Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey will always be connected for as long as their respective tenures last.
Dorsey came to the Chiefs with Andy Reid in 2013, and over the next four seasons, rebuilt Kansas City into a winner. During that time period, Veach served under Dorsey, first as a pro and college personnel analyst from 2013-2014 and then as co-director of player personnel from 2015-2016.
Then something unexpected and drastic happened:
The Chiefs fired Dorsey and Veach took the vacant position.
After the switch, Veach said Dorsey spoke to him twice, calling Veach before the GM interview and after the GM interview, and to this day, Veach will always speak highly of Dorsey, someone he looks up to as a mentor.
But don’t get this confused. Though the two remain on good terms (they made a trade Wednesday, thus the inspiration for this story, which we’ll get to), let’s not get this twisted.
To the bone, Veach and Dorsey are football players, and that means, to the bone, Veach and Dorsey are competitors. It’s Dorsey’s goal to turn the Browns around as soon as possible, making the Chiefs look bad, and it’s Veach’s job to finish the job Dorsey couldn’t, making the Chiefs look good.
With so many obvious reasons for this friendly competition, let’s get to the top five matchups to watch:
Chiefs TE Randall Telfer vs. Browns LB Dadi Nicolas
The skinny: This has been the only one-for-one trade between Veach and Dorsey to date, occurring on Wednesday. It is a role player swap. The Chiefs were in need of a player to compete for depth at tight end and likely believe Telfer has upside when it comes to blocking, whereas Dorsey traded for a player he originally drafted when he was still in Kansas City. Dorsey selected Nicolas, who missed last season due to a ruptured patellar tendon, out of Virginia Tech with the sixth-round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Advantage: This one is hard to read, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to try to make a call one way or another on each of these matchups. I like this better for the Browns because I believe Nicolas’ ceiling is higher. However, I will admit Telfer probably has a better chance to make a 2018 roster given the fact that the Chiefs’ TE3 spot will be wide open.
Dorsey 1, Veach 0
Chiefs EDGE Breeland Speaks vs. Chiefs EDGE Tanoh Kpassagnon
The skinny: This is what it is, right? Dorsey selected Kpassagnon with the Chiefs 2017 second-round pick because of his body type, and it wound up being a bigger project than anyone realized. Asked directly about their NFL readiness of the two during his post-draft press conference, Veach favored Speaks:
“Just because of rule number one: the level of competition. The way [Speaks] plays, I think when we talk about a guy that can line up on the outside and then kick in on the inside, he’s done that. He did that in college if you watch his tape on a lot of that four-down stuff he aligned both on the outside and they kicked him in on the inside.
“With Tanoh, it was a small school player number one and he was pretty much a defensive end for Villanova. Just kind of dominated that level of play and wasn’t asked to do a bunch of different things, whereas Breeland, in regards to what we’re asking him to do, he’s already done it, number one. Number two, he’s already done it versus a higher level of competition. So we feel like the change and the adjustment should happen obviously more quickly for him.”
Advantage: it would be hard to call Kpassagnon a bust quite yet. I think we need to see how he looks at training camp and beyond. That said, Veach makes a lot of sense, and he essentially drafted Kpassgnon’s replacement.
Dorsey 1, Veach 1
Chiefs CB David Amerson vs. Browns CB Terrance Mitchell
The skinny: Mitchell was elevated by the Chiefs from their practice squad back in 2016, and he received more and more playing time down the stretch that year, leading to a 2017 campaign in which he was relied upon as a starter. The only problem is that opposing quarterbacks picked on Mitchell quite a bit, and he would actually lose his job midway through the season. The Chiefs let him walk as a free agent to Dorsey’s Browns on a three-year, $12 million contract, instead signing the much more experienced Amerson to a one-year deal worth only $500,000 guaranteed, plus incentives.
Advantage: Though Amerson has been up and down in his career, I’ll take the guy with 56 starts on a contract year (Amerson) with built-in incentives before the guy with 11 who has dead cap to his name (Mitchell) if it doesn’t work out in 2018.
Veach 2, Dorsey, 1
Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins vs. Browns WR Jarvis Landry
The skinny: Ah, the luxury matchup of the article. Just as you could make the case the Chiefs didn’t need to aggressively go after Watkins, 24, in the free agent market, the Browns didn’t need to go after Landry, 25, in the trade market (the Browns surrendered a 2018 fourth-rounder and a 2019 seventh-rounder to the Dolphins for Landry). The Chiefs signed Watkins to a three-year, $48 million deal ($30 million guaranteed), while the Browns signed Landry to a five-year, $75 million deal ($47 million guaranteed). Each general manager obviously liked his guy.
Advantage: I hate to do this here, but numbers don’t lie. The saving grace is that, and you hear it all the time, when teams sign players, they are paying for what they will do, not what they have done. Still, advantage Dorsey.
Veach 2, Dorsey 2
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes vs. Browns QB Baker Mayfield
The skinny: This is the part of Dorsey’s firing that makes me the saddest because I know how much he loved Mahomes by the way he talked about him. Comparing his firing to a breakup...the breakup can be bad enough, but when your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend keeps your favorite sweater, it makes it that much worse.
Like all healthy exes, Dorsey moved on, going out on quite a limb to select Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield with the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. To make this a fair matchup, if Mayfield is just as good as Mahomes, Dorsey wins, as he really had no choice but to move on.
Advantage: The problem is I don’t think Mayfield will be as good as Mahomes, and I don’t think it will be close. Mahomes has shown all the signs of being the guy, including a solid first NFL start, and we often joke about how he shows no red flags, and Mayfield has many more question marks. I think Sean Payton spoke volumes when he said that there was no Andrew Luck or Carson Wentz in this draft, yet the Browns went ahead in selecting Mayfield when the alternative could have been to trade out for a king’s ransom of future selections. Veach managed to be at the right place at the right time with the right quarterback, so right now, he holds the advantage.
Veach 3, Dorsey 2
While Veach may have my “lead” right now, as they say, that’s why they play the games. I expect some of these to change and some of these to stay the same. But just like quarterbacks drafted in the same class, these two GMs will forever be connected, and it will be entertaining as fans to watch how it all pans out.