En route to the Kansas City Chiefs winning Super Bowl LIV, the mantra most frequently voiced and written by the players and coaches was “unfinished business.” A commonly-used theme, for sure, but the Chiefs meant it. That mindset propelled them to finish off a historic championship season. The players have earned some time for celebration, rest, and relaxation. While they celebrate, the Chiefs coaching staff and front office continue to work on improving this budding dynasty.
The NFL free agency signing period kicks off on March 18, 2020, though teams can begin negotiating with players two days earlier. As is the case nearly every season, there are several big names hitting the market, and teams will be looking to bolster their rosters. Depending on teams’ salary cap situations, some teams are able to make big splashes whereas others are forced to remain stagnate. Free agency can provide teams with immediate and substantial improvements in various positions, but there are also risks that cannot be ignored. Contract length, dollars, age, durability issues, and productivity are common factors that teams have to consider with every potential transaction. Sometimes it works out very well. Other times, it can actually set organizations back.
For the Super Bowl LIV Champions, salary cap space and the undetermined future of certain key players is currently overshadowing the upcoming free agency buzz. The team at Arrowhead Live is diligently diving into discussions involving free agency and salary cap issues for the Chiefs. Among the current Chiefs roster, there are twenty-seven players who are potentially entering free agency discussion. Some are garnering great interest, and some very tough decisions are going to be made by Brett Veach and the Chiefs staff. They are going to need to be aggressive, creative, and perhaps unpopular, while making decisions they feel are in the best interest of the Chiefs organization moving forward. And regardless of how it all plays out, business decisions are business decisions.
Assuming the Chiefs promptly take care of their pending in-house matters, they can turn their sights towards the free agency market and explore some potential options to help fill areas of need. What they are unable to do or choose not to do during free agency will likely become more of an emphasis approaching the NFL Draft. Among the players throughout the league entering free agency, some will obviously be pursued more aggressively than others. Some have well-documented consistency in terms of durability and productivity, and future teams will have a much better understanding of what to expect. Those players are generally considered low-risk with moderate-to-high rewards. Some will come with much larger dollar signs and demand longer contracts. And with those larger dollar signs comes increased risk. Others, however, will come with both lack of consistent productivity and larger dollar signs because of market value. Those players are considered high-risk with low-to-moderate rewards.
One player that I’d like to discuss as a potential low-cost fit for Kansas City is Vic Beasley. The former DE of the Clemson Tigers was the 8th ￼overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In his second season (2016) with the Atlanta Falcons Beasley led the league with 15.5 sacks and was named to the Pro Bowl. In the past three seasons, he has managed 18 total sacks. In comparison, Beasley’s 8 sacks in the 2019 regular season would have tied for second (Frank Clark) on the Chiefs defense, just one shy of team sack-leader, Chris Jones. Also favorable, Beasley has proven to be durable, missing just two games during his first five seasons.
Critics argue that teams looking for upgrades should not be fooled by only Beasley’s sack numbers, citing an overall decline in performance and productivity. During the 2019 season, the fifth-year pro posted a pass-rush win rate of only 13.5% and 12.6% pressure rate, ranking him 70￼th in the league in edge rushers. He is mentioned as one of just six players at the position with a pass-rush win rate below 10% while having 300 or more pass-rushing opportunities.
When looking at the financial side, Beasley’s calculated market value is estimated at three years, approximately $22 million, averaging an annual salary of $7.3 million per year. In comparison, Frank Clark is due to earn $22.7 million during the 2020 season alone, the second year of his five-year contract. Alex Okafor, who missed six regular season games and the entire postseason because of injuries, is due to earn $6.9 million in 2020 and $7.8 million in 2021. The remaining four players currently under-contract at the DE position (Speaks, Kpassagnon, Lanier, Ward) combine for roughly $4.4 million in earnings. Emmanual Ogbah, also lost to injury in the regular and postseason, is soon to become an unrestricted Free Agent.
All things considered, I’ll argue that Beasley is among the group of available players considered low-risk who could potentially generate moderate-to-high rewards. Clearly the Falcons saw the potential when they decided to exercise the fifth-year option during his “decline.” Can he help strengthen an area of need? I believe he can. I believe he possesses the ability, athleticism, and potential to be a significant contributing factor in the Chiefs defense. He fits Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme. He has already demonstrated that he can be a dominant force with an arguably less-experienced supporting cast around him. He has proven to be durable and battle through injuries. If the numbers are right and agreements can be reached that satisfy both parties, I believe Vic Beasley can be a favorable low-cost fit for the Kansas City Chiefs.