamswas arguably the MVP of the Super Bowl, but he is a RB, and though versatile Williams isn’t the type of back a team should even consider venturing into lofty financial waters.
Though WR Sammy Watkins is NOT near end-of-contract, his cumbersome cap hit should be addressed. Watkins also made some noise about wanting to take a year off from football. Mr. Veachneeds to clean up the Sammy situation one way or another, even possibly releasing the post-season star. Demarcus Robinson will likely be plying his wares elsewhere in 2020. As deep as this year’s WR class is, drafting his replacement shouldn’t be an issue.
Kansas City has 2 CBs that should be brought back on new deals because of need, talent and age. Kendall Fuller had an up-n-down 2019, but he is still just 25 and such a versatile, competent performer. BashaudBreeland is a playmaker at corner. Yes, he has his flaws, but most corners that with aggressive ball skills do. I expect Mr. Veach to make every effort to re-up these 2 young and talented DBs.Breeland is 28 years old and held his cover assignments to just a 48% completion rate in 2019. Yes, he allowed 5 TDs and a 92QB rating when targeted but Breeland also made plays and his ball skills are needed.
LB Damien Wilson had a career year in 2019; his 81 total tackles were 2nd only to Anthony Hitchens (88). But this was Wilson’s best season as a pro and how much more can he deliver going forward? Can he even match his breakout play of 2019?Reggie Ragland is also in UFA limbo, which pushes Wilson’s long-range value up some as Wilson is the more versatile athlete. Waiting in the wings for a full shot are Ben Niemann and Dorian O’Daniel. The middle no longer requires 2 top-flight ILBs in Coach Spagnuolo’s program. Hitchens is set for 2020. Wilson and Ragland may take their Super Bowl rings elsewhere.
No doubt GM Veach and Coach Andy have more than a few hard choices to make at the money table. As always, the draft is a key source for roster remedyand clarity. Assuming Chris Jones and the club are good for 2020 through the franchise tag time-buy, KC can look past D-line as a priority target in this year’s draft. Cornerback could bolt to the top of the to-do list come draft day if Mr. Veach is unable to lock up any of the four UFA cornerslooking for new paper: Breeland, Claiborne, Fuller and Reaser. Coach Reid was never one to want to budget big at LB and there are some intriguing young lions in the defensive den waiting to be let loose; O’Daniel and Niemann in particular. An edge rusher would be a need, however. Safety is set with Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. So, after the scary CB situation, wide receiver and running back become draft priorities. How much better does Patrick Mahomes and this already potent offense become with a clear-cut WR2 running shotgun for Tyreek Hill? Sure, Sammy Watkins teased us in the season opener but went into witness protection until the playoffs. Mecole Hardman isn’t built for full-time WR2 chores. Demarcus Robinson is probably donning a different jersey in 2020 (UFA). If ever there was a year to score a top-flight WR in the draft, it is this year. The pickings are abundant, and the value runs deep into the draft. RB is another thin area for the Chiefs heading into 2020. Damien Williams is free to go as a UFA. Shady McCoy is all but gone and is also UFA. Darwin Thompson is a 3rd-downer type at best. Darrel Williamsis a limited talent. Again, how much more dangerous does this offense become by adding a playmaking RB that can complement Damien Williams? Biggest challenge the KC war room faces headed into this year’s draft is being light on draft ammo. The Chiefs have just 5 picks this year, all at the end of rounds 1 through 5. You can almost guarantee the GM trading out of the first round in an effort to acquire more selection opportunities. Again, the positions of need can be filled quite nicely from the latter half of the 2nd round and on.
First let’s see how Chris Jones and the KC brass work things out at the money table. Same with the free agent CBs. The Combine is happening right now and there are answers to the Chiefs roster questions soon to be answered there. I’ll be back next month with my look into the potential draft targets for the Chiefs. The 2020 fun has begun!
John Cooney is a senior fantasy football writer for FFMastermind.com.
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