The 2020 NFL Free Agency Period was filled with excitement, and hope for 31 fan bases and fear from Chiefs fans if they would be able to maintain the roster quality of 2019. Before for the 31 teams not in Kansas City was an opportunity on March 16, 2020 when the legal tampering period began, to try and improve their rosters to be able to climb the mountain that the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes sit on top of as the reigning Super Bowl LIV Champions. As the other NFL franchises try to climb the proverbial mountain to the top of the league, the Chiefs are faced with a choice. Do they try and move on from their pending free agents and rebuild a new roster or attempt to Run It Back and try to maintain the 2019 roster to the best of their ability? The answer was one that I myself feel like was the right decision, with huge contracts looming for players like Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones the team has to do the best they can this offseason to get a boom for their buck. In doing so they have been able to make some moves that have helped some guys and hurt others. So let’s take a deeper look at the winners and losers of the Kansas City Chiefs 2020 NFL free agency moves.
Winner – Patrick Mahomes
Now you may be wondering how a guy like Mahomes would be considered a winner, when he wasn’t even a FA in 2020. There is really one reason that Mahomes will come out of all of this as a winner. Consider what waiting on signing a contract extension until next season will do for his overall market value. I project that Patrick Mahomes’s next contract will look something like 5-Years, 200M, at 40M per year, fully guaranteed. This is what I think his market value will be, but he understands the importance of having talent around. So I expect him to settle for less to give the team the cap flexibility to afford talent and compete for championships. Waiting until next off-season to sign a new deal is the best option because it allows the Chiefs the ability to put a better team around him in 2020, and it gives him a chance to let guys like Dak Prescott and Deshawn Watson reset the QB market. This will only drive his numbers up, not even considering that he may increase his value again with his his weapons from 2019 returning.
Having another MVP level season will give him all the leverage in the world to ask for a number around 40M/Per Year. Then take a number like 37 million a year and it be considered a team friendly deal and make him look like a guy that is in it to win games, but also make him the highest paid player in the league. It’s a great situation to be in if you are Mahomes and his representation, knowing that waiting until the 2021 off season to sign a long term deal will allow them the best chance to win on the field.
Loser – Byron Pringle
The return of guys like Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are the biggest reason Byron Pringle finds himself in the loser column. I believe that if either of those two were no longer on the roster in 2020 that Pringle would have been next in line to see a large uptick in playtime and targets in the upcoming season. In his limited opportunities last year, Pringle was able to make a hand full of big plays and show that he has the potential to develop into a solid contributor for this team at the WR position. If you have any issues with what you have seen from a guy like Pringle just look at this clip of him in the week 5 Loss vs Indianapolis Colts.
As you can see, in the clip, Pringle is able to get seperation, then contort his body to track the ball and make the adjustments in the air to secure the catch. Once he secures the catch, he turns up field and fights for extra yards. This play shows me the potential he has to improve into a solid player and really contribute in a bigger role. Unfortunately, with the team retaining guys like Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson, I expect Pringle to see limited opportunities again. I’m also rooting for the guy, since I am a K-State alum and have been a big believer in his ability from the start.
Winner – Sammy Watkins
When you think of Sammy Watkins, what do you think of? I think of a guy who has incredible potential, who makes some special plays when on the field. That’s the issue though with Watkins, it’s hard to project when and if he will be on the field and fully healthy. We have seen instances like this clip where when at full strength Sammy Watkins is a guy that should strike fear into a defense. As you can see in this Tweet, Sammy is able to get in space and run away from defenders with ease on his way to his 3rd TD of the day.
