Kendall Fuller deserves an extension from the Kansas City Chiefs
By Drew Brooks
The Kansas City Chiefs spent time upgrading the secondary this offseason. But when it comes down to it, did they forget about the cornerback position again?
The Kansas City Chiefs heard cries to fix the secondary this offseason and made moves by signing safety Tyrann Mathieu and drafting Juan Thornhill, a versatile safety who can play cornerback if needed. While they lost cornerback Steven Nelson to the Steelers in free agency, they signed Bashaud Breeland. They also signed Keith Reaser, who was a standout corner in the Alliance of American Football; however, they lost him for the season with a torn achilles in training camp.
Between Mathieu, Thornhill, Breeland, and the pieces already in place, the Chiefs’ secondary is undoubtedly better than it was last season. However, though it’s better, it still has a way to go. Cornerback is still clearly the Chiefs’ weakest position, and it appears the Chiefs will struggle there for the time coming.
Looking down the road it appears that the Chiefs forgot about cornerback. The Chiefs already signed defensive end Frank Clark to a massive five-year $105.5 million deal, and are still in contract negotiations with star defensive lineman Chris Jones. Jones’ deal is expected to be something similar to Clark’s, earning him around $20 million a year.
The Chiefs are also still looking at extending wide receiver Tyreek Hill, though the deal is unlikely to be the mega deal that we expected before the Hill saga. Add to that the record-setting deal to extend quarterback Patrick Mahomes expected next year, the Chiefs won’t have much cap space to spare.
This brings into question what the Chiefs plan to do with cornerback Kendall Fuller, who they acquired in January 2018 from the Alex Smith trade. At just 24-years old, Fuller is entering the prime of his career. He’s entering his fourth season in the NFL and coming off a year where he started 15 out of 15 games as well as 2 postseason games. Last year he was able to come away with 2 interceptions, 12 passes defended, and 82 tackles.
Fuller was one of the NFL’s best slot corners in 2017, and this year it appears he’ll be playing there more with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo saying:
"“Kendall’s going to master that nickel spot. In emergencies and at times, he may go outside, but I think that’s a natural position for him.”"
If Fuller plays like he did in 2017, it will be hard for the Chiefs to let him walk. And if the Chiefs let him walk, fans would riot. So why does it appear that the Chiefs are not planning on re-signing Fuller?
Fuller is playing on the final year of his contract this season, and if he plays like he’s capable, he should earn a contract similar to that of fellow slot cornerback Kenny Moore. Moore signed a 4-year extension with the Colts earlier this year worth over $36 million to become the NFL’s highest paid slot corner.
But via Over the Cap, the Chiefs only have a little over $18 million of cap space next season. Factoring in the Chris Jones extension, there doesn’t appear to be enough money to keep Fuller around. When the NFL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is negotiated, the cap is likely to go up in 2021 and future seasons, but, in terms of next season, the Chiefs don’t seem to have a plan in place for focusing on cornerback.
Currently, the Chiefs have the second least amount of money invested in cornerback for the 2019 season—only around $10 million. Resigning Fuller to the money he’s capable of earning or signing another standout corner would more than double what the Chiefs have invested in their corners.
On top of this, Breeland is only signed to a one-year deal. If the Chiefs let both Fuller and Breeland walk, they will have to spend yet another year drafting and rebuilding their corners. When will they finally take the step to invest in a solid player like Kendall Fuller and build around him?
Letting Kendall Fuller walk in his prime would be a huge mistake for the Chiefs; however, right now it looks like the Chiefs are okay with letting him go. It begs the question as to whether or not the Chiefs truly care about how their cornerbacks play and whether or not they will ever invest in a star corner to build around.