To Ford, the cold, hard cash is tangible proof that he is, in fact, a good player, someone who lived up to his status as the No. 23 overall pick in 2014, even though the team that drafted him (Kansas City) didn’t value him enough to ante up.
“I feel appreciated,” said Ford, who had just gotten off a phone call with the 49ers brass and his agent and mentor, Adisa Bakari, minutes before. “Me knowing they believe in me ... talking to the GM, talking to the owner, talking to the head coach ... they couldn’t wait [for me to get there].”
One of the more unique aspects of his game, and likely one of the reasons that the Chiefs had him as the top safety available on their free agency board,is Mathieu’s defensive versatility. The Honey Badger played at least 300 snaps each in the box (419), as a slot corner (352), and at free safety (301), and as his overall grade would suggest, he played well enough in all those roles to finish the season in the top 25 percent of all safeties around the league. That kind of positional fluidity will allow the Chiefs to move him around based on situation or matchup – a valuable commodity in today’s NFL.
Look, the Chiefs deserve credit for being aggressive in remaking this defense. A year ago, they did lip service. They traded Marcus Peters, cut Derrick Johnson, kept the defensive coordinator and called it a cultural makeover. That was nonsense, and they should have known it...Now, they are making drastic moves to maximize what’s left of Patrick Mahomes’ rookie contract. We can argue the details, but give them credit for effort, at least.
Mathieu is a versatile playmaker who will strengthen a poor secondary. He has a well-earned reputation for causing havoc, a trait that was sorely missed without Peters. Mathieu gives the Chiefs options. Different ways to attack. But, at least until we see what happens with Ford’s cap space, this is one step forward and one step back.
The Chiefs got worse by trading an effective pass rusher for a second round pick in a draft more than a year away. The judgments made in real time should reflect that fact.
We are already seeing the fruits of this increased cap space, with Kansas City agreeing to terms with Tyrann Mathieu on a three-year deal earlier in the week. While it’s unclear, with Kendall Fuller in the fold in Kansas City, what role Mathieu will play, he’s been above a 0.33 win player in five of his six seasons and over half a win in three of them. Like with the Ford deal, the Chiefs have a second-round pick this year from the Peters trade last year, so they have ammunition to stock up on coverage players in the draft as well as in free agency, with players like Ronald Darby and Pierre Desir still available should they go that route.
The Chiefs are still nowhere near where they want to be defensively, but being a poor defense while also being tied up financially is far less acceptable than being a defense in need of talent while also possessing the freedom that this Ford trade gives them.
Every so often in 49ers history, a trade happens with the Kansas City Chiefs for a marquee player. The latest is a deal for pass rusher Dee Ford, and that can become official when the league year starts at 1 p.m. Wednesday. How does it stack up to others, at least in terms of magnitude? This could work out as the best. Let’s look:
1. Farewell, Joe Montana. The 49ers’ most cherished player sought the Chiefs as his destination after years of the NFL’s most legendary QB controversy with Steve Young. Montana was a 36-year-old, four-time Super Bowl winner when the 49ers packaged him, safety David Whitmore and a 1994 third-round pick to the Chiefs for the 18th overall pick in 1993, which they converted into defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield.
Does the Browns’ arsenal rival the Chiefs? Some national writers were making the case. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, however, wasn’t buying it.
ESPN’s Andrew Hawkins tweeted at Kelce a list of Cleveland’s skill-position players. Kelce, who is from Ohio, responded: “don’t start that Hawk! We’ve already got the best offense in the league over here!! @Chiefs #ChiefsKingdom”
It’s likely this trend — the biggest players agreeing to deals before free agency actually starts — will continue. That said, there are still plenty of good to great players still out there, waiting to find a team for the 2019 season. Below, we’re going to point you to the best still available — in alphabetical order — at each offensive and defensive position.
Signed: Anthony Chickillo, Frank Clark (franchise tag), Jadeveon Clowney (franchise tag), Dee Ford, Trey Flowers, Dante Fowler Jr., Brandon Graham, DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag), Steven Means, Brooks Reed, John Simon, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Terrell Suggs, Cameron Wake
Best Available: Ezekiel Ansah, Shaq Barrett, Markus Golden, Justin Houston, Clay Matthews, Shane Ray
Around the league
The 49ers’ defensive backfield will not consist of half of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom, after all.
The McCourty twins are back in Foxborough.
The twin brother of longtime Patriots safety Devin McCourty, Jason was traded to the Pats in the final year of his deal last offseason having never won a Super Bowl or even made the postseason. Well, mission accomplished.
Coleman, known as an explosive, big-play threat, averaged a career-best 4.8 yards per carry while starting 14 of 16 games for the Atlanta Falcons in 2018, as two-time Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman underwent season-ending groin surgery. Coleman finished the season with 800 yards and four touchdowns on 167 attempts, and he also caught 32 passes for 276 yards and five TDs.
‘He’s done everything in his power to be the best he can possibly be on and off the field,’’ Gruden said. ‘’His body of work is not only impressive, but fun to watch. He’s electrifying after the catch, he’s a great competitor, he wins the 50-50 ball, he’s outstanding in short areas. You have a great imagination as a football coach when you coach a man like this. He can play split end, he can play flanker, he can play in the slot. He can return punts and sell popcorn at halftime. We’re excited about this guy.’’
Brown is one of several additions the Raiders have made to start the new league year. They agreed to a four-year, $66 million deal with tackle Trent Brown to bolster the line and a four-year, $42 million contract with safety Lamarcus Joyner during the negotiating period.
”Sources said they would explore a trade for Arizona’s Josh Rosen, if the Cardinals decide to make him available, but that they aren’t sure yet whether that will happen or whether they would be sure to make an offer for Rosen if it did.”
The Miami Dolphins met with free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday evening, but no deal was announced at the meeting’s conclusion.
Bridgewater likely will have to decide between staying in New Orleans as a backup and potentially a long-term option to replace Drew Brees when Brees retires or leaving for Miami, where he would have an opportunity to start in 2019.
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Veach’s bidding war victory over the Houston Texans for star safety Tyrann Mathieu on Monday likely made Veach, Reid and the Chiefs comfortable enough to move on from a situation that by the end, truly became a distraction.
Darby, 25, is a 5-foot-11, 193-pound cornerback who first entered the NFL as a second-round pick by the Buffalo Bills back in the 2015 NFL Draft. Darby was traded to the Eagles after two seasons with the Bills and was on the team for the organization’s Super Bowl LII win over the New England Patriots.
As the Kansas City Chiefs were negotiating a deal to send linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2020 second-round pick, two 2018 Chiefs were working on deals with new teams.
The first came Tuesday night when cornerback Steve Nelson signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Nelson signed a three-year, $25.5 million contract.
According to Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest, the Kansas City Chiefs have tendered three of their exclusive rights free agents — placekicker Harrison Butker, wide receiver Marcus Kemp and defensive tackle Justin Hamilton.
What does this mean? Here’s the short answer: they aren’t going anywhere.
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