7 Chief Concerns for the 2017 Offseason
My how times have changed. A couple of years ago I wrote a similar Piece called, “7 Chiefs Concerns for the 2015 Offseason” and the concerns were as follows:
2015 Concern One– because Eric Fisher was viewed as a possible mistake at that point, the concern was, “whether or not Chiefs fans will all have to sit back and watch as another GM learns “his on-the-job lessons” the hard way.”
2015 Concern Two– Dorsey had spent all of Clark Hunt’s cap money in his first year and had no cap space to sign free agents in year two.
2015 Concern Three– previous-player nepotism… meaning, how many players were Reid and Dorsey going to bring in that played for them before?
2015 Concern Four– “it appears appropriate to lay more responsibility for the Chiefs 2014 offensive inabilities at the feet of the GM, than to do so, the OC, simply because you can’t build castles out of cow pies.”
2015Concern Five– is John Dorsey is a player in the kinds of trade-talks and conversations that could land the Chiefs a star like the Buffalo Bills got in LeSean McCoy? And, is the game trending towards phasing out RBs by devaluing them?
2015 Concern Six– will each of the Chiefs roster cuts… to get under the cap… create a position of need?
2015 Concern Seven– John Dorsey’s position on Dwayne Bowe, because of recent comments he’d made about him.
Not even one of those 2015 offseason concerns is what concerns me about the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2017 offseason. Back then several of those concerns were based on whether or not John Dorsey knew how to do his job and now… I probably fall into the “Trust In Dorsey” camp. Consequently, the concerns I have, are likely John Dorsey’s concerns as well.
Re-signing Eric Berry AND Dontari Poe
Bert mentioned recently that a Bronco fan site wants Dontari Poe to sign in Denver? What a nightmare that would be for Dorsey and the Chiefs. Berry has had such a great year that I’ve been leaning towards thinking Dorsey would sign Berry this offseason and place the franchise tag on Poe if he can afford to do that. If he can sign Poe to reasonable money then 2017 won’t be such a big hit but a couple of years down the line something will have to give. I can see John Dorsey re-working a deal with Justin Houston to make room for all his buddies on the D so that’s a possibility. However, signing both will be his biggest challenge by far this offseason.
A league source is estimating that the 2017 NFL Salary cap will be between 163M and 165M. The Chiefs currently have 5.6M to carry over to 2017. Even if the league goes high and sets the cap at 165M, that would give John Dorsey approximately 12M to use towards signing Berry and Poe. With no other releases or changes to the roster that projects to signing one of those two. So, something else will have to be done with the players on the roster to allow him to bring both players back in. If you mosey on over to → “OTC,” Overthecap.com you can see the Chiefs are already projected to be nearly 2.9M in the red for 2017, which means they will have to cut or renegotiate with their existing players.
Even if star ILB Derrick Johnson is somehow able to return in 2017, the Chiefs have issues at middle linebacker. Currently, all of the players the Chiefs are playing Chinese Fire Drill with at ILB… are similar to Derrick Johnson. If they were “capable” of Derrick Johnson type output then there might be less of a problem here but since many teams are still set on running on first down, the Chiefs need a thumper who can come in on downs when the other team is expecting to run.
From AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com comes a piece called, “Offenses Run Too Often On First Down” in which author Brian Burke states,
“When there are two strategy options and one of them yields a much higher payoff, it tells us two things. In this case, passing is more lucrative than running on 1st down, and this tells us: 1) offenses should be passing more often, and 2) for now, defenses should continue to be more biased toward stopping the run.”
So, do the Chiefs need a Hulkster or a Brick Wall of an ILB in their line-up? I’d say yes to that. The Chiefs are 26th in the league at stopping the run and any team like… say… the Tennessee Titans, who can run on the Chiefs, can beat them.
There’s an obvious concern, and hole, at ILB and the Chiefs must address it this offseason.
IR – ETA (Injured Reserve players Estimated Time of Arrival or Return)
One of the real stories of the 2016 season for the Chiefs has been the “Next-Man-Up” story and how those players who John Dorsey has signed off the street or re-signed to the practice squad have stepped up and performed well in their system. However, I’m not convinced a team can do that year in and year out so the Chiefs will need to know who they can get back off of the Injured Reserve List and how soon they can get them back to 100%. Players who can play a huge, if not starting, role in 2017 who are currently on the IR List include:
LG Parker Ehinger
DT Allen Bailey
DT Jaye Howard
RB Jamaal Charles
ILB Derrick Johnson
ILB Justin March-Lillard
ILB Josh Mauga
It’s not lost on me that 5 out of 7 of those players on IR are on Defense and at least 4 of them are starters. It’s hard to know how to approach Free Agency… and in part, the draft… without knowing who you’ll be able to count on in 2017.
