The NFL is a business. Even the most hardcore fans understand that sometimes dollar signs and affiliations impact personnel moves.
As much as the Kansas City Chiefs would love to hit copy and paste from the 2019 roster to the 2020 season, there are tough decisions ahead regarding who will remain on the team. With Chris Jones due for an extension, other defensive players with expiring contracts, and just under $14 million in cap space, Brett Veach and company might need to let some players go in order to retain others.
Here are five players that could potentially be let go by the Chiefs this offseason.
Watkins carries a $21 million cap hit for 2020, and Watkins will not be a Chief at that rate. While Watkins has been remarkable in two postseasons with the team, he has ranked 3rd on the team in each of the last two regular seasons in yards, and only has three touchdowns each season. A $21 million hit is simply too much for a receiver averaging 12 games, 596 yards, and 3 touchdowns. If Watkins wants to play and decides against restructuring, he’ll more than likely be let go. The Chiefs would still have a dead cap charge of $7 million, but the $14 million they would save would double the cap space they have now and could go towards a Jones contract or other areas of the roster that aren’t as deep.
Cam Erving was thrown into game action midway through the year, starting eight games due to an injury to Eric Fisher. He struggled at times in relief, but was able to hold his own until Fisher returned. Erving carries a cap charge of almost $4.7 million and if the Chiefs do not pick up his team option there would be zero dead cap. That would be an intriguing detail for the front office. While Reid loves the versatility that Erving brings to the offensive line, Veach could see that money being used better elsewhere.
This one would be tough. Sorenson made some big plays in crucial moments this season, including a game-sealing interception in Mexico City versus the Chargers and two huge special teams plays in the Divisional Round comeback versus the Texans. However, Sorenson currently ranks in the top-30 for safety cap hits. With a strong rookie campaign from Juan Thornhill alongside Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs could let Dirty Dan’s contract go and save almost $4 million in the process. In his place, the Chiefs could resign Kendall Fuller, who has shown versatility to bounce around in the back end to help fill that hole.
O’Daniel was used almost entirely as a special teams player, logging only five defensive snaps over the 2019 regular season. Damien Wilson played extremely well over the year, and it is likely the Chiefs look to pick up his team option for 2020. Reggie Ragland and Ben Niemann return as well. Moving on from O’Daniel would save about $600,000 in cap space. While this is not as big of a hit as the rest of the players on this list, any amount is an important amount in the salary cap era, especially with the amount of other defensive players the Chiefs could lose to free agency.
Colquitt is the longest tenured Chief, having just finished his 15th season with the team. He is also a fan favorite in the Kingdom. Colquitt currently has the 8th highest cap hit among punters on the books in 2020 at $2.65 million, via Over the Cap. While being paid like a top-10 punter, Colquitt was actually in the bottom half of qualified punters in net average in 2019, ranking 22nd out of 36. Some names above him on the list include New England’s Jake Bailey, San Francisco’s Mitch Wishnowsky, and Cleveland’s Jamie Gillan. All three of them have hits of less than $1 million. Could Veach decide to save a a couple million and release a beloved figure by fans?
This was a difficult list to make. Fans would love to carry over the same roster into next year. This roster felt more like a family and was the one that brought Kansas City its long coveted championship.
However, as previously mentioned, the NFL is a business. And in the coming weeks, the Chiefs have some tough business decisions to make.