Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel (10) talks in the huddle during the first half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

AAMA: Andre Johnson, Roster Weaknesses, And Travis Kelce


Let’s get this started. Addicts, ask me anything…

Interesting question. 

The draft is starting to make me re-think what the Chiefs are doing at wide receiver. I entered the draft thinking depth was the key at receiver because of how much Andy Reid likes to spread the ball around. It would seem useful to have a lot of niche guys who were good at specific things as opposed to trying to find the next A.J. Green. A number one receiver in Reid’s offense is pretty overrated. 

Then the Chiefs went out and basically drafted no receivers in a class deep at receiver. Technically we could probably count De’Anthony Thomas as a receiver but he’s more of a flex guy like Dexter McCluster was supposed to be. 

Because my thoughts are not fully formed on the receiver position, I am going to pass on including them in the Chiefs’ weaknesses for now. I’ll revisit the position later.

Aside from the receiver quandary, the clear issues for the Chiefs are in offensive line depth and interior pass rush. Simple question which has a scary answer: What do the Chiefs do if Eric Fisher gets hurt? There is no Donald Stephenson ready to fill in at a moments notice like last season, unless we have a tremendous belief in Jeff Linkenbach to be that guy. Fisher and Stephenson staying healthy are going to be huge needs for the Chiefs. 

Aside from Dontari Poe, who is bringing a pass rush up the middle? Kansas City drafted Dee Ford to help give an extra wave to the pass rush but he is a clear edge rusher. Can we trust in seventh round pick Mike Catapano to take a leap and be a productive secondary pass rusher? Is Vance Walker and Poe a disruptive enough combination to keep blockers off of Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Ford? I’m not certain the Chiefs are as deep as they’d like to be on the defensive line right now when it comes to rushing the passer.

Financially speaking, adding Johnson wouldn’t makes sense. Including his roster bonuses, the Chiefs would owe him $34.5 million over the next three years to keep him on the roster. That’s a great deal of money for a 32 year-old receiver who has combine to catch 11 touchdown passes (two fewer than favorite whipping boy Dwayne Bowe) over the last three seasons.

This isn’t to say Johnson is horrible or that Bowe is a better receiver than Johnson, because neither or those things is the case. However, Kansas City is looking for explosive plays out of their offense and Johnson may be past the point where he can provide that for an offense. And at a $11 million and change per season for an aging player? I’m not sure that makes sense.

 

Anthony Fasano is probably going to get the designation of “starter” but Travis Kelce has a chance to see a significant amount of snaps. The more snaps he sees then it may be fair to say the Chiefs will be better off as an offense for it.

Kelce is one of those matchup problems the Chiefs were missing in the offense. He can be spread out as a wide receiver, moved around in the backfield, or lined up as a true tight end. Everything about him seems to go hard, and his aggressiveness as a blocker should pay off for the Chiefs in running and screen game. There’s a lot to love about this kid.

Tight ends are crucial to Andy Reid’s offense and Kelce has tremendous potential to be a very good one. Kansas City has issues at wide receiver, no doubt, but running backs and tight ends are the engines to what Reid likes to do on offense. Missing Kelce and Tony Moeaki for the full season plus having Fasano missing several games due to injury really limited the ceiling for the Chiefs passing game. Remember, Alex Smith’s favorite target in San Francisco was not Michael Crabtree but Vernon Davis. Getting quality play out of the tight end cannot be overstated.

Here’s a quick reminder of what Kelce brings to the table based on an infallible YouTube highlight video:

      

There are probably a lot of players who are going to be gone next year based what what the Chiefs have done the last two drafts, what they’ll be able to acquire in the next year (looking at 11 picks), and their cap situation. While those moves probably don’t come in-season, it wouldn’t be shocking if next March we see another roster purge.

SEAN SMITH

The Chiefs draft Phillip Gaines in the third round and he’s likely to see a lot of action throughout this season. Many will point to this being the end for Brandon Flowers, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he stays around for another year. The guy I really think is in trouble is Sean Smith.

Smith will be the sixth highest cap hit for the Chiefs in 2014 and will occupy $7.75 million in cap space in 2015. Cutting him saves the Chiefs about $5.5 million. Given what Flowers bring to the table as a Pro Bowl defensive back, Smith’s value related to how much cap space he is occupying is not nearly as efficient as Flowers. Cutting Smith gives the Chiefs the salary cap flexibility they would need while still keeping an excellent cornerback.

