Kansas City Chiefs: Cam Erving is the new Zach Fulton
By Matt Conner
Andy Reid said that Cam Erving will apparently be operating in much the same position(s) as Zach Fulton did for the last couple years for the Chiefs.
One of the single biggest losses of the offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs was the exodus of Zach Fulton. While Fulton hasn’t occupied a starting role, per se, as most of us picture it, along the offensive line, the reality was that Fulton was, in reality, a starter at multiple positions for the Chiefs over his tenure.
As they say, a player’s greatest ability is his availability and Fulton proved that maxim time and again.
Fulton finally wrapped his rookie deal in 2017, and free agency rewarded him handsomely with a four-year deal from the Houston Texans worth up to $28 million. That’s quite a step up from the slotted contract he signed as a sixth round pick back in 2014 (during which he averaged just under $600K per year).
The Chiefs weren’t going to be able to match or best the Texans’ offer, so it’s no surprise that Fulton took the deal. In response to the loss (or perhaps in anticipation of it), Brett Veach traded a fifth round pick from this year’s draft to the Cleveland Browns for Cameron Erving, a former first round selection who has been largely labeled a bust for his first two years in the league.
Erving’s contract is up after this season, so this is a big year for him. While he’s not starting for the Chiefs even after learning their system for the last year, he is being placed into Fulton’s slot as a versatile interior linemen who can step in when called upon. And as starting center Mitch Morse has been unable to practice due to rehabilitation of his foot injury, Erving is getting the reps.
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Andy Reid spoke to reporters after this week’s mandatory minicamp and said the plan for Erving was to step in for Morse until the center was ready.
"“If Mitch doesn’t, then Cam (Erving) will be in there. Cam took all the snaps this offseason. I thought he actually did a good job in there. We’ll see how he does. That’s what he was drafted as.”"
As Fulton showed last year, a player doesn’t have to be a penciled-in starter in order to make significant money in free agency. Offensive lines across the league have serious needs, so if Erving can make good on his potential in this contract year with the Chiefs, he could also cash in on the free agent market next spring.
While it would be another FA loss for the Chiefs if Erving just walks, the reality is that if Erving is paid even fairly well, it will mean good things for Veach’s experiment to buy-low on another under-appreciated resource. If not, the Chiefs will need to find someone else, because as Fulton showed, someone simply has to be available.