Over the weekend the Chiefs marked a bittersweet spot on the calendar. The $9.55 million in savings by releasing Eric Berry has now been added to the salary cap.
The Eric Berry era in Kansas City has breathed its final breath (sigh), but the Chiefs do now have a significant amount of money to play with these final three months of the offseason. So what’s the best way to spend it?
Free Agent Signing?
The current free agent market doesn’t really meet any of the Chiefs needs, which most agree include an upgrade at cornerback or a wide receiver, depending on how the Tyreek Hill situation resolves itself. Safety Tre Boston is still out there, but he would have made more sense before the NFL Draft. Now that Juan Thornhill is on the roster, Boston doesn’t.
It is possible that a veteran will be released post-June 1st that Brett Veach wants to sign. But since teams can now pre-designate June 1 releases, most veterans that are being released to create salary cap space already have been, the Josh Norman rumors notwithstanding.
For what it’s worth, if the Redskins do cut ties with Norman, I’m not interested. He’s a name because of his run-ins with Odell Beckham, Jr. and not because he’s a great corner. He’d be an average addition at best.
Space for Trade?
Even with the Patrick Peterson suspension he is still a possible trade candidate. He’d be eligible to play the entire second half of the season plus postseason, and would no doubt create an immediate impact on the Chiefs secondary. Peterson has a cap hit of $11 million this season (minus the weeks he’s suspended) and $13 million next season, and would be worth every penny of it.
Jags corner Jalen Ramsey and Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph are two of the other names most talked about when it comes to trades and the Chiefs. Ramsey is said to be unhappy in Jacksonville and the Vikings are thought to need to the space of Rudolph’s contract, but neither team has made any indication that they are looking to sell.
Whatever the case, these aren’t moves that will be made anytime soon. These teams have waited this long – they’re likely to wait until training camp when injuries begin to happen and the value of tradable veterans can rise substantially.
Lockup Our Own?
The Chiefs have a substantial number of very talented young players that are going to get big contract extensions in the very near future, and ideally KC would like to be the team handing out those extensions.
Patrick Mahomes is going to get paid, and there is zero chance he’s leaving Kansas City. The planning for his next contract is well underway, and it’s possible the Chiefs will hold on to the money they have and roll it over into a front-loaded contract for Mahomes. Although considering Russell Wilson’s new contract and the deal Dak Prescott is likely to sign soon, Mahomes is going to command more than just a front-loaded deal. An annual salary in the neighborhood of $40 million is not unreasonable.
There is also the case of Chris Jones, who is currently sitting out the team’s voluntary OTAs until he gets a new contract. He wants to stay in Kansas City, the Chiefs want to keep him, and most people think he’ll have his new contract before a real dispute begins. And his teammates definitely know what he means to this team.
However, there is another discussion in Twitterverse that says with Frank Clark’s contract the Chiefs simply can’t afford to give another defensive lineman a huge contract. Jones is going to get close to Aaron Donald money, and he’s earned it. But can the Chiefs really give it to him?
If not, they would need that cap space to find his replacement in 2020. Jones is under contract for 2019, so we wouldn’t see another Le’Veon Bell situation, even if the discussions turned hostile. But beyond that his departure would create a huge void in the middle of the line.
It’s hard to know what Brett Veach has in mind with his extra cash. But the fact that the Chiefs began the offseason with a salary cap mess, and now have one of the more enviable caps in the league – while still improving the defense this offseason – is a very good thing.