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Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride mailbag: Landon Collins, the salary cap, and Brett Veach’s plan

With “speculation season” in full swing, there is plenty to cover in this week’s mailbag

Chicago Bears v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Welcome to Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride Mailbag! I’ll attempt to answer your questions about the Kansas City Chiefs and anything else that interests you. If you have a question, you can hit my profile page to E-mail me, or ask me on Twitter.

While you’re at it, please follow me on Twitter, too.

Do you think the Chiefs would regain the Eric Berry of old on the field if they sign Landon Collins and let Berry go on June 1st to gain cap to pay Chris Jones or Tyreek Hill? Oddly enough I feel Collins has basically played like Berry in his prime the past four years and is only 25. Plus he knows Steve Spagnuolo’s system.

— Sarge

You have a number of things right, Sarge.

Collins is only 25, has played well the last few years and could be considered a decent replacement for Berry — especially considering how the last couple of years have gone with him. He certainly has a history with Spagnuolo, and like Pete Sweeney said on Tuesday, there’s history in which Brett Veach has been interested in Collins.

But let’s correct some common misconceptions about the salary cap and the post-June 1 designation: it doesn’t make dead money go away. Despite its name, dead money never dies.

Cutting a player with a post-June 1 designation does indeed create cap space in the current cap year, but the dead money doesn’t just disappear. Instead, a sizable portion of it gets moved into the next year.

Furthermore, even if the player is released before June 1 and designated as a post-June 1 cut — something that teams can do on just two players per year — the additional cap savings aren’t available to the team until June 2. So it’s of little use during the early spring, when teams are trying to sign high-priced free agents like Collins.

But as you noted, Sarge, it could be used to help finance new contracts of players like Hill and Jones, who will still be under contract on their rookie deals on June 2. The team could make handshake agreements in principle now and agree to execute the contracts on June 2 or later, when the extra cap space is available.

But here’s the problem: According to OverTheCap, cutting Berry with a post-June 1 designation will save $8 million against the cap on June 2 — a total savings of $9.5 million in 2019 — but that $8 million will then become dead money against the 2020 salary cap.

To put it another way: Cutting Berry with a post-June 1 designation creates $12M more room in additional cap space over the next two years ($8M in 2019 and $4M in 2020). The cap space savings in 2021 and 2022 would be $12M and $14M, respectively, with a total of approximately $15M in dead money (not ideal for the owner) over the next four seasons (OverTheCap).

Keep in mind, this is a rather convoluted topic. As for the rest of your question, Sarge... let’s move on to another one about Collins.

Are the Chiefs in talks for Landon Collins? Please say yes.

— Matt

I wish I could, Matt. But I can’t.

All that’s happened with New York Giants safety Landon Collins so far is that the Giants decided not to place the franchise tag on him. So Collins will become a free agent when his contract expires.

Unfortunately, Collins won’t actually become a free agent until his contract expires at the end of the league year on March 13, and no one can legally negotiate with him while he is still under contract with the Giants. So until the so-called legal tampering period begins on March 11, no team will be in talks with Collins — that is, unless they want to run the risk of being disciplined by the NFL.

Now... if the Giants release Collins outright before March 11, all bets will be off. Collins’ agent will be answering a lot of phone calls! But if it hasn’t happened by now, it’s not likely to happen.

None of this means that there couldn’t (and won’t) be some surreptitious inquires (maybe even actual even negotiations) going on behind the scenes. There probably will be some of that going on, but everyone involved will have an incentive to keep it pretty quiet.

Could the Chiefs be in the market for Collins on March 11? Sure they could. Once the legal tampering period begins (seriously... my favorite ridiculous NFL expression) anything is possible.

But as Pete noted on Tuesday, this is likely to happen only if the Chiefs can somehow get Justin Houston’s money off the books. In my opinion, that’s only going to happen if the Chiefs do not trade Dee Ford; I think that either Houston or Ford — but not both — will remain on the roster in 2019. If they make a deal to trade Ford, then Houston will remain. If they can’t make a deal for Ford, Houston is much more likely to be cut (most likely) or restructured.

Then there would be money available to sign Collins — as long as whatever deals they make with Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones don’t carry big cap hits for 2019.

So whether Collins could be in play for the Chiefs could depend on other things we don’t yet know. Mid-March is likely to be a very interesting time.

Thanks for the questions, Matt and Sarge.

Losing Ford and Houston would be a huge loss, no? Or do they have a plan in place to spend in free agency?

— Todd

Thanks for asking, Todd. On Friday night, I happened to be hanging around in our AP Friday night Tailgate, and ChiefsfanNC asked me a similar question. Here’s part of what I said:

Folks tend to think that team GMs go into the offseason with this specific master plan about what they’re going to do. And I’m sure they do. But it’s just like a plan of battle: it seldom lasts beyond first contact with the enemy.

The free-agent you want to keep wants more money than you can afford, so you have to let them walk. Or you figure out a way to pay them, and then three years later, you’ve got a mess on your hands.

You get outbid by another team for the free agent you wanted, or the player that you considered to be the building block of next year’s line is taken two picks before yours in the draft. Or by some miracle, you get all the players that you want, and two of them end up on IR before the season begins.

So it’s really about being skilled at improvisation; doing the best you can in the circumstances that are forced upon you.

So does Veach have a plan? You bet he does. Even the most uninformed fan has a plan, yes? But whether the circumstances will allow him to execute that plan fully is another question.

Back at the beginning of the 2018 season, the Chiefs secondary was a mess. Right at the time of the final cutdown, the team suddenly had to resign Ron Parker, sign Orlando Scandrick, and make deals to bring Charvarius Ward and Jordan Lucas to the team. Early in the season, Veach received criticism for “failing to deal with the secondary” in the offseason.

Some of that was justified. David Amerson didn’t work out in the preseason, which is what prompted the signings of Scandrick and Ward. But Veach had drafted cornerback Tremon Smith and safety Armani Watts, and brought in Step Durham, Arrion Springs and D’Montre Wade as undrafted free agents. Veach also had Will Redmond and Keith Reaser in his back pocket. Reaser, in particular, had showed significant promise for the Chiefs in the two 2017 games in which he played.

So you can’t say Veach simply ignored the secondary in the offseason.

Reaser — along with Daniel Sorensen and Berry — were injured before the season began. When De’Anthony Thomas went down in October, Tremon Smith shifted much of his focus to the returner position, potentially stifling some of his development at cornerback. Watts also went down in October.

Veach couldn’t have predicted any of that. So he did what GMs do: he did the best he could in a bad situation.

So yes... Veach has a plan. Let’s hope he doesn’t have to go to Plan B — or Plan C — too much.

Is it OK for people to exchange presents every January 30th to celebrate the anniversary of the Patrick Mahomes Era?

— Brittany

You bet it is, Brittany. Thanks for asking.

Most of us missed the opportunity to give each other gifts on the first anniversary of the Patrick Mahomes Era. We should all do better in the years to come. Here are some acceptable gift types for some upcoming anniversaries:

  • 2nd Anniversary: Cotton — a Chiefs AFC Champions t-shirt
  • 3rd Anniversary: Paper — Chiefs Super Bowl tickets
  • 4th Anniversary: Flowers — red and gold roses for the table at your Chiefs Super Bowl party
  • 5th Anniversary: Wood — framed photos of Mahomes in each of his four consecutive Super Bowl appearances

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