With several needs heading into free agency and the draft, Brett Veach needs to find as many solutions as possible.
We’ve all done it before, well if you’re 18 at least. You’re at the gas station or at the grocery store and you see those flashy scratchers just promising you at least $50,000. What can it hurt right? It’s only $3 or you could win up to $500,000 with the $10 scratcher. You debate which has the better odds but end up buying three of the $3 scratchers, save a dollar and have greater odds at winning a big payday.
The Chiefs have already won the lottery. Their prize? A generational quarterback and head coach combination. So why do they need to keep playing? With limited salary cap space and roster spots, the Chiefs need to find cost-effective solutions to keep their championship aspirations alive.
While there are needs on this roster, let’s also acknowledge that this isn’t the New York Jets. Kansas City has a strong roster with some glaring needs in a few places. Rather than going all-in on a big-ticket (pun intended) free agent, they need to throw as many numbers at the problem as possible. Especially in an off-season such as this one.
Last week on Fansided’s Stacking the Box podcast NFL insider Matt Verdame reported ” The expectation is that the big-name guys will get their’s [money]. The mid-level guys who typically sign for more modest deals are going to be the guys who get screwed. They’re going to be taking one-year deals into August.”
While Chiefs fans continue to wait with bated breath for players like Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and JJ Watt to leave millions on the table to play in Kansas City the reality is it’s not happening. That level of player will still reach their earnings potential and will not leave long-term security and millions of dollars on the table.
However, the market is saturated with players and will continue to be as teams make cuts to get under the cap before the draft. Throw in another strong draft class and it truly is a “buyers” market this off-season. Should KC use this to their advantage to try to add the best wide receiver, tackle, or pass rusher they can afford? In my opinion, the answer is no.
Ask yourself this: why was the Sammy Watkins signing a mistake? The first two things that should come to your mind are availability and cost. The Buccaneers doubled and even at times tripled Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, they flat out said “Mecole Hardman, Sammy Watkins, and Clyde Edwards-Helarie will have to beat us” and those players could not take advantage of their mismatches.
If Watkins was more affordable his lack of availability and lack of production is much easier to stomach. Especially if Bryon Pringle and Marcus Kemp aren’t the next in line to catch passes. If they had 2-3 good WR behind Hill and Hardman maybe the Chiefs are able to get the ball out quicker and muster some touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
While Kansas City dominated the regular season with Mahomes, Kelce, and Hill it is a formula that can be stopped in the playoffs especially against elite defenses. The best thing the Chiefs can do is look to add as many role players to the roster as possible and hope they hit the jackpot with a few of them. As long as they can sign these players to cheap-close to league minimum deals it has little to no risk for the team.
Likewise, this is where players will actually take a pay cut, if their choices are a $1 million deal with the Chiefs or a $3 million deal with the Texans it’s much easier to accept less for a better situation. If they strike gold with a player, they can extend them next year as the cap goes up. If they bust they can just as easily cut them with little to no penalty.
Players to target:
All of these players are low-risk/high reward that will likely be very cheap to add.
WR: Keelan Cole, John Ross, Breshad Perriman, Desean Jackson, Josh Reynolds and Willie Sneed
RB: Mark Ingram, Matt Bredia, Chris Thompson and Marlon Mack
TKL: Kelvin Beachum, Mike Remmers and Denzell Good
IOL: DJ Fluker, Kelechi Osemele and Forest Lamp
Edge: Derek Wolfe, Taco Charlton, Oliver Vernon and Tyus Bowser
Do any of these names strike fear in the hearts of other NFL teams? Probably not, but the combination of 4-5 of them added to an already championship-level roster does make it meaningful. The list isn’t even complete yet there will be more names added to the list as cap casualties into training camp.
So don’t panic in a few weeks when the Chiefs are relatively quiet in the first free-agency frenzy. Obviously, almost none of the players listed above are long-term solutions at their position. Those moves need to be paired with draft picks as well in order to develop the roster and to keep it youthful and cheap.