Sammy Watkins headlines a busy free agency for the Chiefs, and while they've addressed many needs, Kansas City could still use some help in spots.
Annual average salary: Eric Berry ($13 million, 2017)
Three-year total: Berry ($42.5 million, 2017)
Berry bet on himself before the 2016 season and subsequently produced the best season of his career, forcing the Chiefs into an enormous extension. The second-largest safety contract at the time Berry signed his deal called for Devin McCourty to receive $29.9 million over three seasons. Most big contracts go to free safeties, but Reshad Jones plays a mix of both safety spots and is in second with $33 million over three years, while pure strong safety Kam Chancellor is in third at $31 million.
Former Atlanta Falcons player Dunta Robinson and a host of friends from his playing days are gearing up for some intense competition at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this week. Fellow Falcons emeritus Alge Crumpler, Roddy White and Brian Finneran, UGA turned Kansas City Chiefs player Justin Houston and many others are expected at the (cornhole) matchup.
Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions led all wide receivers last season with a 76.7% catch rate. Other notables included Randall Cobb (71.7%), Tyreek Hill (70.7%), Michael Thomas (69.6%) and NFL receptions leader Jarvis Landry (69.6%).
It should be noted that Smith didn’t rank higher than 20th in any of these categories in 2016, an indication that it helped to have the best deep threat, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, in his arsenal. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Hill broke out last season with 1,183 yards, catching seven of 13 tight window targets for 25.7 yards per reception.
I’m not sure McCaffrey’s poor blocking numbers impacted his receiving usage. Like with Bell in Pittsburgh, Carolina may have turned those potential pass-blocking snaps into more routes for McCaffrey. For Kareem Hunt, I suspect it did play a role in his usage, as we frequently saw Charcandrick West step onto this field in obvious passing situations. This was despite Hunt ranking 21st in yards per route run (1.50), while West ranked 47th (0.94) of 55 qualifying.
When looking for solid values, there are always a few factors involved. First, is there a veteran who had a down year or a player coming off an injury who has the talent to bounce back in a big way? You can generally find great value in those players, even if it means selecting a player in the fourth or fifth round who normally would be a second-round selection.
Then look for players who should have increased opportunity due to roster changes or turnover. Patrick Mahomes, for instance, has a chance to emerge as a fantasy star with Alex Smith heading to Washington. Smith, traditionally viewed as a game-manager, thrived in Kansas City. Mahomes could as well.
It became even more clear when the NFL issued Burfict a surprisingly lengthy five-game suspension for a 2017 preseason hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, a penalty later reduced to three games upon appeal.
The Raiders will likely still try to bring some youth into the backfield through the draft, looking to replicate the success teams like the Chiefs and Bears had with rookies Kareem Hunt and Tarik Cohen this past season.
"Chase (Hayden) reminds me of Barry Sanders in the way … he’s real slippery," (Randy) Ramsey added. "TJ is kind of a scat back like (former Oregon star and current Kansas City Chief) De'Anthony Thomas."
The Cowboys lost linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Kyler Wilber in free agency. Hitchens signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, and Wilber signed with the Oakland Raiders.
Around the league
If Ndamukong Suh is going to join the Raiders, he’ll do it without a face-to-face meeting with coach Jon Gruden.
The free agent defensive tackle has put off his scheduled visit to Alameda on Wednesday, according to NFL Media.
The proposed rules defining a catch are:
1. Control of the ball.
2. Two feet down or another body part.
3. A football move such as:
» A third step;
» Reaching/extending for the line-to-gain;
» Or the ability to perform such an act.
Martellus Bennett: The reason the NBA is so driven to do everything that they’re doing is because of LeBron James. LeBron is the best player in the world, he’s the most profitable player in the world, and he speaks on every single thing. He’s the person that drives that car. The NFL is not like that. The best players in the NFL aren’t the ones who are talking about concussions. Take Aaron Rodgers’s situation. I love Aaron Rodgers, he’s a great player, but for a quarterback to come out and say that an organization [hasn’t done anything wrong with] a player that’s been injured before, that is just a lie.
Basically, this means that a team like the 49ers would rarely be scheduled to play in away games that kickoff at 1 p.m. ET. During the 2017 season, the 49ers played five away games that kicked off at 1 p.m. ET, which feels like a 10 a.m. game to them. In those five games, the 49ers went 2-3. Instead, the western teams would play more of their away games in the 4:05 p.m. ET or 4:25 p.m. ET slots.
When Darnold began throwing, he faced the same overcast skies that had lingered for most of the morning. But after several minutes, a driving rain began and left the Trojans star to labor in a waterlogged hat and long-sleeve shirt. But though the slippery ball proved difficult to haul in for an assortment of receivers (largely made up of players other than Darnold's familiar USC targets), he was consistently precise in his placement, including on several deep throws.
At Arrowhead Pride
Watson is no spring chicken at 37 years old but he still put up 61 catches for 522 yards last year after tearing his ACL the year before. Watson would become the oldest player on the roster if the Chiefs signed him. He came into the league in the 2004 draft, one year before Dustin Colquitt. He’s still productive so I wouldn’t have a problem with the Chiefs taking a look here.
“Sammy was a big part of our offense last year — I mean we went from 32nd to first [in scoring],” LA Rams general manager Les Snead said Tuesday, via Rams.com. “[We] did pursue him — it didn’t work out.”
"Sammy Watkins to me is kind of like Chris Paul being added to the Houston Rockets. You already had ‘the Beard’ (James Harden), he’s a great player, but when you add a Sammy Watkins to ‘Cheetah’ (Tyreek Hill) and the other receivers and ‘D-Rob’ (Demarcus Robinson) and Kelce, it elevates those guys because Sammy Watkins dictates one-and-a-half persons to cover."