Welcome one and all. Chiefs Kingdom is a united front like no other. Through much heartache to many victories, we have been through a lot.
This season was spectacular in every sense and while losing a Super Bowl can dampen things, let’s not forget how hard it is to just appear in the big game.
The Kansas City Chiefs made it to Super Bowl, despite injuries to many different levels of the roster. Most crucial were the losses of both Michell Schwartz (Week 6) and Eric Fisher (Championship Weekend).
Let me get this out of the way now, KC’s replacements kept the team from having to make drastic reaches or trades that would further damage the team’s future. So, before people go after Mike Remmers with pitchforks for his Super Bowl performance, let’s remember that his job was never to start at left tackle in a Super Bowl.
Remmers started in three different positions throughout the season and, again, was a key reason for the offense maintaining its stature after the injury to Schwartz.
Moving back to the focus of this column, I will be bringing you several of these installments through the off-season. The idea here is to provide everyone several different looks at how the off-season could go for the Chiefs, and what the thought process is behind the moves that I make.
Feel free to leave your comments or thoughts in the section at the bottom of the column and I’ll chat with you there!
Without further delay, let’s kick off with some cap casualties and restructures…
Adjusting The Roster
Starting Cap Space: $-19.9M
- Restructure Frank Clark (DE) base salary – saves $11.6M
- Restructure Travis Kelce (TE) base salary – saves $3.3M
- Restructure Anthony Hitchens (LB) base salary – saves $2.4M
- Restructure Harrison Butker (K) base salary – saves $1.6M
- Release (Injury Designation) Eric Fisher (OT) – saves $12M
- Extend Tyrann Mathieu (S) to 3-year deal – saves $9.7M
- Extend Mitchell Schwartz (OT) to 3-year deal – saves $5M
Notes: Restructuring is going to happen this off-season and it’s unavoidable with such big contracts for Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones. Being able to keep the cuts and trades at a minimum is likely important for GM Brett Veach.
Although losing Fisher isn’t the best, I believe that 2020 rookie Lucas Niang and a draft pick could certainly provide a bright future at the position. The truth is that Fisher may not be available until the middle of the 2021 season, as is, so another option will have to be explored either way.
Extensions for Mathieu and Schwartz should be a priority anyway and the ability to lower their 2021 cap hits will be huge moving into free agency.
Starting Cap Space: $25.8M
- Re-sign Damien Wilson (LB) to 2-year contract – adds $2.9M
- Re-sign Austin Reiter (IOL) to 1-year contract – adds $2M
- Re-sign Bashad Breeland (CB) to 2-year contract – adds $3M
- Re-sign Anthony Sherman (FB) to 1-year contract – adds $2M
- Re-sign Kelechi Osemele (IOL) to 1-year contract – adds $2M
- Re-sign Alex Okafor (DE) to 1-year contract – adds $2M
- Re-sign Antonio Hamilton to 1-year contract – adds $1M
- Sign Tre Burton (TE) to 1-year contract – adds $1M
- Sign Rashard Higgins (WR) to 3-year contract – adds $4.5M
*More signings would happen obviously, but these are the ones that impact the final 53-man roster.
Notes: Re-signing as many players as possible is a Veach forte and will likely happen here. In the long run, it’ll keep costs down and avoid a bunch of unnecessary turnovers.
Signing Burton to fortify the tight end group is similar to the team signing Ricky Seals-Jones last season. It’s a low-risk, medium reward option. Whereas Higgins could have a very high ceiling in Kansas City.
Having sat behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry in Cleveland, Higgins has proven his big-play ability time and time again when given the opportunity. Also, it should be noted that there’s a HUGE difference between Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and KC’s Mahomes…
Starting Cap Space: $7.4M
Round 1, Pick 31: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Round 2, Pick 63: Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan
Round 3, Pick 94: Victor Dimukeje, EDGE, Duke
Round 4, Pick 127: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
Round 5, Pick 159: Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois
Round 7, Pick 223: Brenden Jaimes, OL, Nebraska
Notes: The Chiefs currently sit with six selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. That’ll likely change with compensatory picks and trades in play, but for the time being, here we are.
