It has been so quiet that the team’s signings of returners like defensive tackle Mike Pennel and fullback Anthony Sherman have proved more interesting to the fan base than newcomers such as special teams ace Antonio Hamilton and offensive lineman Mike Remmers.
That — of course — is due to the salary cap situation. As of this writing, we have the Chiefs more than $1 million in the negative. With Kansas City needing raises for Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and maybe even Travis Kelce, that makes things difficult.
So who is left for the Chiefs to sign in what will be the third wave? Here is a list of five names that Kansas City could be considering:
1. CB Bashaud Breeland
2019: 48 tackles (37 solo), 8 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 touchdown
2019 (advanced): 30 completions on 62 targets (48.4%) for 541 yards; opposing passer rating: 92.2
Love the one you’re with? Breeland has to be seeking something close to the $24 million he lost back in 2018, when a laceration to his foot cost him his contract with the Carolina Panthers. He was the Chiefs’ most reliable cornerback in 2019, and he registered 18 tackles (15 solo) and three passes defensed in the playoffs and an interception in Super Bowl LIV. The longer Breeland goes without a team, the better it might be for the Chiefs if they would like to retain him. Perhaps his price-tag will come down while the Chiefs buy time to figure out how to properly compensate him.
2. CB Ronald Darby
2019 (11 games): 37 tackles (34 solo), 11 passes defensed, 2 interceptions
2019 (advanced): 43 completions on 67 targets (64.2%) for 705 yards; opposing passer rating: 116.8
(originally posted in our 10 cornerback options)
Ronald Darby visited the Chiefs last season before signing a one-year, $8.5 million contract to remain in Philadelphia. Coming off surgery for an ACL injury sustained in 2018, Darby’s numbers weren’t as good — and then he was placed on injured reserve with a hip injury. The former second-rounder may be better in his second year removed from the surgery. Given how last year went, he might be willing to take a one-year prove-it deal similar to what the Chiefs gave Breeland. Certainly, Kansas City has already shown an interest in the 26-year-old.
3. LB Mark Barron
2019: 82 tackles (58 solo), 3.0 sacks, 4 QB hits, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception
2019 (advanced coverage): 52 completions on 71 targets (73.2%) for 502 yards; opposing passer rating: 96.1
Last week, NFL insider Adam Caplan tweeted that the Chiefs were in the market for a coverage linebacker. According to Pro Football Focus, Barron, a former seventh overall pick, posted his best coverage grade back in 2016, a number that has declined over the last four seasons. That trend caused the Steelers to save more than $5 million against the cap by releasing Barron. The 30-year-old former safety is ripe for a one-year prove-it deal, and he would have all the motivation in the world to get back to that coverage player he once was: one more payday.
4. RB Devonta Freeman
2019: 184 rushes for 656 yards (3.6 Y/A), 2 touchdowns; 59 receptions for 410 yards, 4 touchdowns
Earlier this month, the Falcons saved $3.5 million against the salary cap by releasing Freeman. It has been a long time since he has rushed for 1,000 yards — the last time was the second of back-to-back years in 2016. But what makes Freeman attractive is his dual-threat ability. In 2019, Freeman had 184 rushes for 656 yards for a disappointing 3.6 yards per attempt. But he also had 59 catches for 410 yards. His 1,066 yards from scrimmage last season would have been second on the Chiefs — behind only Travis Kelce. It is a good bet that Andy Reid would find a way to make the most out of Freeman, who is still only 28 and will be a second year removed from groin surgery in 2019. Based on their social media reactions, many Chiefs fans don’t want to see the team take a running back in the early rounds of the draft. A running back corps with Freeman (for the right price), Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams would ensure that doesn’t happen.
5. WR Paul Richardson
2019 (10 games): 28 receptions for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns
Richardson played under current Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as a college player in Colorado — and he relished the experience, telling The Athletic he loved his old-school mentality:
Bieniemy would say, “‘You are a man. You gotta hold your own. You’ve got to stand on your own two feet.’ And that’s what I mean by old school. He didn’t baby us. You were 18, you had to step up.”
Richardson, 27, signed a five-year, $40 million deal with Washington in 2018, but the team released him this offseason, saving $2.5 million against their cap. Richardson’s best season came in 2017 with Seattle, when he had 703 receiving yards. He has since recorded a combined 507 yards over the past two seasons. Having run 4.4 at his scouting combine, Richardson could be a fit in the “Legion of Zoom.” He may like the idea of turning to his old mentor Bieniemy — and offensive genius Andy Reid — for the career turnaround he needs.