It actually happened. Eric Berry has been officially released by the Kansas City Chiefs after 9 seasons. While it comes as somewhat of a surprise, most were beginning to sense the end was near in KC for the former 1st Round Pick. Berry had missed all of 2018 and a majority of 2019 with Achilles and bone spur problems. At end of the day Berry wasn’t performing at the level or consistency in which KC expected from the six-year, $78 Million contract they had signed him to in 2017. $40 million of which was guaranteed.
The same could be said for Justin Houston, who was released on Sunday after 8 seasons in Kansas City.
Houston had become injury prone and wasn’t performing the way he had when he put up his best year in 2014. Cutting Houston saved Kansas City $14 Million in cap space. Berry’s release saved the Chiefs $9.55 Million in cap space. Now I’m no mathematician but to me that looks like about $23.55 million in cap space was freed up by releasing both Houston and Berry at the height of Free Agency.
With the trading of Dee Ford to San Francisco the Chiefs saved another $15.4 Million in cap space. So with all those moves combined the Chiefs opened up $39.09 Million in cap space. With Tyrann Mathieu’s signing averaging $14 Million a year, Kansas City has an extra $25.09 Million remaining from its cuts and trade. Throw on another Million plus some and it’s looking like KC’s cap space for the rest of Free Agency is $26.21 Million. Include Damien Wilson’s 2 year deal that is reported to be $2.8 million a year and Carlos Hyde’s 1 year, $2.8 million deal and that leaves the Chiefs cap at $20.61 Million. That’s a good amount of change to have lying around.
Who Is Left To Sign?
Earlier today Ian Rapoport reported that Eagles Cornerback Ronald Darby is visiting Kansas City tonight. From what I found in the comments of his tweet has me underwhelmed.
However, at the same time I saw a lot of positive too.
So Darby would join Kendall Fuller who, especially after last season, could really use the help in the secondary. Darby is the highest remaining player on Pro Football Talk’s Top 100 Free Agents, where he was originally at #18. Darby was only a $1 Million hit in the Eagles’ cap last season. Realistically what could the Chiefs be offering? Let’s call it an $8 Million in cap hit for Darby. So that leaves the $12.61 Million in cap.
With $12.61 Million remaining in cap space before the NFL Draft the Chiefs realistically have room to sign one more Free Agent. So let’s look who is left.
- TE Jared Cook
- DE Ziggy Ansah
- WR Golden Tate
- DE Markus Golden
- K Stephen Gostkowski
- DT Ndamukong Suh
- LB K.J. Wright
With defense being a big focus for the Chiefs as they rebuild under Spags, take out the two offensive players and Gostkowski. Take out Suh as well as he is well out of the Chiefs cap space.
- DE Ziggy Ansah
- DE Markus Golden
- LB K.J. Wright
So that leaves Ziggy Ansah, Markus Golden, and K.J. Wright. With only $12.61 Million it would be likely that the Chiefs go for a cheaper option. The cheaper option of those 3 would be Markus Golden who was only $1.2 Million last season for the Cardinals. Assuming the Chiefs can get him for $4.5 Million that would leave KC with $8.1 Million to go into the draft and with some rather important holes filled in their defense.
Does Kansas City Trade Up?
Now there is a potential way for the Chiefs to move up to a decent spot in the 1st round, keep their pick at 29 and build up their defense with youth. The Chiefs have two 2nd Round picks in this year’s draft, pick 61 and pick 63 via the Rams. Following the trade of Dee Ford to San Francisco, KC now has two 2nd Round picks in 2020 as well.
As of now here are the picks Kansas City has for the 2019 & 2020 NFL Drafts:
1st Round-Pick 29
2nd Round-Pick 61
2nd Round-Pick 63(via LA)
3rd Round-Pick 92
5th Round-Pick 167
6th Round-Pick 201
6th Round-Pick 214
7th Round-Pick 216(via SF)
2nd Round(via SF)
With four picks in the 2nd Round over the next 2 years, it would not be crazy to think Veach and KC could ship some of them off to move up in this year’s defense heavy draft. It is the perfect class to help rebuild the former 3-4 defense into a young, talented and cheap 4-3 defense.
The Trade And The Draft
So if KC is going to move up and obtain another 1st round pick how could they go about doing it? How will it affect their draft?
First we must address what is a realistic location for the Chiefs to trade up to? Now most are assuming that the Redskins will either try to draft a QB or trade for Josh Rosen with the 15th pick. This makes the area for the trade the 14th pick from Atlanta or the 16th from Carolina.
This then leaves 2 options for which Veach and Kansas City can go about trading for either of those picks.
Option 1: ATL/CAR receives two 2019 2nd Round Picks (Pick 61 & 63), 2020 2nd Round Pick (via SF). KC receives Pick 14/16.
Option 2: ATL/CAR receives 2019 2nd Round Pick 63, 2020 2nd Round Pick (via SF), 2020 2nd Round Pick from KC. KC receives Pick 14/16.
So in theory the Chiefs really only need one 2nd Round pick over the next two drafts. Personally I am a fan of Option 2 in this theory. It allows KC to keep their pick at 61 which they can then use to draft a good talent they need on the offensive side of the ball. While at the same time loading up with some premier incoming defensive talent.
Now I won’t dive too deeply into who the Chiefs take at Pick 14/16 and Pick 29. I will save that for Ball On The 25’s Post-Free Agency Mock Draft in which Coleman Dennis, Grant Caravelli, and myself will take an in depth look at the 2019 NFL Draft. I will say that at 14/16 look for the type of talent seen in LB Devin Bush and DE Clelin Ferrell. At Pick 29 expect the Chiefs to go secondary with the likes of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson out of Florida.
In the 2nd Round, if KC retains the 61st pick, it would be wise to keep an eye on Oklahoma State Running Back Justice Hill. He would fill a big hole left by Kareem Hunt while splitting carries with Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde to become Kansas City’s quick receiving back. He would be deadly out in the flat for a quick dump off, especially after running a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine. Interestingly enough he has already met with the Chiefs’ running back coach.
Kansas City is entering a life after Justin Houston and Eric Berry. The two men spent their time as Chiefs battling hard with relentless determination. After Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali were let go after last season the writing was on the wall. An era was ending in KC. Now KC is entertaining the Era of Mahomes. The offense has become flashy and high powered. The defense is being rebuilt to help the offense succeed.
Over the next few days and weeks it will be time for Brett Veach and Andy Reid to look at what they have and decide what power play they need to make to get the Chiefs to the big dance for the first time in 50 years. I believe I have laid out an interesting plan to make it happen. Time will tell if Veach and Reid see things in a similar way.
Follow Will on Twitter- @Big12FanWill