At the end of the day, it should be vitally important for the Chiefs to hit on pure talent and resume while aiming to shore up immediate needs early on.
As mentioned before, the offensive line is a huge topic of discussion around Kansas City currently, so I was fortunate to land one of the draft’s top tackles in Eichenberg, who we could see start Day 1 at either tackle spot. Long-term, the expectation for the Notre Dame product should be a franchise left tackle.
From there, I would have liked to add another depth option on the offensive line early on in the draft, but the options just didn’t work where the Chiefs were picking. So, the next “weakness” on the roster is on the defensive side.
When looking at the roster going into the draft, basically every starter other than Charvarius Ward is returning, so that bodes well here. However, the linebacker group and pass rush group certainly weren’t highlights of the 2020 season, so I selected both McGrone and Dimukeje.
McGrone, a pure 4-3 Mike linebacker, is a versatile defensive coordinator’s dream. Much like Willie Gay Jr., McGrone has the unique ability to thump in the trenches and to drop in coverage in the zone. With Hitchens’ contract set to expire in 2022, grabbing the future starter is key here.
Dimukeje is a perfect 4-3 defensive end. His ability to work the edge and also work interior gaps is a perfect fit for what the Chiefs need. Alex Okafor is returning on a 1-year contract in this situation, which allows the team to work Dimukeje in with time to develop.
From there, I head back to the offense with Sermon, Imatorbhebhe, and Jaimes. (I promise I’m not drafting guys for the unique last names…)
Sermon is a prototypical starter in a committee at running back. While we project to keep Damien Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire through this off-season, a guy like Sermon is the perfect replacement for Darrel Williams in the rotation.
Imatorbhebhe is the perfect replacement on the backend of the rotation, with Byron Pringle projected to fill in the Demarcus Robinson spot. With top-notch route running and strong hands, Imatorbhebhe is an ideal developmental wide receiver.
Jaimes is very underrated in my opinion. Having played a lot of tackle and guard in college, most project him as a right tackle prospect, but I believe that he could be an idea depth option on the interior, much like Mike Remmers was originally signed to provide.
53-Man Roster Projection
QB – Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne (2)
RB – Damien Williams, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Trey Sermon (R), Darwin Thompson (4)
FB – Anthony Sherman (1)
WR – Tyreek Hill, Rashard Higgins, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Josh Imatorbhebhe (R), Antonio Callaway (6)
TE – Travis Kelce, Tre Burton, Nick Keizer (3)
OT – Mitchell Schwartz, Lucas Niang, Liam Eichenberg (R), Martinas Rankin, Yasir Durant (5)
G – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Kelechi Osemele, Bryan Witzmann, Brenden Jaimes (R) (4)
C- Austin Reiter, Nick Allegretti (2)
DL – Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton (4)
DE – Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Michael Danna, Victor Dimukeje (R) (4)
LB – Anthony Hitchens, Willie Gay Jr., Damien Wilson, Cameron McGrone (R), Dorian O’Daniel (5)
CB – Bashaud Breeland, L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Deandre Baker, Antonio Hamilton, Alex Brown (6)
FS – Tyrann Mathieu, Armani Watts (2)
SS – Juan Thornhill, Bopete Keyes (2)
K – Harrison Butker
P – Tommy Townsend
LS – James Winchester
*Projected starters listed in bold
Note: Again, keeping the roster primarily intact was important here, but you can see that there are a few rookies right off the bat that could have big roles for the Chiefs. In the end, I believe this roster would again be primed for a deep postseason run and now features more depth on the offensive line and defensive side of the ball.
How did I do Chiefs Kingdom? Give me some pointers or notes below!