It was great still having football in February. If nothing else it makes the gap to the start of next season a little shorter. August is a long way away and we’ve a lot to get through between now and then. It’s time to look at the roster, assessing who is on the rise and who is on their way down. Who will stay and who will go? Is there cap space for upgrades? Do we need to create space by releasing players?
There are lots of decisions to be made, here’s a look at how some of those will come about.
The Franchise Tag
One of the first decisions to make. This is a one year contract for one player. It prevents them from reaching Free Agency but it comes at a salary cost. The salary amount is set by the averaging the top five salaries by position for the previous league year, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of a player’s salary the previous season. So players like quarterbacks and defensive ends will have a much higher tag salary than positions like kicker or punter.
Realistically Chris Jones is the only candidate likely for the Chiefs to tag. That would cost $15.5m for the season. The Chiefs then would have until mid July to agree a long term contract with Jones or he would play out the season on the tag salary.
The Chiefs have between Feb 25th and March 10th to allocate the tag, if they are going to.
Players whose contracts expire become free agents, able to negotiate new contracts with any team that’s interested. There are three kinds of free agent.
1 – Exclusive rights free agents (ERFA) – These are players that have less than two playing seasons to their name. They tend to get a league minimum contract offer with no bonuses. They can’t negotiate with other teams.
2 – Restricted free agent (RFA) – These players have less than three playing seasons to their name. Teams can tender a contract a three different levels. First, second and original draft status. These come with different salary amounts associated with them and players can negotiate with other teams. If another team offers a contract then the Chiefs would have 5 days to match it if they choose. If they decline then they would receive the other teams draft pick at the level of the tender the Chiefs had made. If a player is not tendered then he automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent.
3 – Unrestricted free agent (UFA) – These players are not under contract and are free to negotiate with any team.
The Chiefs have 24 free agents. 4 ERFA, 1 RFA and 19 UFA. Some big decisions will have to be made here over who to offer to and who to let walk.
QB – Henne, Moore
RB – McCoy, Sherman, Ware
WR – Robinson, Kemp
TE – Bell, Yelder, Wells
O Line – Wylie, Wisniewski
D Line – Williams, Ogbah, Jones, Pennel
LB – Lee, Ragland
DB – Breeland, Fuller, Reaser, Clairborne, Lucas
Beginning March 16th, teams can start to negotiate with players from other teams.
The best way to build your roster. College players declare themselves available to be selected and on April 23rd to 25th this year in Las Vegas, the NFL teams get to pick in order of worst teams to best (The Chiefs!!!). Each teams start with 7 picks, one in each round, but these can be traded to move up, down or traded for players. The Chiefs have made good use of late round picks traded for former 1st round players that haven’t worked out where they were drafted.
The Chiefs have a pick in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th rounds. The 6th round pick went to the Jets for Darron Lee and the 7th round pick went to the Dolphins for Jordan Lucas.
So these are the options open to the Chiefs. Players will come, players will go, no NFL roster stays the same and if you aren’t looking to improve then you are getting worse but it all has to be done within the restrictions of the salary cap. A certain Patrick Mahomes is eligible to a new contract and that is going to take a significant chunk of the cap.
Hard decisions need to be made and this is where GM Brett Veach really earns his money.