Well before Keith Reaser suffered an Achilles injury on Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs had a need at the cornerback position. Their team-produced show The Franchise showed Brett Veach speaking with owner Clark Hunt about players at the position he coveted — such as Byron Murphy and Rock Ya-Sin.
The largest investment the team has made at the position so far is the $2 million they spent to acquire Bashaud Breeland, who had a slow start to camp with a lacerated thumb. D’Montre Wade is now seeing time with the first unit. Across from him, Charvarius Ward had some struggles over the weekend. Kendall Fuller appears to have been relegated to the slot.
So there has been cause to worry about the cornerback group — and the situation hasn’t improved. In fact, this worrisome position group has been disappointing so far.
Finding cornerbacks is hard. Finding good ones is an even more daunting task. You have to get a little bit lucky to build depth at the position. The Chiefs need more chances at finding even average contributors to help them achieve their lofty goals.
During the next month, there aren’t going to be too many good cornerbacks to acquire. Without a significant move for a guy like Patrick Peterson (who will miss six games to start the season) or Xavier Rhodes (a low likelihood), your best bets would be to acquire the loser of a position battle, obtain an expensive (but not very good) player or take an absolute swing on a player with traits you like — but one who is available because another team has given up on them.
I went through NFL rosters, trying to find some potential moves. The results are largely underwhelming.
Might actually help
Trade for Anthony Brown or Jourdan Lewis, Dallas Cowboys
From a production standpoint, one of these two might be the best the Chiefs could realistically get.
The Cowboys believe they are in Super Bowl contention, so a move for Byron Jones seems unlikely. But in addition to Jones, they have the Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott to sign in the near future — which means they have some big decisions to make.
Brown and Lewis are fighting for the slot cornerback position, and the loser could be flipped for an asset that helps them address needs for this year or in the near future.
Brown will likely not be able to be brought back as an unrestricted free agent this year. He earned a performance escalator contract this season, bumping his salary to over $2 million. He had two sacks, an interception and a forced fumble last year. If he loses out to Lewis, the Cowboys might be willing to part with him.
Lewis lost his starting position last year after getting out of the good graces of the coaching staff, but has shown some ability. He only played 18% of the defensive snaps last season, but had 46 tackles — two of them for loss. He also had an interception the year before as a rookie.
You’d need on of these two (or Kendall Fuller) to play outside in this scenario, but the alternative is probably not any better. Typically, more slot corners are available (or potentially available) than outside corners.
When you’re desperate, you have to get creative.
Sheesh... it’s that bad?
Trade for Trae Waynes, Minnesota Vikings
Waynes’ 2019 base salary of $9 million is now guaranteed. So if the Vikings want to move on from him, he’ll have to be traded; if Waynes is cut, the the team will have to eat that $9 million. Waynes is not worth that price tag, but the Chiefs have the cap room to make the move; desperate times can lead to desperate measures. With the kind of depth the Vikings have at the position, trading for Waynes could cost very little. Minnesota could open some cap space (which they need) and pick up a conditional 2021 late-round pick.
Waynes wouldn’t move the needle, but would give the cornerback room a veteran presence. He wouldn’t represent a large upgrade, but he’s at least a proven commodity — even if an overpriced one.
Sign or trade for Artie Burns, Pittsburgh Steelers
Burns is bad. The tape he put out last year is not something that’s going to excite anyone or make this team better. He would be a low-cost flyer — someone you hope will benefit from a change of scenery. Trading for him would cost a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick — or perhaps someone on the roster the Chiefs aren’t going to keep anyway. In a scenario like this, you’re just trying to get out ahead of the waiver wire , hoping you can coach a player with the raw materials Burns possesses into someone who can contribute.
The Chiefs need a splash
These ideas are small moves that might move the needle just a hint — or at least give you depth. It’s not reason to be optimistic. In fact, it’s kind of depressing.
At the trade deadline, there could potentially be more options available as teams realize their playoff hopes are dead. The Chiefs could just try to survive until then, score a billion points and hope they can find help mid-season.
it might be that the Chiefs can invest a significant asset in a quality corner, but it just doesn’t happen that often. There are big questions at the position. The team is going to have to be creative to find a solid solution.