This is the week of the NFL Scouting Combine, taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana. For the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, there are plenty of decisions looming this offseason. General manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid each provided some updates on those upcoming situations on Tuesday.
With what both individuals had to say, there are definite signs that each man is pointing towards. Reid is a more difficult guy to read. However, there have been clear points made by Veach beforehand. He made a few more on Tuesday, as Kansas City is hoping to bring back some pending free agents. Now, we will provide more on what we know, based off of the ideas Kansas City has presented.
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Chris Coming Back?
Defensive lineman Chris Jones is easily the most important player that Kansas City hopes to retain this offseason. The 25 year old just led the Chiefs in sacks for the second consecutive season, and he is easily one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. Last week, Veach called Jones a “priority”. The GM is not just throwing this point out there. He knows Jones is one of the top defensive players and leaders of Kansas City.
Here is what Veach had to say about Jones in Indianapolis: “It’s certainly a priority for us. Sometimes, these things take some time to work through. The franchise tag is something that we have the ability to use. We’d certainly like to see if we could work something out with him long term. I think the tandem of Chris Jones and Frank Clark is something that any team would want, and we’re going to work hard to see if we can get that done.”
Additionally, Veach mentioned that Jones’ reps are set to meet with the Kansas City personnel at some point this week in Indianapolis. It also feels like the team feels like contract negotiations are in a much better place, then when they left off before the season.
Obviously with the salary cap situation, the Chiefs will have a lot of heavy lifting to do. But as Veach mentioned, “it would be a challenge but not impossible.” Reid said he had been in contact with Jones. But, they do not discuss contract situations. The head coach leaves that up to Veach and his staff.
Above all, Veach made it well known that the “intent and goal is to keep Chris Jones in Kansas City.”
What About Sammy?
As for wide receiver Sammy Watkins, he is not entering free agency. He will currently be going into the final year of his three year deal. However, there are a few obstacles that make that last year of his contract difficult to remain the way it is right now. First off, Watkins has a cap hit of $21 million. This includes a $14 million salary, and $7 million in dead cap money.
Some of that money needs to be freed up for other contracts. Also, Watkins has not had the production that fits that current salary. He has been impactful during the playoffs. Nonetheless, staying healthy and putting up consistent numbers has been a struggle.
Many people believe that Kansas City will flat out release Watkins, in order to open up cap space. Veach addressed Watkins in a different light in Indianapolis.
“He’s a guy that we do want back. There are certainly different scenarios that could play out with him. These are good problems to have. When you’ve won the Super Bowl, you obviously have a lot of good players and they make a lot of money. But Sammy’s a guy that has been critical to our playoff success.”
Like Jones, Veach and Kansas City will meet with Watkins’ agent this week. Getting players to take pay cuts is never easy. Yet, Watkins has said that he would be willing to do that. Plus, who would not want to continue playing with Patrick Mahomes? There will be many different roads in which to go down with the veteran receiver. But overall, Veach hopes the team can “bridge a gap” with him.
Mahomes Can Wait
People truly believed that Mahomes would sign a record breaking contract extension this offseason. Instead, both team owner and CEO Clark Hunt and Veach have mentioned that it could wait. The focus is placed elsewhere, with other decisions to be made. Mahomes still has another two years left on his rookie contract. Though, this would be the first offseason where the QB could receive an extension.
Here is what the general manager had to say about it: “We have a lot of time. That’s a good thing in regards to Pat. We’ll almost certainly continue dialogue with him like we’ve done with Chris Jones and other guys. As we kind of work through the new landscape of the NFL and the new CBA, we’ll certainly get together.”
A new CBA may actually benefit both the player and team. Kansas City would likely generate extra cap space. Meanwhile, it would give Mahomes a better chance to break the bank.
Kansas City received more good news with their star quarterback. He was rumored to need offseason surgery on the dislocated kneecap suffered back in October. Coach Reid basically affirmed, that would not be the case. He feels very comfortable and healthy.
More Injury Updates
Kansas City certainly went through their slew of injuries throughout this past season. The team talked about a couple of injured players, in regards to their recovery.
Safety Juan Thornhill, who tore his ACL in Week 17, is expected to be ready for the start of next season. When exactly he gets going in training camp is still a question. Thankfully, his ACL actually turned out to be in better shape than expected when it was time for surgery.
Thornhill registered 58 total tackles, five passes defensed, three interceptions and one touchdown for Kansas City as a rookie. He has made it known that he will be back with a vengeance next year. We hope to see his steady recovery continue.
Kansas City also lost defensive end Alex Okafor to a torn pec in December. Okafor is reportedly progressing on a faster timeline than Thornhill. The veteran defensive lineman will be entering his second season of a three year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020. He finished last season with 22 total tackles and five sacks in 10 games.
Be on the lookout for more Chiefs offseason coverage. Included will be draft prospect profiles, free agency and trade pieces and much more. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.