From the FanPosts -- JD
Chris Jones is The Man.
If the Kansas City Chiefs -- and all of us -- had our wish, he would be a Chief for life. Unfortunately, the realities of the salary cap sometimes make it so that what's best for the team as a whole is trading away a great player it can't afford.
I'm on record saying that if they wanted to, the Chiefs could afford to keep Jones. There are ways to make it happen. But a strong argument can be made that it would be to the team's detriment to do so, as it could prevent them from making needed moves at other positions.
What would go into making a team an ideal trading partner for Jones? These are the elements that I think will be relevant:
- Positional need
- Cap space
- Outside of AFC
The first two elements don't really need any explanation.
The third reflects a clear trend in recent major trades. Teams don't like to trade high-quality players within their own conference, because they don't want to risk that player having an opportunity to derail a playoff run. It's still possible, but it's not preferred.
The final one is important -- but often overlooked. Not all situations are the same, but what often motivates a trading partner is the coaching and front office situation. To use a common phrase, are they in "win now" mode? Is the coach or general manager on the "hot seat?" These are the kinds of things that can make for motivated trade partners.
With these criteria in mind, I see five teams as the most likely landing spots -- that is, if the team does decide to move on from Jones:
Elements Checked: 4/4
If Jarran Reed does in fact depart Seattle in free agency, McCoy would be an excellent replacement and really, an upgrade. Despite Carolina’s leaky rushing defense in 2019, McCoy has been a good-to-great run defender over the course of his career. More importantly, he would be a vast improvement on Reed as a pass rusher. In Reed’s career, he has totaled 15.5 sacks, 87 pressures and 45 quarterback hits. Over the same span, McCoy has totaled 24 sacks, 139 pressures and 73 quarterback hits. Even in Reed’s career year of 2018, he posted a pressure percentage (9.4) that was lower than McCoy’s in 2019, when he totaled the third-fewest sacks of his career.
Spotrac projects the Seahawks to have $59 million in cap space -- and they're in the NFC.
I believe their "win now" component comes not from the coach or front office being on the hot seat, but from having a team that is a real Super Bowl contender with an MVP-caliber quarterback. Seattle doesn't want to waste a single year -- and when your team might just need a couple pieces to get back to the dance, you pull the trigger. A rookie just won't provide the kind of immediate impact Jones would.
Elements Checked: 4/4
The truth is the Lions don’t have a single player on their roster that they can confidently say will be a part of this team’s long-term starting plan. Even if Harrison decides to stick around, we now know he’s on borrowed time in his playing career. The Lions will need to start looking for their run-stuffing nose tackle of the future, starting this offseason.
Maybe even more importantly, the Lions need to generate some pass rush up the middle. They need someone to collapse the pocket up the middle. Last year, the Lions doled out $8+ million to Mike Daniels hoping to fix that problem, but it obviously didn’t work out. Maybe they go back to that well again this year, hoping that health will help Daniels recapture his magic.
Detroit is also in the NFC -- and has $46 million in cap space.
This is head coach Matt Patricia's last chance. If the Lions don't make the playoffs this year, he is likely out. That's why he was never going to trade Matt Stafford -- as some rumors suggested. That hot-seat mentality could motivate him to make a move that will provide immediate impact.
Elements Checked: 4/4
Cardswire actually published an article begging the Cardinals to go after Jones.
How does this fit in with the Cardinals? They certainly have a few notable holes to fill this offseason, highlighted by right tackle, wide receiver, inside linebacker, and defensive line. Many would argue that the Cards would be wise to use their cap space to fill more holes as opposed to spending for a premium piece like Jones.
That is the mindset that has kept this organization in mediocrity for five years.
The Cardinals need star power. They are on the right track with Kyler Murray at the helm, and have a solid defensive nucleus to build upon with Chandler Jones, Budda Baker, and Patrick Peterson, but they need more.
An NFC team, Arizona has $39 million available.
For the Cardinals, the motivation factor might not be strong; depending on how you look at it, you might consider this a 3/4. In his second year coaching a rebuilding team, I think their Kliff Kingsbury probably still has a long leash. With the number one overall pick at quarterback, he is still enjoying his honeymoon phase -- so if he tanks this year, it's doubtful he would be fired. I'm not sure the same can be said of the general manager, though. Steve Keim has been under fire a few times. Arizona is in the toughest division in football and will want to show progress. Jones could be a big help.
4. Carolina Panthers
Elements Checked: 3/4
An article in the Charlotte Observer shows why defensive tackle is a need for the Panthers.
Three of their defensive tackles are entering free agency. Gerald McCoy and Vernon Butler are unrestricted free agents and Dontari Poe will become an unrestricted free agent if his team option is not picked up.
It would make sense for the Panthers to try and re-sign McCoy to be a defensive leader on a rebuilding team, but the soon-to-be 32-year old may rather go elsewhere. It seems unlikely the Panthers re-sign Butler, a former first-round pick, after he punched a player vs. the Colts and then stuck his middle finger up at the crowd in Indianapolis after being ejected.
Another NFC team, Carolina has $35 million in cap space -- which is enough -- but if they decide to move on from Cam Newton, they will add $19 million more.
Head coach Matt Rhule just started a long-term contract on a rebuilding team. He could go the route of the Las Vegas Raiders' Jon Gruden and Tom Flores by purging star players to accumulate draft picks -- which might not make him a motivated buyer.
5. Indianapolis Colts
Elements Checked: 3/4
While acknowledging that most of the speculation about the Colts revolves around other positions, an Indianapolis Star article said that general manager Chris Ballard might take a different approach.
Nearly all of the speculation and attention paid to the Colts so far this offseason has centered on the passing game.
Positions like quarterback. Wide receiver. Tight end.
Finding the right answer to the quarterback quandary remains the most important decision of this offseason for the Colts, but there are positions outside the passing game that also demand attention. And general manager Chris Ballard is a man who has always been preoccupied with building a team that dominates up front.
"I mean, y’all obsess about wideouts," Ballard joked at the end of his Combine media availability. "I obsess about o-line and d-line."
The Colts have a whopping $86 million to spend -- and could easily afford Jones.
But Indianapolis is an AFC team. If the Chiefs do decide to trade within the conference, they will certainly steer clear of divisional teams and clear Super Bowl challengers like the Baltimore Ravens or Tennessee Tennessee Titans. The Colts didn't make the playoffs -- and might be turning to Phillip Rivers as their quarterback. That doesn't bode well for their future success, which could limit the concern the Chiefs might have about an AFC trade.
Head coach Frank Reich is only two years into a five-year deal, so he is probably pretty safe. But Ballard was Kansas City's director of football operations when Jones was drafted -- and knows Chiefs general manager Brett Veach well. Those factors might make something happen when it otherwise might not.
Dark Horse: Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati has the need and the money. While an AFC team, they aren't a challenger to the Chiefs. If they end up drafting LSU quarterback Joe Burrow with the first overall pick -- as many expect -- they might want to prove to him that they really do want to win.