6. Kansas City Chiefs
Previous rank: No. 4
The Chiefs own a championship-caliber offense thanks mostly to their MVP quarterback. The question is, how is Kansas City going to get to the other guys’ quarterback? Alex Okafor aside, withJustin Houston departed and Dee Ford traded, pass rush must be coach Andy Reid’s No. 1 concern. Not to mention the potential patchwork awaiting new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spags made his name by leading a Giants defense that knocked off the top-seededCowboys and the Brett Favre Packers (at Lambeau) in the 2007 playoffs, and then finally the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Great stuff. Well, that ain’t Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck peeling out after the quarterback out there at Arrowhead. Adding Honey Badgerhelps the back end. Losing center Mitch Morse to the Bills, though ... is not helpful.
The absence of charges does not mean that someone or multiple persons won’t be charged. In fact, under Kansas law, there is a five-year statute of limitations for battery and other crimes. Still, it would be speculative to assume that Hill will be charged, just as it would be speculative to assume that he’ll be cleared. The truthful answer is we don’t know what happened and we don’t know what will happen going forward.
Law enforcement need not rush to charge Hill or anyone else, particularly if they have encountered any conflicting evidence or other uncertainties about the case. Kansas DCF will act with haste, though, if children under Hill and Espinal’s care are in danger.
OUT ROUTES (MIN 10 TARGETS) – LEAGUE AVERAGE WIDE RECEIVER RATING: 92.5
Kelce hauled in 12-of-15 targets on out routes in 2018 for 182 yards, seven first downs, and a touchdown. His average of 4.92 yards per route run on the route was fourth-highest mark among 59 offensive players who ran at least 10 out routes.
So what’s left for the Chiefs in free agency?
They’ve addressed some major needs, specifically in the secondary. They’ve also lost a handful of free agents, particularly on the offensive side. Here’s a rundown of the Chiefs’ revolving door in the last week, and what it means for their future.
WR Chris Conley signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars for undisclosed terms
The question is whether a bump up the depth chart in Florida is enough to offset the dropoff from playing with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes to a less consistent passer in Foles. Conley was overshadowed over four years in Kansas City by players like Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce. He’ll have the chance to beat out Westbrook, Marqise Lee, and D.J. Chark for a starring role with the Jags — and he’s also going from a quarterback who threw the ball more than 36 times per game last season to one who averaged 40 passes per start in Philly.
If the Jags want Foles to keep up that pace, they’ve got to surround him with playmakers. They may have found a hidden gem in Conley.
“If you ask me, it’s just a matter of people getting used to it,” said Kansas City Chiefs special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. “Guys are innovative and they have to come up with some new ideas on how to attack it. It’s like anything: You figure it out. Somebody is going to figure out how to do it and, all of a sudden, the numbers will change. ... This is what everyone wanted when we changed the kickoff rule. The kickoff is safer, and you still have the onside kick in the game.”
I also believe that the culture of the defense had devolved, not just with players but with the staff. If nothing else, Spagnuolo — and an entirely new staff, save for Andy’s son Britt — will change that part of it. I think Tyrann* Mathieu and Alex Okafor are each good and smart signings. I think that Dee Ford could’ve helped the Chiefs in 2019, but I understand the concerns about him learning a new scheme particularly with a potential holdout.
But I’m still not sure how they’ll pressure the quarterback outside of Spagnuolo creating it with scheme, or Chris Jones beating the double teams he’ll see more often without Ford and Justin Houston. I believe the Chiefs will be better defensively, and only some of that is because it would be hard for them to be worse.
Although his free agency just began, Berry is believed to be looking for a team that offers him the best hybrid opportunity of winning while getting paid near the top end of the safety table. That’s a key reality, considering the safety market has been significantly raised this offseason by a trio of deals for Landon Collins (six years, $84 million), Earl Thomas (four years, $55 million), Tyrann Mathieu (three years, $42 million) and Lamarcus Joyner (four years, $42 million). The major hindrance for Berry is the signing of that foursome – along with a multitude of other safeties – has significantly narrowed the free agent demand at the position.
The old tradition around here goes something like, “Once the Cowboys get ‘em in the building, they don’t let ‘em go without a contract.’’ With Eric Berry, we’re about to learn if 1) tradition stands, 2) the player merits a contract and 3) the player cares about “the way the Cowboys usually do things.’’
Around the league
The Oakland Raiders have signed Vontaze Burfict to a one-year contract, a day after the veteran linebacker was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. The deal is worth up to $5 million, according to NFL Network. With the Raiders, the 28-year-old Burfict will reunite with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who held the same role with the Bengals from 2014 to 2017.
The longtime Packers pass rusher is headed to play for the Los Angeles Rams, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the situation on Tuesday. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported the deal is for two years with a max of $16.75 million. The Rams later announced the signing.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Cobb’s deal is worth $5 million and will help the Cowboys replace slot receiver Cole Beasley, who signed a four-year, $29 million deal with the Buffalo Bills during the first week of free agency.
Cobb is leaving Green Bay after eight seasons with the Packers, where he recorded 470 career catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday that Quinn was spotted on his way to visit the Dallas Cowboys, who are in talks with the Dolphins about a potential trade, per sources informed of the situation.
These moves, in the eyes of ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Mina Kimes and Mike Sando, place the Raiders as the leader to be the most improved team not named the Browns.
“If Odell Beckham Jr. wasn’t the best player to change teams, Antonio Brown would have been,” Graziano writes. “Tyrell Williams is a nice complement to him at receiver. Safety Lamarcus Joyner fits a need on defense, which is the side of the ball I expect them to focus on early in the draft. And Trent Brown should be a helpful left tackle. The Raiders might be gearing up for Las Vegas, but the final year in Oakland has a chance to be a lot better than the past two were.”
Sando even voted for the Raiders to be more improved than the Browns in 2019, in large part because the Browns went 7-8-1 in 2018 and have fewer things to clean up than the Silver and Black.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
UPDATE: March 19, 2019, 3:17 p.m. Arrowhead Time
The Chiefs officially announce the Bashaud Breeland signing.
Breeland, 27, first entered the league with the Washington Redskins as a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Breeland’s name should sound familiar, as he was spotted on the field at Chiefs training camp last year in St. Joseph.
The combination of a few things—Breeland having an offseason, likely no longer manning the slot and it being a full contract year—makes me think that there is a real chance Breeland could be a better starter than Nelson. If he isn’t, it sounds like the Chiefs won’t owe him much money at all, anyway.
The one-year deal also gives Breeland a chance to prove it, and his money comes off the books in time to give the Chiefs room as they prepare for next offseason’s historic quarterback contract for Patrick Mahomes.
Spagnuolo typically has run a 4-3 Under scheme as a defensive coordinator, relying heavily on four-man rushes, mixed with a variety of exotic blitzes (typically coming from the defensive secondary). Keith Butler, the defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers spoke about scheme this past year and how defenses can slow down these high-powered offenses.”
”You have to throw false blitzes at them, then go into a four-man rush,” Butler said. “You have to create some doubt in their mind because they have to hold the ball longer.”
Reading and seeing these quotes has made me a believer in Spagnuolo for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Spagnuolo gets it.
We are using the month of March at Arrowhead Pride to identify Patrick Mahomes’ best 2018 play by way of a 32-play tournament called Mahomes Madness. If you haven’t voted on the Sweet 16 on the left side of the bracket, please do so here.
Now we’re moving to the right side of the bracket—and you have until Friday, March 22, at Midnight Arrowhead Time to vote.
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