Plotting the course

Brett Veach is a wizard with the salary cap (we’ll gloss over his draft record for now), once again he’s going to have to work some magic this coming offseason to get the Chiefs reloaded and ready to challenge again for the Super Bowl Revenge Tour. With a significant drop in the salary cap due to Covid related revenue losses, there have already been some significant moves. I wrote here about some of the possible moves that could be made to clear out some cap space and the first two have already happened, with the release of Eric Fisher and Mitch Schwartz the Chiefs freed up about $18m but still left themselves $4m or so over the cap.

Using a mixture of OverTheCap and Spotrac to try and manage the cap impacts we’ll see if we can chart a route through Free Agency and then using PFF for a mock draft, we’ll see if we can leave ourselves with a roster fit for a Championship.

There are so many ways the Chiefs could approach this and there is a lot of guessing on numbers with the drop in cap, so if I hit on any of this then I’ll be happy. There are several areas of the roster that need work, in no particular order they are…

O Line – No starting Tackle on either side, no Center under contract, starting RG coming back after a year off, LG has minimal experience. That’s not good and we have a lot of work to do here. Nobody wants to see Patrick Mahomes rush for 500 yards before passing again, this is our primary area of focus.

Wide Receiver – Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. That’s pretty much it. Watkins, Robinson and Pringle are all Free Agents. Investment is needed here.

Tight End – With just Travis Kelce as a recognised name here, there has to be an addition or two here.

EDGE rusher – Frank Clark is expensive and isn’t going anywhere. But there is a gap at the other side as KPass is out of contract. Warm big bodies are needed here.

Cornerback – Sneed was a revelation, Fenton did ok and Keyes was a bit part rookie. That’s all we have here. A couple of additions here.

Linebacker – Slow and picked on in coverage frequently. Hitchens is tied down for this season at least, Gay should come back from injury to cement a place but there is still a need to get faster here.

Safety – Sorenson is a Free Agent. That leaves Mathieu and Thornhill along with Armani Watts. So realistically some depth is needed here.

That’s quite the shopping list! We’re going to need some money so our first job then, is to free up more cap space.

Freeing Cap Space

So the cut of Fisher and Schwartz left us $4m or so over cap and without a recognised starting OT. Obviously that’s a less than ideal. We’ll need to kick the can down the road a bit, but only as much as we have to, we don’t want to sink future seasons too. So here’s the plan

Restructure Patrick Mahomes roster bonus – this should free around $17m.

Restructure half of Chris Jones roster bonus – this frees about $6m. We could have done more here but this is one I don’t want to push too far because he only has a 3 year contract and any money spread goes over that time instead of the 5 years that Mahomes gets spread over.

Negotiate an extension for Mathieu, 3 years $33m – Back loading this a bit can free up about £10m this year. Spotrac has Mathieu’s value at $11m a year so I’ve used that figure here.

Restructure Tyreek Hill’s roster bonus – This frees up another $6m or so this season.

We’re now around $35m under the cap and we’re in a position to be players in Free Agency.

Internal Free Agents

Let’s take care of our own Free Agents first.

Byron Pringle – as a RFA the Chiefs can have him back at a low cost. He can fight with a FA and probably draft pick for the No 2 WR job.

Darrell Williams – Similar to Pringle, low cost for a proven commodity. With the return of Damien Williams and CEH having a season under his belt, the RB room looks like a strength.

Nick Keizer – He can be retained for pocket change and he’s a warm body at TE. Ideally we find TE2 and Keizer is TE3.

Charvarius Ward – This was a toss up between Ward and Breeland. Ward is 3 years younger, cheaper and there isn’t much difference in production between the two. Breeland can walk and hopefully find a lucrative contract elsewhere while we net a comp pick in the draft next year.

Taco Charlton – Injury ended what appeared to be a promising start to the season. I’d be looking to bring him back on a cheap 1 year “Show me” deal. He was up for $825k last season, I’m looking for the same again plus incentives. Still need to make another addition on the D Line despite this.

Kelechi Osemele – Same kind of situation as Charlton. He looked good before he was injured, let’s have another season and see if he can repeat that over a full season. May cost a little more than Charlton but I’ll happily part with $1.5m of Clark Hunt’s money here.

Bringing these guys back costs us around £9m. The rest of our Free Agents get our best wishes as they seek employment elsewhere.

External Free Agents

Here is where the decisions start to get tough. We still haven’t really addressed the O Line. That has to be our priority now. I’m going to work on the theory that Lucas Niang is going to be installed as the starting RT. We’re still missing a LT and a C. An elite LT costs a lot of money, more than we have. An elite IOL costs significantly less. While I’m still concerned that LT is an issue, there isn’t really any value in the Free Agents that I can see. With money to spend I’m going to shore up the middle of the line here and look to take our LT of the future early in the draft. It’s a somewhat risky strategy because starting rookies at both Tackle positions gives me the jitters, also the Tackles that I like could be gone by the time we pick at 31. However after multiple attempts at mocks I usually have a couple of them left by the time we pick. Worst case scenario we have Rankin who has a bit of experience play there. Not ideal, but not a complete dumpster fire either. With all that in mind…

Ted Karras – C – Miami Dolphins. Drafted by the Patriots in 2016 he gradually moved into a starting role by 2019. He signed for a season with the Dolphins and started at a very good level there. He allowed 0.69 hurries per game and 0.08 sacks per game. Solid numbers in pass protection. He’s not going to be cheap, he’s only 27 so hopefully is still ascending and he’s going for $11m a year so we’re $33m over 3 years.

