Welcome back for Part 2 of the big debate as Nate and Tony continue to butt heads over GM Brett Veach. We now look at Veach’s moves in free agency.
Nate: Overall, I really like Brett Veach as a general manager. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. I have made it clear many times I don’t love many of the moves that Veach has made over the past two offseasons as General Manager. Still, he does a really good job at finding lower-level talent and building depth on the roster. If you compare the Chiefs overall depth, this roster vs. John Dorsey’s teams, I think Veach has done way better at finding depth talent. Overall, I think this is the best overall 90 man roster that has come into training camp in Chiefs history, and a lot of that is due to Brett Veach being a good GM.
Anthony: I think overall Brett Veach has done a poor job of being a general manager since being promoted to the position for the Chiefs. His drafting has been poor, his contracts questionable, and his trades have been downright bad. He has put together a solid roster for the short term by going on spending sprees both in cap space and draft capital, something that any armchair GM could accomplish without the slightest scouting or negotiating skills, while receiving the ultimate gift in Patrick Mahomes via John Dorsey’s MVP trade in 2017. However while I do foresee immediate success for the team, I also see a team that has thrown the only proven model for building a dynasty out the window; that is by building through the draft.
Click here to get caught up on Part 1: The Draft
Nate: Compared to the draft, Brett Veach has a much bigger swing when he signs free agents. In his two offseasons with the team, Veach has made four significant signings; Sammy Watkins, Anthony Hitchens, Tyrann Mathieu, and Alex Okafor.
Starting with Watkins, I still like the signing. Is he paid too much? Absolutely. Watkins is set to make 19 million dollars this season, which is wildly overpriced for him. Still, it really was only a 3 year deal, which is actually a two year deal, once you look at the contract. If he plays well and stays healthy, we can restructure Watkins to stay long-term. If he doesn’t, we can cut him next season, saving 14 million against the cap. With all of our top guys on rookie deals, it made sense to pay big when we had the immediate cap space. I loved the signing last year, and I still do today.
I don’t have those same sentiments for Anthony Hitchens at all. I really didn’t love the contact then, but I especially hate it now. We tied up 45 million for a guy that never was a full-time player for the Cowboys. Even though there was a 3 year out on his contract, it made zero sense to tie all our faith into him getting better, even though he is limited athletically. Let’s hope Spagnuolo can bring out the best in Hitchens, because the Hitchens’ contract is currently the biggest stain on Veach’s legacy.
Now for my favorite move, Tyrann Mathieu. I love this move so much. Mathieu is exactly what the doctor ordered for this team. He can play every single position in the secondary and his mental toughness and leadership are top-notch. Yes, he is getting paid a ton, but as with Sammy Watkins’ contract, it is really only a 2 year deal, with a potential restructure after the second year. I think his contract is fine, and I seriously credit Veach for getting Mathieu.
The last “major” move was signing Alex Okafor this offseason. While he isn’t necessarily the flashiest signing, I really, really loved this move. He does everything well, and in my opinion is one of the most under-the-radar players in the league. Okafor should make an impact against the run, and his versatility is something the Chiefs tend to crave. Out of the 4 major players that Brett Veach has signed in free agency, Okafor just might be the best overall player by value for the price.
Anthony: I don’t even feel the need to discuss the players when it comes to Brett Veach’s free agency prowess. Paying more for a free agent than another team is willing to pay does not make you a good GM. To be clear, this has been the case for all of Veach’s high profile moves. Perhaps year one with an unproven quarterback you can make the case that he might have needed to overpay to get an impact player. But as we sat and watched Patrick Mahomes turn in an MVP season we all discussed how Kansas City would be getting the Mahomes Discount from free agents wanting to chase a ring with the best quarterback in the NFL. We’ve seen it before as free agents took discounts to play with Manning and Brady. If the trend continues it will become apparent that agents know his over-aggressive tendency to over-pay to get the player he wants and will use other teams to leverage him into paying what no one else would consider.
In the short term he can get away with that but the moment Patrick Mahomes’ new contract starts hitting the cap hard he’s going to find himself in a very difficult cap situation. As much as people discuss the “outs” in his contracts, they all come with significant dead money associated with them. The 3 year out for Hitchens? $5.6M in dead cap. The 2 year out for Watkins? $7M. The out for Clark and Mathieu? Approximately $5M each. Overpaid free agents, significant dead cap, and a pending record-breaking quarterback contract are the three main ingredients to salary cap problems. And that’s before either Hill or Jones are figured into the equation.
Has Brett Veach found value in Free Agency or has he overpaid to get his man? Stay tuned for Part 3: Trades