Bashaud Breeland, young cornerbacks and a tough choice for KC Chiefs

Feb 4, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland during practice as they prepare for Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mandatory Credit: Steve Sanders/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Feb 4, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Bashaud Breeland during practice as they prepare for Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mandatory Credit: Steve Sanders/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports /

In some ways we have our answer. In other ways, we’re still inferring quite a bit about the situation between the K.C. Chiefs and cornerback Bashaud Breeland. In the end, it looks like a tough call for the player and a tough choice for a franchise.

On Friday, the Minnesota Vikings were able to sign cornerback Bashaud Breeland to a reported  one-year deal worth $4 million. The signing ended the “will they or won’t they?” discussion had all season when it comes to the Chiefs and Breeland, a scenario in which both partners clearly wanted to dance, at least according to rumors, but somehow nothing ever surfaced.

The answer became clear earlier this week in a single line buried in a longer quote from Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. When addressing questions from reporters, he began to discuss the team’s plans for second-year cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. It was here that he also stated, “We really need to find out what we have in the ‘other corners’ — if that makes sense.”  Within a couple days, Breeland was in Minnesota.

When Spagnuolo spoke to that need, fans everywhere nodded their heads—that is, if they heard the quote. The Chiefs have a significant number of brow-raising talents at cornerback this offseason with the potential for a deep and young base of players who will compete for meaningful reps. The team also has a number of significant question marks with the potential for a great need by the time the regular season rolls around.

The Chiefs faced a tough call with their cornerbacks and Bashaud Breeland.

L’Jarius Sneed was the initial subject of Spags’ quote as a dynamic rookie corner coming into his second year. But here’s the thing about NFL corners: very few of them are as consistent as we want them to be. The nature of the position and the mentality needed to play it can cause performances to look pretty mercurial. Think of Marcus Cooper as a rookie or Sean Smith’s play over the years or even Marcus Peters for the Chiefs. Look at A.J. Bouye after a big contract or the initial play from Jeff Okudah. You get the idea.

Back to Sneed. There’s no guarantee that the former late fourth round pick is going to come in and be the sort of lockdown option he was last season. Charvarius Ward’s play fell off last season—speaking of mercurial—but is back in ’21 in a contract season. Will he elevate his play and earn himself a lucrative deal next year at this time?

What about the biggest question marks of all in former first-round picks Deandre Baker and Mike Hughes? Baker was the first corner selected in the ’19 draft and started 15 games that year for the New York Giants. A drama-filled offseason and legal clouds hovered overhead enough for the Giants to cut ties, and the Chiefs took a long time on-boarding him in K.C. after he signed. However, he looked the part in a (very) short stint in Week 17 before breaking his leg.

As for Hughes, he’s also a former first rounder who has had problems with both injuries and inconsistency over the years. Some players just need a change of environment and it’s possible the Chiefs coaches are able to unlock something here. But the team paid a pittance for the opportunity to play him here, so expectations are low. To lump the two players together feels disingenuous, especially to Baker, but both are question marks, as Spags said.

Beyond them are low-round talents taken in successive drafts. Rashad Fenton has played fairly well for what you’d expect from a former sixth round corner. BoPete Keyes is likely competing for a special teams role that Antonio Hamilton occupied last season but perhaps there’s more there as well.

All together, the Chiefs have several young cornerbacks who have a history of potential and even production. This was the tension felt all along by the Chiefs decision-makers and fans. But it also looks like it was likely felt by Breeland as well.

Is it possible the Chiefs wanted Breeland to wait to make a decision until much later in the summer? Did they want to see what they had in house first before bringing him back for another year? Or did they offer him a discounted deal knowing his price could go up if the younger guys flamed out in camp? Was Breeland upset by the Chiefs going with unproven talents over his tight coverage proven in big games for two straight Super Bowl seasons?

We’re unlikely to get answers to all of these questions, but at least we know that the Chiefs are rolling the dice at this point. As Spagnuolo said, the team has to figure out what they have and a franchise can only do that if they’re willing to take some risks.

Next. An early prediction of the Chiefs final 53-man roster. dark