The NFL Combine is over, and free agency is just around the corner. In Kansas City, the Chiefs have already put in motion some key moves for this offseason.
Anthony Hitchens was cut, saving $8.4 million in space. Tyreek Hill is in talks on an extension, with reports estimating it around the four-year, $85 million range. The Chiefs will be putting the franchise tag on Orlando Brown Jr. soon, but I fully expect them to have a contract worked out with him by the time training camp starts in July.
But many more moves are coming this offseason, and this mock will be my view of what that should look like. I tried to lean my decisions into what I think the Chiefs would realistically do. For example, I would love to trade Chris Jones, but I did not. I would not have brought back Brown, but the Chiefs are, so there is no need to mock that. So, let’s go through this and then wait and see how much me and Brett Veach can agree.
Pre Free Agency
Starting cap space: $11,498,149
- Release Frank Clark (DE): saves $13.4 million
- Extend Tyreek Hill (WR) to a four year, $86 million deal: saves $16 million
- Restructure Patrick Mahomes (QB): saves $21 million
- Restructure Joe Thuney (G): saves $9.6 million
I wish I could cut Clark after June 1st to save more cap space, but that isn’t realistic. We need the money in early free agency, and it’s only fair to Clark to give him the most time to find a new team. Hill’s contract extension is warranted, and at that price would be a steal to me. I was ready to make that a $100 million extension, but reports have it closer to $85, so I went with that.
Thuney and Mahomes are both contracts that can easily be restructured. The contracts are long enough to extend the bonus money push the can to go far enough down the road. Yes, they will need to address that can at some point, but the farther down the road, the longer they have to plan for that. These restrictions can give them needed space now while giving them plenty of time to adjust for them in the future.
I would love to trade Jones to get more picks and cap room, as I said before. I love Jones, the man, and I love Jones, the regular-season player. But someone who makes over $20 million a year can’t play in 11 playoff games and not record a single sack. Think about it, name one play he made in the 2022 postseason that made you say he is worth $20 million? But this is a realistic post, and the Chiefs aren’t trading Jones.
Starting Cap Space: $60 million
- Re-sign Melvine Ingram (DE) to two-year, $12 million deal: cost six million dollars in 2022
- Re-sign Orlando Brown Jr (LT) to five-year, $115 million deal: cost $10 million in 2022
- Sign Von Miller (DE) to two-year, $22 million deal: cost $10 million in 2022
- Sign JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR) to three-year, $27 million deal: cost $7.5 million in 2022
- Sign Chris Harris (CB) to two-year, $14 million deal: cost five million dollars in 2022
- Sign Devin McCourty (S) to a two-year $12 million deal: cost six million dollars in 2022
- Re-sign Mike Hughes (CB) to a one-year $1.5 million deal
- Re-sign Byron Pringle (WR) to a one-year $2.5 million deal
- Re-sign Jerrick McKinnon (RB) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Derrick Gore (RB) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Michael Burton (RB) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Andrew Wylie (T) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Dorian O’Daniel (LB) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Armani Watts (S) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
- Re-sign Jody Fortson (TE) to a one-year, league-minimum deal
Note: More signings would facilitate the 90 man roster needed for training camp. But these signings are the ones that are done with the 53 men regular-season roster in mind. Also, this was made before Orlando Brown’s franchise tag news.
I would have loved to let Orlando Brown walk. I know, that makes me one of maybe three people in Kansas City who thinks that way. He is very good, but I don’t think he’s worth $23 million a year. But if I’m going to pay big money, a solid tackle is the least likely to backfire. They don’t tend to fall off the way other positions do, so while he may not earn the full contract, he’ll earn most of it.
The Chiefs want to sure up the defensive line and improve their pass rush this off-season. Bringing in Von Miller is a big step towards achieving that goal. Even at age 32 in his 11th season, Miller still got 9.5 sacks for the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams. The new team and competing for a ring appeared to stoke the fire inside Miller.
Even at his age, he maintained his high motor and was a true threat to every tackle across from him. Bringing back Ingram and signing Miller gives the Chiefs two veteran above-average pass rushers. Combined with Jones in the middle, those three should move the Chiefs at worst into the top 20 in sacks in 2022.
JuJu Smith-Schuster made a mistake in 2021 when he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of the Chiefs. He bet on himself there and recorded less than 200 yards receiving. We all know that had more to do with the decline of Ben Roethlisberger, but no team is paying him top wideout money with that production. I think he wants a home and financial security, and he’d find both of those in Kansas City on a multi-year deal. It’s not Hill money, but it’s a solid contract for a veteran of his standing. He is also still young enough at 25 to look forward to his next contract. Three years catching from Mahomes should have him ready for an even bigger deal then.
