When you’re winning it is hard to look past just the present time, but we all know the Chiefs will have some salary cap decisions. Decisions like players they want to keep, players they want to try and trade, or players they want to try and restructure their current deals. We will take a look at players on the roster that are untouchable and players they might move off of in the current year.
Let’s start with the five players on the roster who are untouchables.
This is a given, just signing a contract extension worth up to $500 million dollars and being the reigning Super Bowl MVP, we all knew this deal was going to happen and that Mahomes was going to be a Chief for many years to come. Once you have the QB position figured out, you have to make sure you don’t see that guy leave your building and the Chiefs did just that.
I was glad this deal got done and I know majority of Chiefs fans were as well. Jones brings a swagger and love for the game that is on display each and every game and the guy just loves football. He wants to be the best player he can be too. He said in his press conference after signing his deal that he is going to become the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL and that the Chiefs are going on a dynasty run. Outside of Aaron Donald, you will not find a better interior pass rusher than Chris Jones. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones had a 90.0 pass rushing grade which ranked 2nd in the NFL and had a 87.6 overall grade which landed him 7th among all interior defenders in the NFL. Put all of this production along with his four year, $85 million contract extension, he becomes one of the Chiefs that will be in Kansas City for years to come.
When you’re the fastest guy in the NFL and you have a QB who can throw the ball a mile, that just seems like it would work right away and it has. This offseason Tyreek is finally getting the respect he deserves as a complete WR. For a season or two, he was just known as a gadget player, but has really elevated his game and is now one of the premier playmakers/WRs in the NFL. Tyreek ranked 8th out of 122 WRs this past season according to Pro Football Focus. If Tyreek would’ve been healthy this season he would’ve surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the 3 straight season after his first All-Pro season in 2018. Tyreek is so important for what the Chiefs do offensively. Not only does he command a constant double team, but if you don’t account for him, the Chiefs can burn you with one play. He opens up everything else underneath for guys like Kelce and Watkins, but it also helps open up the run game as well. Tyreek is signed through 2023, but look for him to get another contract and be paired up with Mahomes and Reid for awhile.
Kudos to Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs for bringing the Honey Badger to Kansas City. Mathieu brought a swagger and an attitude the Chiefs were desperate for the previous year and made an immediate impact when he arrived in Kansas City. He was a candidate in a lot of circles for Defensive Player of the Year and was a huge reason why the Chiefs were vastly improved on defense this past year. As we all know, he has a nose for the ball and is flying all around the field making plays each and every game. If the Chiefs had someone like Mathieu in 2018, they would’ve probably been Super Bowl Champions that year as well. Tyrann becomes a free agent in 2022, but don’t be surprised if the Chiefs try to keep him around as he was the MVP of the defense this past year and was the reason why the defense was much improved.
Outside of Kansas City this guy doesn’t get near the attention or the credit he deserves. The past two seasons Schwartz has been one of the premier OTs in the NFL. Protecting your franchise QB is an absolute must if you’re the Chiefs and with Schwartz, that is one person you can count on to get the job done every single snap. With lining up against guys like Joey Bosa and Von Miller every single year, it is a luxury the Chiefs have someone like Schwartz holding down that side of the offensive line. Here is one mind boggling stat about Schwartz. In the playoffs this past season, according to Pro Football Focus, Schwartz played 205 snaps and allowed only one QB pressure! Yes you read that correctly, just one pressure. Schwartz is due to become a free agent in 2022 also, but in the meantime, enjoy his time here as a Chief.
Now we will take a look at the 5 players on the Chiefs roster who I think are on the trade block.
The Chiefs LB core is by far the weak spot of the defense. Hitchens happens to be the weakest of that unit as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Hitchens ranked 81st out of 89 qualified LBs. That is just not the production you expect from someone that is getting paid $9 million a season. Hitchens does have large cap hit seasons coming up. According to spotrac.com, Hitchens will count for $12.6 million against the cap this season and $10.7 million for next season. Given how the front office has drafted in the past I definitely think the Chiefs could find someone to bring better production for substantially less money than what Hitchens is getting. Look for the Chiefs to move on from Hitchens soon.
This is another one of those examples where the production just doesn’t meet the price tag that comes along with it. LDT ranked 50th out of 83 qualified guards last year according to Pro Football Focus and is set to account for $5.5 million against the salary cap this upcoming season. With someone like Mike Remmers coming in through free agency this year that could be a door for the Chiefs to move on from LDT before the season even starts.
Outside of the LB unit for Kansas City, the offensive line is the next one up in terms of needing help. Fisher actually wasn’t bad last season. According to Pro Football Focus he ranked 30th out of 82 qualified OTs last season. The reason I think he is a candidate for the trade block is again, his cap hit numbers. With the Chiefs having a lot of important players coming due in 2022, they could try getting some of these deals done early and front-loading them that way they don’t run into Mahomes’s large portions of his deal and the way the Chiefs would have to do that is moving on from players making a lot of money this year and next year. Fisher will account for $14.9 million against the salary cap this year and $14.6 million next year. That is a lot of money the Chiefs could use to resign someone like Schwartz, Kelce, or Mathieu. The Chiefs also brought in guys like rookie Lucas Niang and Yasir Durant to maybe find a replacement tackle on that left side of the offensive line.
This might come with some controversy as Sorensen made two huge plays in the divisional round against the Houston Texans, but the Chiefs can find someone to garner his special team and backup role for significantly less money. He is due to account for $4.75 million against the salary cap this season. Sorensen does become a free agent after this season, but the Chiefs should look at trading him during the season and opening up that cap space to potentially sign free agents during the year. With the pandemic going on and not having very much cap space to work with, if guys get sick during the season and you can’t bring in anybody because you don’t have cap space to work with seems like a dangerous recipe if you are the Chiefs.
This is just a roster spot case for why the Chiefs should move on from Henne. The Chiefs only carried two QBs during their season last year and you saw what can happen with what the Chiefs have. They signed Matt Moore off the street and beat the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings with barely any preparation time. This again is just a cap space saving move and being able to win with guys like Matt Moore instead. Henne accounts for $1.6 million against the cap for the next two seasons and the Chiefs could use that money better elsewhere.
The Chiefs are going to become cap stricken here in a couple of years and some of these moves would help ease that burden of trying to make things happen. As we know, Brett Veach is a wizard and will somehow make this thing work, but it won’t come at the expense of making some hard decisions. The Chiefs will ultimately decide who they have to have on their team going forward and what pieces they can let go of.