Sammy Watkins is a guy that can beat anyone one on one when healthy, but his biggest issue is staying 100% throughout a sixteen game schedule. What makes him a big winner by staying in KC is who he has throwing him the ball and feeling like he is in a situation were he is cared about and believed in. I think on the open market someone of his talent and potential when healthy could have gotten more than a 9M dollar deal if he doesn’t reach his incentives. He chose to stay with the Chiefs for one very important thing mroe than anything else. He likes having a front office and coaching staff that believe in him, because it seemed he didn’t have that in either Buffalo or LA. It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the greatest guys in NFL history slinging the ball your way, and he is only going to get better
Loser – Deon Yelder
In 2019 Yelder had limited opportunities to see the field or get any meaningful snaps in the offense as a pass catcher. In my opinion he was a supperior talent to Blake Bell last year, but the coaching staff must not see Yelder as a consistent starter and instead just a quality depth option. He was brought back on a qualifying offer in an attempt to gain good depth at the TE position for cheap, and i was hopeful he would end up on the winners side of the equation. He has a ton of upside in my eyes as a pass catcher, but i feel like his injury history has limited his ability to show the organization what he is truly capable of doing. Here is an example of his ability in the passing game, and as a blocker when he has been give an opportunity to make plays.
Based on these two clips he looks to be a guy that could have been the TE2 following the departure of Blake Bell who signed deal with the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunatley for Yelder the Chiefs recently agreed to a 1-year deal with Ricky Seals-Jones, who is a guy entering his fourth year in the league who has yet to receive a ton of opportunity. The big difference is that Seals-Jones has a lot more production and shows true potential in the run game with the combination of his blazing speed, as well as solid hands. The TE2 position has been an issue for the Chiefs for quite some time, and I feel that based on Seals-Jones’s ability in the pass game that he will come in and limit Yelder’s ability to get on the field once again. I expect that Yelder’s snap majority will more than likely be in blocking situations only thanks to the additon of Seals-Jones.
Winner – Andy Reid
I think that there are a couple additions, as well as a few re-signings that make Andy Reid a big winner during free agency. With the current situation that the world is in with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it isn’t quite clear if the NFL will be able to have a normal off season, which can make things hard on any head coach. This year though Big Red is trying to defend his first Super Bowl title. Fortunately for Coach Reid the team was able to retain or upgrade the main positions on offense. The team is clearly embracing the the Run It Back mindset, and have decided to do everything in their power to be able to give Andy all the weapons from last year. Having guys like Sammy Watkins and DeMarcus Robinson back allow Andy to put complete trust in his players and just go play ball. With the development we saw from Mecole Hardman last year, and the schematic posibilities with a TE group of Kelce, Seals-Jones, and Yelder I am looking forward to seeing what Andy can do from a scheme standpoint with a group of guys with superior receiving ability compared to most TE groups in this league. The state of the offense being the same with the ability to get practices in before August give Andy Reid an advantage and make him one of the biggest winners from the 2020 free agency moves.
Loser – Chris Harris Jr.
With an opportunity to join the Super Bowl Champions and make a run at his second Super Bowl victory, Harris Jr. had a decision to make. Would he rather chase money and go with the LA Chargers who have went 1-9 against Kansas City in the last 10 meetings, who don’t have a QB worth discussing, and can’t seem to have a home crowd that outnumbers the visitors or come to the defending Super Bowl LIV Champion Kansas City Chiefs? He chose the former and I believe that he could ultimately end up being the biggest loser of all of the big name FA’s in this group. I can see the intrigue to go to LA because it’s a flashy market, but it is more of a Rams city as opposed to a Chargers one. So what made him make this decision? The only thing I can think that drew him to the Chargers was they do have a ton of talent on the defense and they are in a big market. Other than that he is still going to have to stop Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, DeMarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle which he wasn’t really able to do all that well in Denver. In this video you can hear him clearly say “It isn’t just Mahomes it is their whole entire offense.”
After watching that, he seems to understand the challenge of defending the Kansas City Chiefs offense, who if anything have gotten better this offseason, even before the draft. So it will be interesting to see if he made the right choice. For any DB to pass up the opportunity to play with Patrick Mahomes to in turn go to a divisional rival and have to face him twice a year is a big loser in every sense of the word.
I look forward to seeing how all of these moves play out, as well as what the NFL Draft will add to the off season intrigue. The Chiefs are off to a great start in their Super Bowl defense. It will be an interesting journey and I’m excited for the wild ride that the 2020 NFL Season will most certainly become.