The NFL new league year officially begins this week, on Wednesday, March 17th. And this off-season could be the busiest one for a free agent in recent memory. Due to the COVID affected salary cap, many teams had to make crucial cuts in order to save cap space. The Kansas City Chiefs were one of those teams.
They entered this past week around $21 million over the cap. But after cutting Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, and converting some of Patrick Mahomes‘ salary around, they now have just over $12 million available in cap space. The team could easily find more room by converting more salaries. Travis Kelce‘s, Chris Jones‘s or maybe even Frank Clark‘s contracts are all possibilities. A possible Tyrann Mathieu extension could help allocate more funds as well.
Though enough about that. We are here to focus on the possible free agents that Kansas City could target. And quite frankly, there are a plethora of options for them to choose from. We will be focusing on the four biggest positions of need. Along with big ticket options, we will look into the more cheaper options on the market.
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Spencer Brown
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Janarius Robinson
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Ben Cleveland
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Nico Collins
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Aaron Robinson
Big Price Options
The top high priced offensive tackle on the free agent market is Trent Williams. Reports indicate he wants to return to San Francisco. Will they have the money to get it done? The Chiefs did not appear to not that long ago, obviously. And while Williams’ effort has never been questioned, the contract may be too much of a distraction for Kansas City.
The other somewhat older veteran offensive tackle in this category that makes sense is Alejandro Villanueva. He is coming off of a contract, where he made $6 million per season in Pittsburgh. The reliably dominant blocker has been a constant pain in pass rushers’ sides year after year. A pay raise is certainly deserving. Spotrac currently places his market value at $16.5 million per season. Whether his contract reaches that market value, or if it is just below it, Villanueva is the exact high priced veteran that the Chiefs could use. He does not necessarily have to be a long term piece. But if he really wants to sign for top dollar, Kansas City could certainly meet halfway for a two or three year agreement.
Mid To Low Tier Options
There are plenty of other offensive tackle options that may not be bad signings. Yet at the same time, Kansas City would still have more room left over to make other signings. This category is chalk full of veterans, just like the aforementioned Williams or Villanueva.
The first name that comes to mind, is Riley Reiff. Recently cut as a cap casualty in Minnesota, the 33 year old Iowa product has been a durable tackle. He has started in 112 of 120 career games played. Reiff feels like he could assume the same type of role as Villanueva. Continue to dominate for two or three years as the team develops younger talent at tackle, then allow the Chiefs to make a smooth transition.
Another veteran free agent option that could make sense is Kelvin Beachum. He made a little over $1 million last season in Arizona. So, he likely will not cost more than say $4 million to $6 million per season. He may not be as steady as these other names. However, Beachum has proven that he can play in any offensive style and manage fairly well.
Interior Offensive Linemen
Big Price Options
Compared to the offensive tackles, the interior offensive line free agent options are likely to be fairly cheap overall. Nonetheless, there are a few high priced options. Two of them come from the center position and one comes from the guard spot.
The lone high priced guard is Joe Thuney. Franchise tagged by New England last season, he is projected for a contract worth $15.3 million per season, according to Spotrac. Thuney may not just be after a big payday. He could also be in search of a pretty lengthy deal, which puts his true value into question.
At center, the high priced tickets include Ted Karras and Corey Linsley. Karras’ projected market value on Spotrac feels a touch too rich ($10.2 million per season). Meanwhile, Linsley’s projected market value on the site feels a bit too small ($9.7 million per season).
Mid To Low Tier Options
There are an extreme amount of sensible free agent options in this category. Many different styles and price tags could vary. We’re simply going to name all the guards or centers that could make sense.
The more notable ones here may be a player who did not play in 2020. Veteran Kyle Long last played with Chicago in 2019, before retiring. Reports surfaced last week that he is now healthy, feeling great and is making a comeback. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Long is scheduled to visit Kansas City this week. The Chiefs should not hesitate to nab him, if they get the chance.
I do not personally anticipate the Chiefs going after any big priced free agent wide receivers. Despite the ability of players like Kenny Golladay, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Will Fuller, let other teams take the gamble on those receivers.
Kansas City’s biggest need among receivers is at X-receiver. With Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson most likely departing in free agency, they need to find that big bodied, physical receiver. Someone who can be a reliable possession pass catcher on the outside. Somewhat cheaper names that could make sense for the Chiefs here include Marvin Jones, Corey Davis, Rashard Higgins, Keelan Cole or Josh Reynolds.
Some of the following free agent options could be possession type of guys. Not all of them, however. We know Kansas City has one of the faster weapons units in the NFL. Adding any of these players would strengthen the Chiefs’ biggest strength.
Here are some quick thoughts on each. Samuel may be the most expensive of the speed options ($12.4 million market value). He is young (25 years old during Week 1 of 2021), coming off his best season and still has more room left to reach his ultimate ceiling. Hilton may not be quite as dangerous as he once was. But, he did have 1,000 yards receiving in five of six seasons from 2013-18. The only year he did not, he was just 34 yards shy. His speed can be both deceptive and crucial to the offense. Agholor is also coming off his best season, like Samuel. The only problem is, he is older than Curtis. With that outlier, the chance taken on him could be more risky. Finally, Jackson is still a deep threat. He of course has experience playing under Andy Reid.
Big Price Options
The free agent cornerback market feels extremely difficult to predict. On one hand, it feels like veterans may be willing to take less in order to win. Elsewhere, other veterans may be simply in search of that one last healthy payday. There are a few higher priced options that make plenty of sense. With Bashaud Breeland likely to head somewhere else in free agency, and Charvarius Ward struggling more last season, Kansas City should not abandon the cornerback spot this off-season.
Patrick Peterson is the most notable one of these higher priced guys. Spotrac holds his market value at $10.4 million. I could see it ending up a little higher than that. More importantly, it feels like Peterson and the Chiefs have been on a collision course for far too long. Past rumors of the veteran being traded to the team never resonated. The current players in Kansas City have vouched for him in the past. Furthermore, general manager Brett Veach would likely not hesitate to reunite former LSU teammates together in the Chiefs’ secondary. Could you imagine Mathieu and Peterson back together in the red and gold?
Other possible high priced veterans could include Richard Sherman, Casey Hayward or Malcolm Butler. The only issue here is, Kansas City has not previously paid the premium price for cornerbacks under Veach’s watch.
Mid To Low Tier Options
Again, the cornerback market is trying to predict. There are lower priced guys that appear to make plenty of sense for the Chiefs, though. Most of the players in this category are likely the younger options as well.
The other position I could see the Chiefs addressing is on the defensive line. Pass rusher is definitely an option. Although, I feel the team may wait until the draft for that and focus on the positions above. If they do add to the defensive line or pass rush in free agency, it will likely only be a signing that cost a minimal amount of money.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles throughout this free agent week. 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.