MIKE DEVITO

Another one of the Chiefs’ free agent hauls from a year ago, Mike DeVito is schedule to eat up $5.4 million in cap space in 2015 and would save the Chiefs $4 million if cut. DeVito is very good against the run and was a valuable upgrade for the Chiefs’ defensive line in replacement of Glenn Dorsey.

But with a big draft class on the horizon and the ability to fill what DeVito does cheaply in the draft, don’t be surprised in DeVito is let go.

CHASE DANIEL

The battle between Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray this preseason is going to be very interesting. Bray holds the advantage of youth, upside, and a very small cap number while Daniel has experience, is the most qualified backup quarterback of the group, and a good locker room guy.

No matter what happens this summer, one would think Daniel is gone by this time next year. John Dorsey comes from the camp of adding a quarterback every year, and with a projected 11 picks in next year’s draft there is no reason to think he won’t draft another project in the late rounds. Aaron Murray will be fully healthy and ready to go as the backup, and the Chiefs could certainly use the extra cap space.

Over the Cap has Daniel’s cap hit for 2015 at $4.8 million with a potential savings of $3.8 million if he is cut. The numbers would seem to indicate Daniel will be gone soon if not this season.

Stopping here for a second. Cutting Daniel, Smith, and DeVito would open up about $13.3 million in cap space for 2015. Two of those players – Daniel and DeVito – are backups. (Yes, I know DeVito is technically a starter but  in 446 snaps in 2014. That’s fewer snaps than Allen Bailey saw.) Those three cuts should be more than enough for the Chiefs to re-sign Justin Houston and Alex Smith plus add a draft class and add a free agent or two. If the Chiefs can cut two backups and a replaceable starter and open up so much cap room then why part ways with Flowers or Tamba Hali?

What happens with Hali is going to be geared more towards his production and trend this year than cap space. He only has one year left on his deal after 2014 and can be easily retained after 2015 for a much lower cost if the Chiefs see a reason to keep him. The Chiefs are better off letting him play out his contract than cutting him.

Dorsey and Reid appear to be looking for waves of pass rush, not necessary two designated pass rusher that go full boar all season long. Seattle is the model for this, and it is a smart one given how much faster offenses are moving now. Hali for 500 snaps and Ford for 500 snaps at the same position may mean better production than just having Hali run amuck for 1,000 snaps. It probably also means Hali is a more effective and healthier player come January.

Flowers, to me, is a better fit than we give him credit for in Bob Sutton’s defense. He was played out of position against Dez Bryant and Eric Decker plus was playing hurt, and those seem to be the things sticking in people’s minds with Flowers. A healthy Flowers who is not required to go man-to-man on receivers over 6-2 will help Flowers a great deal. Flower’s was one of the Chiefs’ best performers in the playoff game against the Colts and has a history of being an excellent corner. For a team with needs in the secondary it would seem silly to cut one of the better players you have as opposed to finding a way to make him fit in the defense.

VANCE WALKER JOKE OF THE WEEK

Have a good second half of the week, Addicts!

Tags: AAMA Kansas City Chiefs

  • redchiefs

    Loved the Kelce tape, but that sound track was way offensive.

    • Ben Nielsen

      Yeah, sorry for not giving a heads up on that. Apologies.

  • BWrangler

    Kelce has the skills to be a very good TE, but he’s already on the injury tracker for me, a la Moeaki. He’s missed his rookie year and has a lot of catching up to do. That being said, I’m looking forward to see him on the field with an arrowhead on his helmet.

    • berttheclock

      So will Dave Toub who was using him on Special Teams a great deal.

  • Andy

    Yep, how good, healthy, and how fast the OL gels , is how good we will be this year. We will defiantly have to look at the waiver wire.

  • sidibeke

    Walker is funny.

  • sidibeke

    How sweet, the thought of having a legit threat at TE. Love seeing him run away from LBs.

  • Hawthorne

    If Cooper keeps developing, we could have Flowers in the slot, and Gaines and Cooper on the outside, that would be a killer secondary. If we could clear enough cap space to keep Hali and Houston another year that would amazing. Don’t be surprised if Aaron Murray is good enough in training camp for them to part ways with Daniel this year.

  • micah stephenson

    So get rid of most of the free agents Dorsey brought in last yr. I felt he paid too many people too much. Now we, oops I mean he, got to fix it.