Pride comes before a fall: something John Dorsey knows all too well. His over-confidence in his ability to evaluate talent led the Kansas City Chiefs to make some moves, both in the draft and FA, that would bite them later in the cap dept. Without delving into everything, KeiVarae Russel, Kevin Hogan and giving huge contracts to mediocre players put Chiefs in a position where they couldn’t build a good roster. Brett Veach has taken the reigns now, perhaps the most obvious difference in his approach is humility, and it’s already paying off for K.C. in a big way.
John Dorsey’s Draft Gold
To Dorsey, draft picks were gold. A currency he rarely dealt in. When it pays off, you can get great players, like Tyreek Hill, on cheap contracts. When it doesn’t, you have a bench warmer who stays on the roster for a year, until the Chiefs admit he isn’t going to amount to anything and cut him loose. If you have supreme confidence in your scouting ability, you keep the draft pick every time.
Veach’s approach though has been markedly different.
Brett Veach’s Player Platinum
Veach has been willing to trade picks for players early and often, this is driven by his common sense approach. Even the best NFL scouts will miss on players, late in the draft, all the time. It’s really hard to know how a player will do in the NFL until you actually see, well, how they do in the NFL. If scouting tape from college is gold, tape from the NFL is platinum. College tape can often lie about the quality of a player, who is lining up against inferior competition. NFL tape tells harsh truths.
When Veach trades picks for players already in the NFL, he knows exactly what he’s getting. Why spend a pick on a Ramik Wilson, or Nico Johnson, when you can use that same pick to acquire Reggie Ragland? Sure, he’s got a year less on his contract, but giving up one year of control for absolute certainty is a bargain. You could spend a 1st round pick on a developmental OL (like the Browns did), or you can send a 5th round pick for that same player to acquire a solid depth guy, even if he might never be a starter. Decent depth on OL is expensive in FA. Donald Stephenson had a $4.25M cap hit last year. Erving’s cap hits never go above $2M, unless the Chiefs pick up his 5th year option. Something they’ll only do if they successfully transition him to starting OT. If that happens, he’ll cost far less than Eric Fisher, who he’d likely replace.
Dorsey’s Expensive Indecision
When it came to contracts, John Dorsey tended to do one of two things. He would either wait till the last minute and sign a huge deal, or let the player walk. Very rarely would Dorsey actually sign a player to an affordable contract extension. For some players, this was fine. Kelce and LDT have proven to be good moves. For others, it has led to spiraling cap co$t$ and wasteful contracts. Dorsey’s style is a result of his ego. If he’s all in on a player, that player is worth any cost to retain. If he’s not sure about a player, he’s not willing to sign any contract at all.
Brett Veach’s Prop Bets
Where Dorsey‘s confidence in players was either absolute or non-existent, Veach’s early moves show he’s willing to live with uncertainty. One of the first moves Veach made, after Dorsey got fired, was to bring in Josh Mauga and Steven Terelle. Veach wasn’t sure about what he had at ILB and S, so rather than rely on rookies or iffy veterans, he brought in an insurance policy. If ILB developed the way he hoped, Mauga could be cut, if it didn’t, he wouldn’t have to then sign him to a big contract, having no leverage. While Chiefs didn’t end up needing Mauga, Steven Terelle proved to be one of Chiefs better safeties, before he got hurt.
Veach’s next move was in the same vein. He signed OT/OG Bryan Witzmann to a one-year contract extension. Veach wasn’t sure if Witzmann would develop, but didn’t want to have to lose him or shell out big bucks if he was good. The one-year contract extension gave Witzmann some security and the Chiefs a bargain guard. Veach, it seems, is willing to risk small amounts of guaranteed money, to avoid wasteful contracts. If K.C. liked what they saw from Witzmann, they would still have him under contract this year at a reasonable rate. That gives them leverage in contract negotiations, and helps them avoid a free agent bidding war. Witzmann will hit the cap for just $730k this year. By comparison, Jah Reid, who Dorsey signed to a 3-year extension, wound up earning $5M over two years, before the Chief had to cut him loose.
If the Kansas City Chiefs are to mirror the Eagles winning ways, it starts with the GM. A slew of key players, in Pederson’s Super Bowl squad, came to Philly on one year contracts. As Free Agency approaches, we’ll get a chance to see if Veach can surpass Dorsey in acquiring good FAs at value prices. That starts with having cap space to use. K.C. may be limited in it’s ability to rebuild the roster, this year, but, in 2019, they’re projected to have over $80M in cap space. With a lot of old contracts coming off the books and key players hitting free agency, The Chiefs moves this year can set them up for an influx of quality talent next year. Hopefully, Veach’s measured approach will continue to bring in quality talent at affordable prices. Go Chiefs.
Here’s Your “Bonus Thought”
Very thought provoking quote of Clark Hunt in a piece by the great Terez Paylor over at the Kansas City Star:
“You don’t want to put yourself in a rebuilding mode, and certainly, as a two-time division winner, we’re not in a rebuilding mode. But, we do have holes in the roster, at starting positions and backup positions, that we’ve got to fill, and I’m not sure you can do that intelligently in one year.” -Clark Hunt
As excited as fans may get about moves this year — and the acquisition of Fuller was HUGE — I maintain that Chiefs best and biggest push will come in 2019. 2018 then, is about progress. As long as the Chiefs are headed in the right direction, this will be a successful season for Kansas City.
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