On Sunday, Tom contributed a look at the historical precedent for the success of Super Bowl champions who returned with a large number of returning players
The Kansas City Chiefs will be returning with 91% of their starters in place. Had the Chiefs been trying to defend their crown with a percentage of starters closer to any of the teams above, we may have been able to make an educated guess on how “running it back” may go. If we really want to take something from this, maybe we can say that having over 75% of starters come back historically increases the Chiefs’ chances of making it to Tampa.
It also is worth noting that had the Chiefs decided to not pick up options, tag or re-sign the other five guys they could have lost, the team would have been bringing back just 64% of its Super Bowl starters — a less than favourable number based on the above.
On Monday, we reported on NBC Sports analyst Peter King’s annual one-and-only mock draft — saying the Kansas City Chiefs would pick LSU corner Jeff Gladney with the 32nd pick — and also mentioned there was a rumor the Chiefs would trade up to get Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs.
Gladney has been a hot pick for the Chiefs this draft analysis season dating back to February. But King’s selection seems way less important than the “craziest rumor of the first round,” which involved Kansas City.
Ruggs ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, the fastest time of all draft prospects and six-hundredths of a second faster than wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who was last year’s top pick and the team’s Mack Lee Hill (rookie of the year) award-winner. With Sammy Watkins back, Ruggs would get a year to develop. Then in 2021, the Chiefs could be looking at Tyreek Hill, Hardman and Ruggs as their wide receiver trio — the latter two on rookie contracts.
The rumor King had brought to the forefront set tongues wagging across the NFL media landscape. On Tuesday, we reported on an exchange between Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless during Fox Sports 1’s “Undisputed” — where Bayless went above and beyond his usual criticism of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
Bayless characterized Reid as some kind of Mafia lieutenant.
“He thinks he can get away with it, because he’s a ‘made man’ now,” he said. “He got crowned. He got christened. He is a Super Bowl champion. And now, I won’t be surprised at all if he neglects the defense in favor of getting one more toy. [Ruggs] would be some kind of toy — and to your point, Shannon: he would be the ultimate luxury because he’s the fastest man in the draft.”
Wednesday brought news that on the eve of the NFL Draft — with the Chiefs having as little in $55,000 in cap space with which to work — the team was restructuring the contract of right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
While the precise details of the restructure are not yet known, we can tell you that according to Spotrac, Duvernay-Tardif’s contract is set to pay him $6.4 million in base salary in 2020. A $437,000 roster bonus, a workout bonus of $50,000 and $2 million in prorated signing bonus make his cap hit $8.9 million for the season.
If the restructure is similar to the one given to defensive end Frank Clark in mid March — where a portion of Duvernary-Tardif’s base salary is converted to signing bonus and spread into the last three years of his contract — the move could clear as much as $3.7 million in cap space. His contract currently extends through the 2022 season, when he will be 31 years old.
Also on Wednesday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes appeared in a live Instagram interview with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, in which he talked about the heroes of the team’s Super Bowl run.
“I think our offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is one,” said Mahomes. “You see him come up in these head coaching discussions — the way he prepares us every single week. He holds us accountable. He’s a guy coach (Andy) Reid really trusts to go out there and really build these game plans and help us go out there and score all these points. Another one — I know he’s not unsung — Tyrann Mathieu. The first day he got there, I’ve never seen anything like it. He just automatically was a leader on the team because of the mindset and the work ethic that he has... Another guy on the defense — I think Chris Jones did a great job of helping us out in huge situations and making big plays.”
In another article about the interview, we told you what Mahomes said about the offseason, Tom Brady going to Tampa Bay and the wildly popular ESPN series “The Last Dance.”
Since Thursday was Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, it seemed appropriate to start with Ron’s recap of some of the worst hot takes about just-drafted Chiefs players.
USA Today’s Steven Ruiz gave the Chiefs a C- grade for their trade up to select quarterback Mahomes, which flirted with the idea that he wouldn’t even turn into an NFL starter.
“Calling Mahomes a project is a major understatement. He’s nowhere near ready to play in the NFL. And, honestly, he may never be. Between his inconsistent accuracy due to poor mechanics, his tendency to bail from clean pockets and his lack of field vision, he’s going to leave as many big plays on the field as he creates. This was a risky pick.”
But the big news on Draft Day was the Chiefs’ selection of a versatile LSU running back.
Of all the running backs in the 2020 draft class, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is tailor-made for head coach Andy Reid’s offense.
He is unquestionably a three-down back. Among all running backs in the class, he is the best route runner — and has a more varied route tree. He has natural hands — and is more than comfortable catching the ball away from his frame. The National Champion LSU Tigers frequently flexed him out, asking him to run routes typically run by wide receivers.
We had a lot more coverage about the team’s first pick:
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of Clyde Edwards-Helaire
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire just made the Chiefs offense even scarier
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire was Patrick Mahomes’ first choice
On Friday morning, Ethan brought his advanced analytical perspective to the Chiefs’ first pick, arguing that while Edwards-Helaire is a fantastic running back, there were downsides to his selection.
The offense is already incredibly efficient. In fact, the past two years have been shown to be the two most-efficient years for any offense over the last two decades. This means that any gains the team receives from their new first-round pick will be minimal. The problem is that the cost was not minimal.
Mahomes is going to get paid soon — and he is going to get paid a lot. That cost will be well worth it, but it will put a stress on the team’s cap situation. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach will need to find surplus value — players whose production is worth more than their cost. It’s likely that running back is the easiest position where that can be done; the Chiefs need not look any further than their own recent history to see examples of why this is true.
So it’s likely that the decision present Brett Veach made on Thursday night will just make decisions future Brett Veach has to make that much harder.
Before the draft resumed on Friday night, John provided an article pointing out that while Ethan’s point of view was valid, the pick had to be viewed in the circumstances of the moment — and Pete covered what Brett Veach and Andy Reid had to say about the selection.
Friday night draft coverage
The Chiefs had two picks in the second and third rounds. We covered them in detail.
- Chiefs select Mississippi State LB Willie Gay at No. 63
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of LB Willie Gay
- Linebacker Willie Gay draws comparison to Chiefs legend Derrick Johnson
- Chiefs select TCU tackle Lucas Niang at No. 96
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of OT Lucas Niang
Saturday draft coverage
The Chiefs had two more picks in rounds four and five — but after we thought they were done for the day, they traded a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Tennessee Titans to come back into the seventh round.
- Chiefs select Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed at No. 138
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of Louisiana Tech’s L’Jarius Sneed
- With new Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, it’s all about speed
- Chiefs select Michigan DE Michael Danna at No. 177
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of Michigan DE Michael Danna
- The Chiefs add versatility to the trenches with defensive end Michael Danna
- Trade alert! Chiefs select Tulane cornerback Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes at No. 237
- Grading the Chiefs’ pick of Tulane CB Thakarius “BoPete” Keyes