If you read my earlier article, you know I want the Chiefs to move L’Jarius Sneed to safety. They are not bringing back Tyrann Mathieu; I’m sorry, guys. We all love Mathieu, the man, and the leader, but the on-field production is not worth $15 million more per year or more. Sneed would fill this whole wonderfully, in my opinion. Of course, that leaves a hole at the corner, and if you don’t move him, you have a hole at safety. I made a signing for both holes and depth.
Chris Harris and Devin McCourty would both be great veterans in the secondary. They are guys near the end of their careers, but they do still have a year or two left of good football in them. Their deals would not need to be expensive as they are ring chasing more than the money. So lock them up to a couple of reasonable deals and let them finish out their careers on top. As veterans who have seen it all, they should be able to transition to Steve Spagnuolo’s system without a problem.
The rest of the guys I have us bringing back are good players who fill the rotational gaps in the roster. There is nothing fancy, nothing exciting about them, but those are guys you need at the bottom of your roster.
Starting Cap Space: Six million dollars
- Round One, Pick 30: Boye Mafe, DE, Minnesota
- Round Two, Pick 62: John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
- Round Three, Pick 94: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Nebraska
- Round Three, Pick 102: Quay Walker, LB, Georgia
- Round Four, Pick 133: John Ridgeway, IDL, Arkansas
- Round Six, Pick 189: Leon O’Neal Jr, S, Texas A&M
- Round Seven, Pick 230: Isaiah Pola-Mao, S, USC
- Round Seven, Pick 240: Michael Clemons, DE, Texas A&M
- Round Seven, Pick 248: D’Vonte Price, RB, Florida International
The Chiefs are looking for a roster change over in 2022, and they will need a good draft class to help do that. You have seen in the free agency a shift in players already that will continue with this draft class.
They will start with a quality pass-rushing edge player in Boye Mafe. He’s a senior out of Minnesota who improved every year in college. His main asset is great speed off the edge, something the Chiefs haven’t had in the last couple of years. Mafe doesn’t just rely only on speed, though; he uses that speed to set up tackles to use power and finesse moves if that tackle wants to cheat. With the veterans I signed, Mafe would be a great rotational piece in year one, looking at taking over a starting job in year two.
I went wide receiver next as the Chiefs will need more weapons even after the JuJu signing. Metchie would have been an easy first-round pick if not for his torn ACL in the SEC championship game. Alabama coach Nick Saban has called him “the epitome of what a wide receiver is.” That is pretty strong words from a coach with multiple first-round wide receivers to his resume.
With Hill, Juju, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle coming back, Metchie would have time to heal from his injury. He wouldn’t be rushed to get back to camp for a desperate need. He can heal and learn the offense starting the year and would likely be a sure weapon by playoff time.
The rest of the draft leans heavily to the defensive side of the ball. Cam Taylor-Britt is a big physical corner that fits well into the mold that Steve Spagnulo likes. Quay Walker would be a solid third linebacker alongside Willie Gay Jr and Nick Bolton. He’s smart, athletic and I think he could pick up Spags system quickly if they give him a chance. John Ridgeway is a monster-run stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. Won’t give you much in terms of pass rush, but he’s a beast in the run game.
The draft finishes up with multiple low-risk high potential guys—safety depth with Leon O’Neal Jr and Isaiah Pola-Mao. There are a couple of big school prospects who have some question marks but the high upside you look for in the later rounds. The same goes for EDGE rusher Michael Clemons from Texas A&M. The draft finishes with a running back in D’Vonte Price that reminds me of poor man’s Jamaal Charles.
53-Man Roster Projection
QB – Patrick Mahomes, Shane Buechele
RB – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon, Derrick Gore, D’Vonte Price (R)
FB – Michael Burton
WR – Tyreek Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, John Metchie III (R), Daurice Fountain
TE – Travis Kelce, Jordy Fortson, Noah Gray, Blake Bell
OT – Orlando Brown Jr, Lucas Niang, Andrew Wylie, Prince Wanogho
OG – Joe Thuney, Trey Smith, Nick Allegretti
C – Creed Humphrey, Darryl Williams
DT – Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton, John Ridgeway (R)
DE – Von Miller, Melvin Ingram, Boye Mafe (R), Michael Danna, Joshua Kaindoh, Mike Clemons (R)
LB – Nick Bolton, Willie Gay Jr, Quay Walker, Dorian O’Daniel
CB – Rashad Fenton, Chris Harris, L’Jarius Sneed, Cam Taylor-Britt, Mike Hughes
S – Devin McCourty, Juan Thornhill, Armani Watts, Leon O’Neal, Isaiah Pola-Mao
Special Teams (3)
K – Harrison Butker
P – Tommy Townsend
LS – James Winchester
What are your thoughts on this Kansas City Chiefs’ mock offseason? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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