Brett Veach worked with Hitchens and Fisher over the weekend to convert some of their salary into bonuses ($4.27M and $6.36M, respectively) which cleared $10.63M in cap space. As of now, according to Spotrac, the Chiefs have $23.7M in cap space for 2019. Some speculated that with WR Byron Pringle being released, we were on the verge of bringing in someone. However, that turned out to just be a procedural move to add DAT back to the roster (and Pringle was added to the practice squad). And yet, we still have all of this cap space – so what are we going to use it for?
There are a couple of possibilities, some more probable than the others. The Chiefs are going to trade for someone, possibly a CB. Or, they’re close to finalizing a deal with Chris Jones (or, they’re prepping to give Mahomes a $200M contract next year by rolling the saved cap over). Let’s a take a look at what would happen if they decided to trade for a CB and how that could impact the cap. Then we’ll come crashing back to reality and see what a contract with Jones could do to the cap.
A 1st round pick (11th overall) by Miami in 2018, Fitzpatrick entered the league out of Alabama. He has been grading out as one of the best in the rookie class over the course of last year. He even graded out higher than the likes of Chris Harris Jr. and Robey-Coleman when targeted in the slot. However, with all the chaos in Miami, Fitzpatrick has been pretty vocal about how the defense has been playing him in multiple positions (including Strong Safety and multiple Linebacker positions) during games. The greatest part about Fitzpatrick is he is in his SECOND year of a rookie contract. It’s even reported that Miami has already paid 64% of his 4 year contract. On the flip side, Miami is apparently wanting a 1st round pick to trade him. Miami has allowed Fitzpatrick to actively seek a trade but due to the high asking price, most think that it won’t happen. Some think that Miami can get talked down to a 2nd rounder and currently the Chiefs only have one of those after the Frank Clark trade. It’s possible Veach gives them a call but I won’t hold my breath.
It seems like there have been pretty consistent rumors of a Patrick Peterson to KC trade for the last couple of years. Unfortunately, Peterson picked up a 6 game suspension for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Even so, Pat Pete is one of the best at his position and could be a massive upgrade to the Chiefs. Coming in week 7 would be a big advantage as he’d be able to help them down the stretch. Although, if a trade were to occur, we may not see him until week 8 since the Chiefs play at Denver on TNF giving them a short week to prepare.
With Peterson’s contract, the Chiefs would be on the hook for a cap hit of $7.11M this year. His base salary was $11M but then he forfeited $3.8M of that due to the suspension. That is a pretty nice number that they could work into their current cap space and still have room for a possible Jones extension (more on that below) and leftover cash for any emergency signings. Keep in mind that his cap hit doesn’t start affecting the team until his suspension is over after week 6.
As mentioned with Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins are in “We’re not tanking, we’re just tanking” mode, per head coach Brian Flores. Outside of Fitpatrick, several other players have approached their agents about being traded. Although, it was reported that Miami values Howard and he has requested to stay in Miami after signing a 5 year $75M extension this past May. However, if a team that is on the cusp of going to the Superbowl were to call – perhaps his thoughts would change. Adding Howard to the roster would cost the Chiefs a $8.3M cap hit plus quite a hefty amount of draft picks I’m sure.
Bouye has established himself as a reliable corner and has been a big contributor to a Jags defense that helped carry Bortles to an AFCCG less than 2 years ago. Having signed an extension in 2017, he only has a couple years left on his contract with the Jags and would come at a cost of $13.4M to the Chiefs this year. That would give the Chiefs just over $11.6M for the rest of the year. With a cap hit of roughly the same size next year, they could handle it (with a projected $40M in cap space next year) but they’ve also got to consider the Jones extension (or franchise tag) and the looming extension of Patrick Mahomes.
The other enemy this past weekend was Ramsey who does a lot of squawking for someone who was torched 2 years in a row by the Chiefs. That being said, Ramsey is still one of the best CBs in the league. Perhaps he’d love to be in a position where he doesn’t have to cover the Chiefs and can help them make a deep playoff run. Adding him would cost the Chiefs just $3.6M. That is an awfully low number compared to the cap space that they just added so I doubt this is the move they’re going for.
Perhaps a little underrated, Slay has been one of the most consistent CBs in the league for the last 5 years. According to PFF, he’s one of three CBs to play 500 single coverage snaps and still average a 70.0 or better grade – the other two being Chris Harris Jr. and Casey Hayward Jr. Slay only has this year and next left on his contract with the Lions so this could potentially be a move the Chiefs are looking into. He wouldn’t be cheap, costing $12.8M against the cap this year and just as much next year.
There were several rumors during the offseason that the Chiefs might be pursuing Rhodes from the Vikings. Surprisingly, the Chiefs ended up trading CB Mark Fields to the Vikings instead. However, Rhodes is nearing 30 and had some injury issues last year but seemed to return to his old ways against the Falcons this week. Rhodes comes with some pretty large cap hits and getting him this year it would cost the Chiefs $10.8M – oddly, nearly identical to the cap space they just created.
After shipping him off for only a 2018 4th round pick (Armani Watts) and a 2019 2nd round pick (Mecole Hardman) is it possible that the Chiefs would try to bring Peters back? Absolutely not – but crazier things have happened. If they somehow felt like the relationship had been repaired and Peters was willing to work with DC Steve Spagnuolo, it would come at a cost of $9.1M this year. Not a terrible price and under the amount that they just cleared. Although I’d see it as near impossible to get Clark Hunt on board with it.
Final Thoughts On CBs
The Defense looked better at times this year than they did last year, which doesn’t really say much. Perhaps some legitimate playing time together will help clean up a few issues but CB still looks to be a glaring weak spot on the Defense (although Tre LyDay will try to persuade you otherwise). The Chiefs could make a trade for any of the guys mentioned above, but it’s going to cost them quite a bit. Although, Brett Veach has shown that he’s not above trading draft picks away to get the guy they want. And you can’t be judged on your first round pick selections if you keep trading them away. With Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are in a ‘win-now’ mode so making a splash by trading for a CB doesn’t seem too far fetched. Then again, it’s going to cost them a bit.
A Chris Jones Extension?
The other major possibility, and most likely explanation, is that the Chiefs and Jones are close to having a contract that both sides agree on. We all remember that Jones sat out the early portion of the offseason program but reported to Training Camp on time. So if they are close to a deal, what would that look like?
Using Spotrac, you have the ability to see what a player’s market value is. I’m not sure how accurate that is but it suggests that Chris Jones could command an average of $18M per year. That would put him up there close to Aaron Donald’s contract ($22M per year) and above Grady Jarrett ($17M per year). Their suggested contract would be 5 years $90.3M. This seems low as it was reported that Jones was wanting Fletcher Cox money (6 years $102M – but signed in 2016). I think the more realistic deal would be close to 5 years $110M which would get Jones to the $22M per year mark.
There are plenty of options for Veach to choose from so all that’s left for us to do is wait and see what happens. What do you think the Chiefs should do with the money?