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Five bold predictions for the Chiefs offseason

The offseason picks up on Tuesday with press conferences from head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach. Here are five things I can see happening when it’s all said and done.

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Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

It is NFL Scouting Combine week — the time when the personnel staff for all 32 teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, head to Indianapolis to interview players who they could potentially select in late April’s NFL Draft.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach are scheduled to speak to the media beginning at 11 a.m. Arrowhead Time on Tuesday, marking the unofficial start of the offseason.

Before that happens, I came up with five (somewhat) bold predictions for the Chiefs:

1) The Chiefs find a way to keep Chris Jones, at least for 2020.

I convinced myself during the 2019 season that the Chiefs determined Chris Jones’ fate a long time ago. As general manager Brett Veach did with Dee Ford last offseason, the Chiefs would tag Jones, then move his rights for the highest draft compensation out there.

Then the Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV, and I watched in Miami as Jones shouted about how the Chiefs wanted to “build a f—ing dynasty in Kansas City.”

In real life, procrastination is never the answer, but sometimes, it is the best possible option in the NFL. Despite Jones’ genuine desire to stay in Kansas City, his representatives won’t allow him to take less than what he is worth, meaning I think the Chiefs franchise tag him for approximately $16.272 million in 2020, according to CBS Sports cap expert Joel Corry.

Despite their apparent friendship, I can’t see Jones pulling a Le’Veon Bell and sitting out a year. Jones signs the franchise tag a few weeks before the regular season, and both sides re-address the situation next year.

2) The Chiefs trade Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for a fourth-round pick and they release Sammy Watkins.

Where will the Chiefs find that cap space for Jones?

How about by trading right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for a fourth-round NFL Draft pick, saving $5 million against the cap, and cutting wide receiver Sammy Watkins, saving $14 million against the cap.

Duvernay-Tardif has served the Chiefs as their starting right guard for the past five seasons, but with the cap situation tight and Kansas City having options in Andrew Wylie, Martinas Rankin and last year’s seventh-rounder, Nick Allegretti, the team could look to move Duvernay-Tardif for the right price.

In 899 snaps played during the 2019 regular season, Duvernay-Tardif allowed just two sacks, (35th) among guards, according to Pro Football Focus. Perhaps there is a team out there willing to part with a mid-rounder for the 29-year-old who is under contract until 2023.

If there is one thing we know about Watkins, it’s that is he won’t be coming back for that cap hit. Watkins has loved playing and living in Kansas City, but his comments from earlier this month make me believe he would be willing to go elsewhere. It is difficult to convince someone with that attitude to take a significant pay cut.

3) The Chiefs’ announcement for Patrick Mahomes’ new contract comes within the next three weeks.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted out something that caught my eye back on February 20:

As players and owners work through the details of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it appears more and more likely that they may come to a new deal ahead of the start of the new league year on March 18. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported that a new Mahomes contract would likely come after a new CBA, “because everyone needs to know the landscape and the factors they’re working with.”

The Chiefs are in the best possible position to know about those hypothetical parameters, as team owner Clark Hunt is now the head of the NFL’s finance committee. If general manager Brett Veach and the Chiefs have really been planning for Mahomes’ new deal for as long as they say they have, couldn’t you assume most of the contract’s terms are done?

I think we see Mahomes sign the richest contract in NFL history within the next three weeks.

4) The Chiefs trade out of the first round of the NFL Draft.

The fortunate part of having Veach as a general manager to write about is how transparent he is when conducting interviews. If he believes a draft is strong when it comes to depth, he will let you know.

And that is exactly what he told old friend BJ Kissel on the Chiefs dot com “In the Trenches” podcast on Friday.

“This is an extremely deep draft,” said Veach. “Certain drafts are deeper than others at certain positions but I think as a whole in the totality, just from position to position across the board...just in the first two rounds, we have anywhere from eight to 14 more players this year opposed to last year’s draft, so we’re excited about that and we haven’t had a first round pick in a few years, so having a first-round pick in the draft this deep will certainly be exciting for us.”

There is no telling how the NFL Draft plays out, which makes this bold prediction so tough to nail. Mock drafts are usually ruined in the matter of a few picks.

But I think the odds are the Chiefs identify a trade in which they believe they can still get their guy at say, pick 36 or 37, while increasing their pick count.

So the Chiefs start with five picks. Between this deal and the aforementioned for Duvernay-Tardif, they increase to seven. Veach can’t help himself — making a trade-up at some point — and the Chiefs leave the 2020 NFL Draft with six new players.

5) The Chiefs select a wide receiver with one of their top two picks.

One of those six players will be a wide receiver, and for the second season in a row, a wide receiver will be one of the team’s first two picks.

NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah held a conference call on Friday.

“In terms of the depth and the talent in this draft, wide receivers and corners, especially the wide receiver group, as deep as I’ve seen,” said Jeremiah. “I’ve got 27 wide receivers with top three-round grades in this draft. And consider average 31 are taken. We had a max of 35 taken in, I believe that was in 2017. So this is a really phenomenal group of wideouts. Not all those guys are going to go early. They’ll end up spreading throughout the draft. But it’s really a good group.”

Understandably, many Chiefs fans want to see the team select a linebacker or cornerback in the first two picks — and I think that happens, too. But don’t sleep on the fact that the Chiefs know they have the best quarterback in the league.

With Watkins probably departing, another weapon at wide receiver for Mahomes from one of the deepest wide receiver drafts in history makes all the sense in the world.

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