On Sunday, we got the contract parameters for newly-signed special teams ace Antonio Hamilton, learning that the Kansas City Chiefs had taken advantage of a special provision of the league’s CBA to save some money against the salary cap. By week’s end, we learned the team had done the same thing with new tackle Mike Remmers.
As a one-year deal, the full amount of Hamilton’s $1.05 million contract (a signing bonus of $137,500 on top of an NFL-minimum salary of $910,000) would normally count against the salary cap. But as Aaron Wilson notes [in his tweet], Hamilton’s contract uses the veteran salary benefit allowed under Article 27 of the recently-signed NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement. This provision of the deal permits his contract to carry a cap hit of only $875,000, allowing the Chiefs to save $160,000 against the cap.
This part of the CBA is not new. Last season, the Chiefs used a similar section of the 2011 CBA to sign fullback Anthony Sherman to a one-year, $1.04 million contract that counted just $735,000 against the cap.
Spotrac reported changes in a total of 14 Chiefs contracts.
The most significant increases in cap hit occurred with the contracts of linebacker Damien Wilson, center Austin Reiter and defensive end Alex Okafor. The most significant reduction in cap hit is from the contract of running back Damien Williams, whose roster bonus decreased by $125,000. The rest of the changes in individual cap hits are all minor — none more than $75,000 more or less — but when combined, they represented $2.6 million that is no longer available to the team.
On March 13, the XFL informed its players they were now free to sign with other teams after the league had suspended the rest of its 2020 games. The NFL, however, wanted its teams to wait until the new league had officially ended its season before signing any XFL players. That happened last Friday. By Monday, the Chiefs had signed quarterback Jordan Ta’amu of the St. Louis Battlehawks.
Ta’amu led the Battlehawks to a 3-2 record before the league had to cancel the rest of the season due to the coronavirus outbreak. He finished third in passing yards (1,050), only behind Josh Johnson and P.J. Walker, who is now a member of the Carolina Panthers. A dual-threat QB, Ta’amu finished seventh in the league with 217 rushing yards.
As a senior with Ole Miss in 2019, Ta’amu completed 266 of 418 passes (63.6%) for 3,918 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran for 342 yards and six touchdowns on 116 attempts.
The week before, the NFL had announced that its GamePass service would be free for a limited time, making all games played since 2009 available to stream. So on Monday, Ethan used an analytical approach (because that’s what he does) to identify the most exciting, dominant (and terrible) Chiefs games to watch.
Over a decade ago, Brian Burke — an ESPN analytics specialist who is known as the godfather of NFL analytics — published an article detailing how to use a win probability model to capture a game’s excitement. Since then, others have used similar metrics to quantify the excitement of other sports like NCAA Basketball.
So in order to help you narrow down your choices, I’ve applied an analytical approach to finding Chiefs games that would be fun to watch.
Prefer a less analytical approach? On Tuesday, Arrowhead Pride user davidbeck1 wrote a FanPost with a list of his favorite Chiefs games to watch on GamePass.
Since the Chiefs weren’t doing much in free agency, Tuesday morning found Craig taking a look at what other division teams had been doing.
I’m really unsure what the plan is with the Broncos running back rotation at the moment. Phillip Lindsay is a dynamic option in the Broncos backfield and appeared to be “the guy” at times for the Denver offense. When they wanted to give Lindsay a breather, they were able to bring in a patient runner in Royce Freeman. These two backs were counting just over $1.8M against the Broncos 2020 salary cap. Adding Melvin Gordon — who is a good player when healthy — on a $7M cap hit in 2020 and a $9M cap hit in 2021 is questionable to me. Gordon has certainly shown better than Freeman at points in his career, but he’s perpetually struggled with health issues and looks to take snaps away from an already strong running back room. With other holes on the team, it seems like the money spent on Gordon might have been better served elsewhere.
The Chiefs re-signed two popular free-agent players on Tuesday night: fullback Anthony Sherman and the defensive tackle many fans now call “MVPennel.”
In eight games for the Chiefs in 2019, Pennel registered 24 tackles (13 solo), including two tackles for loss, 1.0 sack and two quarterback hits. He had seven tackles in the playoffs (two solo) and one pass defensed.
Pennel was inactive for the Chiefs’ last loss of the season to the Tennessee Titans, which caused a slight uproar among Chiefs fans.
Pennel never missed a game after that, which proved to be nine victories in a row. That included Super Bowl LIV, during which Pennel hit 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo on a play in the second quarter that led to a Bashaud Breeland interception.
NFL free agency giveth — and NFL free agency taketh away. On Wednesday, another popular Chiefs free agent called “The Belldozer” was signed by another team. While Blake Bell’s popularity was less about his production for the Chiefs than it was about his background as an Oklahoma Sooner (and his uncle Mike Bell, who played for the Chiefs from 1979-1991), it made many fans sad to see him go.
With Andy Reid using his fair share of multiple-tight end sets, Bell played 397 offensive snaps (37.8%) during the 2019 regular season for the Chiefs. He also added 209 special teams snaps (50%).
Primarily serving as a blocker, Bell’s offensive output was limited; he registered only eight catches for 67 yards in 2019. His lone touchdown of the season came in the divisional round against the Houston Texans — a score that put the Chiefs up 48-31 in an eventual 51-31 win.
Also on Wednesday, the NFL ordered teams that had not already closed their team facilities to do so — prompting John to wonder if the Chiefs could find a strategic advantage in the chaos of the pandemic.
Previous league directives had already prohibited them from meeting with draft prospects and free agents in their own facilities — or even traveling to meet players under consideration. Workouts, meetings and medical exams are a critical part of offseason decisions. Without them, teams are essentially reduced to making decisions that any armchair general manager could make from their favorite Barcalounger.
While commissioner Goodell should be applauded for making the effort to be sure all teams operate under the same conditions in these extraordinary circumstances, it seems likely that this will reduce the overall quality of the personnel decisions teams will be making. This could have substantive effects on all NFL teams in the coming season — and maybe even for years to come.
On Thursday, Pete listed five NFL free agents the Chiefs could consider signing — starting with one who wore red and gold in 2019.
Love the one you’re with? Bashaud 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.
A FanPost — this one by Chiefwanka — also addressed five free agents the Chiefs could target. Each article was written without knowledge of the other, but both still highlighted two of the same players.
Another Chiefs free agent departed on Friday.
The Bills selected Ragland with their second-round pick back in 2016, though he tore his ACL during training camp. Despite being healthy in 2017, he never saw the field in Buffalo.
With the Chiefs, Ragland appeared in 42 games, compiling 32 starts. He finished his Chiefs tenure with 160 tackles (100 solo), including 10 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one touchdown.
After NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told teams that the NFL draft would be conducted as scheduled in late April, Ron wrote more about how the Chiefs could be well-positioned to come into the 2020 season with an advantage.
With these unprecedented times, strategies and goals have to be adjustable. It’s hard to believe Veach’s offseason is going the way he envisioned it would be going the day after the Super Bowl. The uncertainty of this global pandemic is negatively affecting NFL teams’ ability to evaluate free agents and potential draft selections — and a team as talented and confident as the Chiefs could go conservative as a result.
Every team will have to deal with the negative consequences of this potentially altered offseason. If the Chiefs minimize personnel turnover while the rest of their competitors are busy trying to embed new players in shortened time periods, it may show up as a distinct advantage early on in the 2020 season.