The Kansas City Chiefs should be free agent bargain hunters

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 03: Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, left, and general manager Brett Veach, right, watch pregame warmups prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium on November 3, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 03: Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, left, and general manager Brett Veach, right, watch pregame warmups prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium on November 3, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs have enough top end talent on their roster. So this free agent period should be about finding smart bargains.

The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs are now two weeks out from their historic win in Super Bowl LIV. While the euphoria of the win still lingers, attention has now definitely started to turn towards the fast approaching start of NFL free agency. While the official start date of free agency (March 18th) is only a month away the Chiefs will have to start making important decisions about their team even before that day arrives. If things play out how I expect them to, it could prove to be a pretty quiet year for the Chiefs in terms of free agent additions.

The first big date for the Chiefs this offseason is only about a week away. February 25th marks the start of the period where teams can apply the franchise tag to potential free agents on their roster. I feel very confident that the Chiefs will use the franchise tag this season on Chris Jones to prevent him from hitting the open market. There has been some fan speculation on the Chiefs potentially trading Jones to pick up draft picks and free up cap space, but I truly believe that when the Chiefs take the field this fall Jones will still be wearing a Chiefs uniform.

My basic belief is that the Kansas City Chiefs have enough “stars” on their roster to win another Super Bowl, assuming they keep Chris Jones. The trio of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce on offense and the trio of Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, and Jones on defense give the Chiefs big-time playmakers they need to win a championship. We know that to be true because we just watched it happen. What the Chiefs and General Manager Brett Veach need to do now is keep that core group intact and surround them with enough solid players to get the job done.

Would it be nice to add an All-Pro cornerback, linebacker, and interior offensive lineman to this roster? Sure it would, but there is only so much cap space to work with, and you can’t have big name Pro Bowl caliber players at every starting position. That is why I believe the Chiefs focus this offseason will be on re-signing Jones, extending Patrick Mahomes, focusing on the NFL Draft, and finding solid contributors at a reasonable price in free agency.

I simply don’t believe the Chiefs, even if they made multiple cuts to free up cap space, are going to be players in the rush of big-money/big-name player deals that happen at the start of free agency. That is when teams have to pay top dollar.

Two years ago, the Chiefs really needed a linebacker and another receiver, so they had to go out and overpay for Anthony Hitchens and Sammy Watkins. You can argue that it worked out for the Chiefs because both were starters on a Super Bowl winning team, but in terms of actual production, neither has come close to production that is proportion to their pay grade. I believe Watkins will be released as a cap casualty for that reason. Frankly Hitchens would be too if his contract didn’t have so much guaranteed money left on it.

Last season, the Chiefs desperately needed leaders for their new defense under Steve Spagnuolo. They had to give up significant draft capital for Frank Clark and then sign him to a massive deal. Then they went out and committed serious money on Tyrann Mathieu. Those deals paid off as those two were very much the heart and soul of an improved defense that helped them win a Super Bowl.

The Chiefs simply don’t have those massive holes that they need to overpay for right now. They aren’t in such desperate need of leaders and/or playmakers that they need to get in a bidding war for anyone this offseason. I know it’s exciting to look over the big name players that are about to hit the open market and put together a wish list, but this team doesn’t need more Watkins and/or Mathieu-esque signings. What they need is for Veach to continue to find guys like Bashaud Breeland, Mike Pennel, and Stefen Wisniewski who can be valuable starters at a reasonable price.

The only exception to this bargain deal approach could be at cornerback. With both Breeland and Kendall Fuller set to become free agents, the Chiefs may have to go out and pay for a starting-caliber cornerback. If they could re-sign Breeland to a team-friendly deal for two or three years, that may work, but he may be looking for a bigger payday after losing out on one last season before signing with the Chiefs. Still, don’t expect the Chiefs to get in a bidding war for a guy like Byron Jones. Maybe a guy like Chris Harris who is starting to get towards the back end of his career would be willing to take less to come to Kansas City and make another Super Bowl run, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

In fact, if the Chiefs were going to give out a decent sized contract to a cornerback this offseason, they might be smart to give it to Charvarius Ward. Ward is entering the final year of his contract and if the Chiefs could give him a significant pay raise now it could save them from having to overpay to keep him or risk losing the talented corner who will turn just 24 this offseason. He and Rashad Fenton are the only true corners with playing experience that are currently under contract for the Chiefs for next season (Mathieu obviously has played slot CB at times as well). So something will need to be done here, I just don’t expect it to be a big time free agent acquisition.

The good news is that Brett Veach has shown an ability to find guys that can be solid contributors at a bargain price. I already mentioned Breeland, Pennel, and Wisniewski. Charvarius Ward is another fine example, who came over from the Dallas Cowboys in return for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Parker Ehinger. Damien Williams, who you can argue should have been the Super Bowl MVP, was a guy Veach brought in on a cheap free agent deal (and then extended).

Damien Wilson played valuable snaps at linebacker this year. Emmanuel Ogbah was arguably the Chiefs best defensive lineman early in the season before getting injured. Heck, the entire interior offensive line has been made up of late round draft picks and cheap free agents during Veach’s tenure as GM.

If the Chiefs do cut Watkins and let Demarcus Robinson walk in free agency, the Chiefs may be on the market for another contributor at wide receiver. I just wouldn’t hold out hope that they sign another big name guy. I believe the interior offensive line could still use some help, but I don’t expect them to go out and spend big on a guy like Brandon Scherff. They’re much more likely to add a guy more like Wisniewski (or maybe just re-sign Wisniewski himself).

The NFL offseason is an exciting time. It’s fun to see how your favorite team comes together for next season. For the first time in my lifetime the Chiefs aren’t trying to figure out what they need to do become a Super Bowl winning team. Instead, they are focused on how they stay a Super Bowl winning team. While they can’t stay stagnant or other teams will pass them by, I believe they already have the star players they need to win another Super Bowl. That is why I believe their top priority is signing both Chris Jones and Patrick Mahomes to long term deals that will keep them as part of the core of this team for years to come. After that it is just a matter of filling out the rest of the roster through the draft and free agency with enough solid players to keep this team on top.

So my advice to Chiefs fans as the offseason really gets under way is to change your perspective on free agency. The Chiefs won’t win free agency this season by signing the biggest names to the biggest contracts. The Chiefs big contracts will go to guys already on the roster. Winning free agency this year for the Chiefs means coming away with as many solid contributors as possible at a team friendly price. That may mean that other teams get all the headlines and attention during the first week of free agency, but it will be well worth the sacrifice if it means the Chiefs can once again get all the attention and headlines next February.

Next. History is against building another dynasty. dark