QB and QBOTF
2017 is the first year that is would be possible, financially, to think about cutting QB Alex Smith. Yes, I know there are those who would love that but I’m not one of them and I also don’t believe that’s about to happen. However, if he was cut it would only cost the Chiefs 7.2M in dead money but save them 9.7M in the process. No, I don’t think Reid is planning on bringing Tyler Bray along that quickly, but fans should be ready and not be shocked if something along those lines does take place. I’d be surprised is Nick Foles was in their plans because why would they move a guy like Smith and then replace him with a Foles when there would likely be no savings in the long run because they’d have to pony up a number commiserate with Smith’s contract to sign Foles.
As far as drafting a QBOTF goes, you can count on John Dorsey to evaluate and sign the best QB for his position in the draft when a pick comes up and that player is available. In other words, I don’t expect him to make a move up the draft board to get a guy (a QB) he’s been targeting. Especially when every two to three years, quality QBs like… Drew Brees, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Sam Bradford, Kirk Cousins or Tony Romo… become available.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go”
Decisions, decision. One thing is for sure: both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill are going nowhere in the foreseeable future. That may not be the case for DAT, Knile Davis, Demetrius Harris, Albert Wilson and a slew of others. In fact, I would not be at all surprised to see most of those guys gone plus many more gone so Dorsey can sign his two star defensive players mentioned in Concern One.
General Manager John Dorsey has become such a prospector of street talent he could move to Hollywood and start his own recording “Empire.” Terrance Mitchell is the latest in the long list of players which he’s brought in only to have Andy Reid and staff “coach them up” and place them in the best positions to succeed… and succeed they have!
Mitchell, Spencer Ware, Jaye Howard, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, Kendall Reyes, Cairo Santos, Charcandrick West, Albert Wilson, Frank Zombo, Terrance Smith, Jah Reid, David King, Demetrius Harris and Tyler Bray.
The important point is, that with Dorsey knowing he and his staff can evaluate well, he could just let a lot of these guys go and replace them with others that he values just at much. Not saying he will… but it’s a possibility.
Is the Offensive Line better this year? I’d say yes but it is not a top ten offensive line. The offense ranks… 21st in Passing Offense, 16th in Rushing Offense and 20th in Total Offense… so it appears there is plenty of room for improvement. With the Sunday Night Football announcers making a ton out of Alex Smith 2.5 seconds, time to get te ball out of his hands, the offensive line is still 19th in the most sacks allowed with 31.
The question I’m facing here is whether or not this current group of Fisher, Ehinger (assuming he returns to form), Morse, Duvernay-Tardif and Schwartz, can improve dramatically if they stay together? The answer seems to be… progress yes, but dramatic progress, no. Consequently, I am favoring the idea that John Dorsey not only drafts an OL stud in the first three rounds but keeps his eyes open for another Mitchell Schwartz type steal during the offseason. I’d love to see Dorsey draft a premiere LT and move Fish inside to play LG.
Currently, Mitchell Schwartz grades out as the 27th best Tackle in the league while Eric Fisher is 35th, according to ProFootballFocus.com (PFF). Now, I’ve mentioned before that I don’t take PFF to be gospel but it does give you a range to reference. Since great Left Tackles don’t grow on trees, the Chiefs will likely have to focus on upgrading their offensive Guard positions and then hope that Fisher continues to develop.
It happens every year to the Champions. I fully expect the Patriots Josh McDaniels to get another shot at head coaching a team. This the New England Patriots have won the AFC East AGAIN for the 87 time in a row… or so it seems… and if they advance to the Super Bowl again McDaniels should be a lock to get offers. If the Kansas City Chiefs end up in the Super Bowl, I expect the same kinds of offers for the staff members of the Chiefs, most notably Bob Sutton and Dave Toub. The stars could easily align for the Chiefs end up in the big dance and if that happens, it shouldn’t shock you that they lose a valued staff member in 2017. It happened last year with Doug Pederson so it should surprise no one this year.
I’m not sure there’s anything a general manager can do about losing staff members off of a championship team… but it a good problem to have.