“We’ve been in situations the last half dozen years plus where we have more talented football players than we have salary cap space,” Clark Hunt said. “We’ll have to make some tough decisions. The reality is we’re never going to be able to hang on to all of the free agents. That’s what Brett Veach and his staff have the pleasure of doing in the offseason. There’s a lot of hard decisions they have to make.”
Indeed, the Kansas City Chiefs have a long list of players coming out as free agents this year, players who might have played their last game against the Patriots at the end of January 2019.
While the Chiefs aren’t going to find themselves in a horrible position in terms of cap space in 2019, they do have a lot of pending free agents and players eligible for new contracts. Among them are, to only name a few, Chris Conley, Dee Ford, Steven Nelson, and Mitch Morse.
20 players that currently count against the 53-man roster for the Chiefs are set to be free agents in 2019.
Some players won’t be cheap to keep, others will rather be seen as a bargain and a huge opportunity for growth next year. So many choices the Chiefs will make during this offseason will be crucial to start on a good base next September.
Obviously, everybody in Kansas City is well aware that free agents like Ford or Nelson, who both showed great potential this season, will be in the mix in the team’s big offseason decision.
But what about all the other players? Let’s take a look.
Who would deserve to stay for this brilliant coming season, and who would deserve to be let go?
From the offensive side of the ball, Spencer Ware, Anthony Sherman, and Jordan Devey could be three interesting options to reinforce the roster without spending lots of money.
Spencer battled a rough injury last year, came back in shape and became first in his position after Kareem Hunt’s release. Unfortunately for him, a hamstring injury kept him away from the field for four games and allowed Damien Williams to shine. Nonetheless, he is still a steady player for the Chiefs offense.
The Chiefs might have the most interest in bringing back Devey, who was a free agent heading into 2018 but was brought back on a one-year deal. The 31-year old offensive lineman is coming off a torn pectoral muscle but should be good to go next year.
Anthony Sherman is another fan favorite and revealed himself to be a pretty good option alongside Mahomes. It looks like the Chiefs will keep him at least another year as he brings weight to the offense and the special teams unit.
On the defensive side of the ball, there are plenty of players ready to show what they are capable of next year. Among them are Jordan Lucas, who has shown enough throughout the season so that the Chiefs would want to keep him around for another year. His best features: aggressiveness and resilience.
And then there is the Dee Ford case. Ford has become the biggest fish in this free agent group. He seems like a prime candidate for the tag, given the fact he’s had some injury issues in the past and the Chiefs might want to see him perform at his current level for one more year before committing to him for the long term. Either way, he’s going to get paid significantly in 2019.
On the other hand, Allen Bailey, 30, also had a solid season (38 tackles and a career-high six sacks with two forced fumbles). He’s spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Kansas City after being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft out of Miami and has a total of 190 tackles and 19.5 sacks.
On a more negative note, offensive players such as Conley, Morse or Demetrius Harris could be faces of other teams next season and be let go by the Chiefs.
Conley is the third option in the wide receiver department, miles and miles away from Hill and Watkins. Although he finished the regular season with 32 catches for 334 yards and five touchdowns, it looks like he’ll be expecting a bigger pay and, given his results and what the team is trying to achieve for next season, it would be better letting him go and finding a younger and hungrier talent.
Morse is also clearly on the fence. The fact that the Chiefs have already decided to give an extension to Austin Reiter, who was in the starting lineup while Morse missed time due to a concussion in 2018 and impressed coaches with his play, is not a good sign.
Another big question mark is Harris. The basketball-player-turned-turned-tight-end has been on the roster for a few years now. His career numbers reflect his 51 catches, 538 yards, and five touchdowns over the course of just five seasons. Recruiting a better second tight end to replace Harris (and more importantly, Travis Kelce in case of an injury) would not be such a bad idea.
On the defense, quite a few players could be let go as well. The cornerbacks have had a shaky season. Orlando Scandrick could pay the price of his mediocre performance this season. Nelson, on the other hand, could be a more intriguing move. He has performed well in 2018, better than expected alongside Kendall Fuller, but he could be worth a good amount of money on the market if let go.
Based on this craziness, it looks like Brett Veach has difficult decisions to make in this offseason. Some moves will be purely economical to free up some salary cap space. Other moves will allow the team to draft or recruit better players at some key positions and reinforce the whole team.
Don’t get too attached to any player because that’s how the NFL rolls. It’s a constant wave of players coming in and going out the door each and every year.