Corey Davis – WR – Tennessee Titans. We load up on a young, talented and hopefully healthy WR to take on that No 2 role. Still only 26, coming off a 65 rec, 984 yard season he could be an integral part of this offence for years to come. Still need to add more depth at WR in the draft but Hill, Davis, Hardman and Pringle is a very handy 4 to have. Spotrac has his market value at $9.8m a year, so we’ll go with a 4 year, $40m contract and tie him down for his best seasons.

That’s $20m spent on 2 players, but they’re two very important additions to improve the offence around Patrick Mahomes. We do have some spare cash, but we’ll keep it aside and look at the June cuts to see if we can pick up some value at Tackle at that stage if we feel it’s necessary.

The Draft

I must have done a hundred mock drafts over the last month. I’m going to do one for the purpose of this exercise using PFF. This has fast become my favorite, you can trade, the draft board looks solid, there’s plenty of stats to chew on. As far as this draft goes, I’ll look at any trades that are offered to me and consider reasonable ones. I’m not someone who has any mad draft crushes and I frequently end up trading down to pick up more selections. It’s a lottery and the more tickets you have the better!

Our needs going into this are

Starting LT

Depth at WR, CB, EDGE, TE, S and IOL.

Here goes…

The big name Tackles are gone. Sewell, Slater, Jenkins and Darrisaw were all gone by 24. However, Vera-Tucker, Radunz, Cosmi and Leatherwood are all still there so we still have options. Wyatt Davis is there if I want to go with a G. If we hadn’t signed Davis in Free Agency then I’d probably have jumped over Rashod Bateman who is the highest ranked player remaining, but we did, so I’m not going there.

I have 5 teams interested in a trade. Jaguars (33), Jets (34), Lions (41), Patriots (46) and Cardinals (49). I’d rule out the Cardinals and Patriots. That’s too far to trade down.

The Lions are interesting, they have picks at 72 and 88. If I could take 41 and 72 for my 31 that would be very good value. Unless there’s a massive run on Tackles then one of the 4 should still be available.

The Jaguars and Jets would both end up giving me a 4th to move up 2 or 3 places. Pretty much everyone would still be available since I’m guessing they’re after Bateman. Jags have (106) and Jets (107), I’m going to be cheeky and try the Jags and see if they bite on 33 and 65 for 31. If not I’ll try for the 106 pick.

They go for it!!! Suckers!!! They don’t even take Bateman, he goes to the Bucs, they took another WR in Marshall.

Now picking at 33, only the Giants (42) are interested in a trade. They have 76 and I think that would be a solid deal. We’d be picking 5 times in the top 100. I do like the idea of Vera-Tucker though and Leatherwood. I offer 33 for 42 and 76, the Giants turn me down. I’m not settling for less than that so I’m picking here.

Pick 33 Alex Leatherwood – OT Alabama.

Our left tackle of the future. Hopefully. But it seems that he could move in to guard in the future if that doesn’t work out. Good pass protection, could do better in the run game.

Pick 63 Paris Ford – S – Pittsburgh.

Not what I was expecting to be picking here but I didn’t really like much else that was available and had no trade offers. We take a versatile Safety that can cover deep or play in the box. This should allow Spags to move Mathieu around as Ford takes over the Dan Sorenson role.

Pick 65 Dyami Brown – WR – North Carolina.

Back to back 1000 yard seasons. 20 touchdowns in the last 2 years. Capable of playing out wide or in the slot, another weapon for Patrick Mahomes and possibly a replacement for Mecole Hardman down the road if he doesn’t learn how to run routes properly.

Pick 94 Ben Cleveland – G – Georgia.

Looking towards the future, with both current Guards the wrong side of 30, Ben Cleveland gets a season to learn and hopefully take over one of the starting spots next season.

Pick 136 Cameron McGrone – LB – Michigan.

Speed and aggression added to the LB corps. Best case scenario he is groomed to take over from Hitchens in the next season or two.

Pick 144 Trill Williams – CB – Syracuse.

Fast, rangy, good physicals. Hope for another L’Jarius Sneed to add to the stable. Best case, he’s an upgrade on Ward.

Pick 175 Chauncey Golston – EDGE – Iowa.

Golston has experience playing defensive tackle or defensive end. Additionally, he has lined up at both left and right end during his time at Iowa. He also has experience of dropping back into coverage, which adds further value. Good depth with the hope that he can move into the starting line up next season.

Pick 181 Garret Wallow – LB – TCU.

We’re into special teams area now. A converted Safety, has some speed, range and coverage but lacks ideal size. He’s kind of an inbetweener. Should be a solid back up, maybe develops into a role player, should be a special teams stud.

Pick 240 Nick Eubanks – TE – Michigan.

Developmental TE, can fight with Keizer for the TE2 job.

Pick 256 DJ Daniel – CB – Georgia.

A warm body and special teams contributor.

So there we have it. We managed to get our LT of the future, plenty of depth and development pieces and another weapon for Mahomes to throw to. We’ll still be looking out for players that are cut and could have some mileage. We’ll keep Eric Fisher’s number on speed dial and check in how the recovery is going in case Leatherwood is a car crash at Tackle.

Ok, Brett Veach, it’s your turn…

2 thoughts on “Plotting the course

  1. Would have rather taken Vera-Tucker than Leatherwood.

    1. It was a toss up between the two to be honest. I read similar about skillsets and both seem likely to start out at T and possibly move in to G if it isn’t working. I could have gone either way and been happy. What is it about Vera-Tucker that would have swayed you?

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