The 2021 NFL league year begins on March 17th, 2021. As a result, the free agency period will officially open about a week from now. As has been discussed many times over, many teams will have to be even more conscientious than usual. Due to the COVID affected salary cap, mental gymnastics will be highly evident. This includes teams like the Kansas City Chiefs. However, they are still likely to have a shot at signing some key free agents. Two that stand out in particular from the defensive end class, are Ryan Kerrigan and Deatrich Wise Jr.
Both veteran players enter the market under the category of unrestricted free agents. Not only could they cost less than many other pass rushers on the market, but they also fit the Chiefs’ mold on defense. Today’s edition of This Or That will allow fans to choose between these two defenders. Would you rather sign Ryan Kerrigan or Deatrich Wise Jr.? Let’s dive into their play styles, fit within the Kansas City defense and potential contracts.
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Play Styles and Traits
Starting off with Kerrigan, the longtime member of the Washington Football Team, has terrific size (6’4”, 265 pounds). He has long been one of the more steady pass rushers across the NFL. In fact, Kerrigan has registered the fifth most sacks in the last decade. The only four defenders with more in that time are Von Miller, JJ Watt, Justin Houston and Chandler Jones. Elite company. To boot, Kerrigan has had eight or more sacks in a single season for seven of his ten career seasons. His playing time has been reduced to a rotational role the last couple of seasons. Though, the Purdue product is still a two way defender. He has proven to be a stingy run defender, along with his ability to chase the quarterback. To cap it all off, Kerrigan has the length, heavy hands and football IQ that Kansas City covets from their defensive ends.
On the other hand, Wise Jr. is an excellent mover in space. With a dense frame (6’5”, 275 pounds), he flashes sneaky good flexibility and lateral agility. He can scrape across the face of opposing blockers and make run stops in short areas. As a pass rusher, Wise Jr. touts a highly athletic toolbox. The former New England Patriot does well to stack opposing offensive linemen. With deceptive footwork and underrated speed, Wise Jr. can get after the passer at a high clip and rapid pace. The former fourth round pick from Arkansas displays a high potential of remaining in the backfield. Additionally, his disruptiveness can lead to possible turnovers. Wise Jr. is just as much of a two way defender as Kerrigan. The track record is just not quite as fruitful. Both players can make the necessary plays in short or dirty areas, that do not receive all of the recognition.
The fit remains to center around consistent production, regarding Kerrigan. It is extremely difficult to produce the amount of sack numbers that he has. And even at a smaller snap count last season, his 5.5 sacks were good for third best on Washington’s defense. You do not just receive that consistency simply in production. Kerrigan has been one of the more reliable players in the last decade, health-wise. He has only missed four games across his entire career. No matter what role he plays, the Chiefs would be receiving that consistent production that they are longing for to pair with Chris Jones and Frank Clark. And as mentioned, it does not just have to come on the pass rush. Kerrigan could certainly aide a run defense that has been below average for far too long.
Wise Jr. just creates havoc everywhere he goes. With a defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo, he would be a natural fit in multiple blitz packages. The speed factor will also help Wise Jr.’s case. Kansas City general manager Brett Veach has specifically stated that they want more of that on defense. This defender can certainly instill that into the defense. Moreover, Wise Jr. has a vicious finishing style. This goes for when he’s attacking quarterbacks, as well as ball carriers. If that resonates, teams will have to be smart with how they attempt to slow Wise Jr. down. Especially, when Jones and Clark are on the other side.
Another reason why signing either of these players could make sense for the Chiefs, is because neither are projected for large deals. Kerrigan is coming off a season, in which his base salary was $11.5 million. The reduced snap count and his age (33 at start of 2021 regular season) could make him an obvious low salary candidate. Furthermore, after only having three playoff appearances in his decade spent in the nation’s capital, Kerrigan may be strictly looking to join a contender. Hunting rings and quarterbacks may be the exact player-team fit Kansas City could attempt to seek with Kerrigan. His market value is somewhat unknown. But, we will estimate that he will still make $6 million to $8 million per season.
As for Wise Jr., his potential market value is also somewhat of a question mark. He is coming off of his rookie contract with New England. So, he is not coming off of a previous lucrative deal. He made a total of $2.97 million in his first four seasons. He will likely see an increase on a per year basis. The estimation we will put in place is $2.5 million to $4 million per season. However, it would not be surprising to see that number come in higher in the end. Due to his age (27 at start of 2021 regular season) and versatility on defense, our estimation may be selling Wise Jr. a bit short.
Go to the poll to cast your vote here: Sign Ryan Kerrigan or Deatrich Wise Jr.?
The contracts we will throw out here are as follows: 2 years/$14 million for Kerrigan and 3 years/$10.5 million for Wise Jr. Neither would really cripple the Chiefs salary cap. Also, the league could see the cap affected less than expected, and it could be right back up to normal in the coming years.
I would personally vouch for Kerrigan. Although, Wise Jr. is younger and may have more left in the tank. The former Washington defender has just been too reliable and consistently solid. The Kansas City defense needs to see improvements against both the run and pass up front. In a lot of ways, an addition of Kerrigan just seems like a perfect match.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs This Or That hypothetical articles throughout this 2021 offseason. We will post them on Tuesday and Thursday. 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.