From the FanPosts -- JD
We have (rightfully) spent much of the offseason focused on on the contracts for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones. We know now how the Mahomes contract came out, but we still don't know about Jones' deal.
If Jones does not sign a long-term deal before the deadline on July 15, I see no reason to think it will ever happen; I think the Chiefs will tag him again in 2021 -- and then trade him.
But over the next two years, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has some very important decisions to make about other big-name players.
1. and 2. Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz
I am putting Fisher and Schwartz together because I think the decisions will be dependent on each other. I could see a the team bringing in a new tackle on one side in 2021, but I do not think they will replace both of them at once. Fisher and Schwartz each have two seasons left on their deals. Neither is overly cheap, but they also do not have ridiculously high cap numbers for their positions.
I think that to an extent, fans tend to overrate Fisher -- mostly because how pitiful Cameron Erving played in Fisher's absence. I think he is a good player -- but not a great one. So I would be very wary of giving him a new contract that locks him up at a high salary into his mid 30s.
But Schwartz is still one of the best at his position; I think he could play at a very high level well into his 30s. But I also think he is pretty clearly starting to think about life after football. So I will not be surprised if he retires earlier than you might expect.. If the Chiefs believe in Lucas Niang, they would be wasting a year of cheap control if he is not a starting tackle in 2021.
Prediction: Niang replaces one of them in 2021 -- and the replacement for the other is drafted is drafted in 2021. I expect Schwartz plans to play out his contract, but I will not be shocked if he retires after the 2020 season. If the Chiefs think Niang is ready -- and Fisher and Schwartz are ready to go for 2021 -- don't rule out the Chiefs trading one of the starters.
3. Travis Kelce
If there is a player on the Chiefs roster for whom emotions might overshadow the team's best long-term interests, it would be Kelce; there is no one else like him to put in the middle of the field for Mahomes. Yet at 31 years old this season, I don't know how much longer we can expect him to handle the workload he has had during the last six years.
As his football career comes closer to its end, Kelce's larger-than-life personality will probably lead to offers from television networks (or other entertainment sources). That said, the Chiefs didn't open this window with Mahomes' contract to let his best safety valve leave.
Prediction: As soon as the financial ramifications of the cornonavirus pandemic are more clear, the Chiefs will try to get ahead of the George Kittle extension by starting work on a deal to keep Kelce in Kansas City for as long as he wants to play.
The Landlord is under contract for two more seasons at very high cap hits for his position. I don't usually put a ton of value on things that can't be quantified with statistics, but Mathieu is an exception. I think he does so many things that he makes average players around him approach being good players. I don't see the Chiefs turning away from a big-time leader of the Super Bowl team.
Prediction: Sometime after the 2020 season -- again, when financial ramifications of the pandemic are better understood -- Mathieu will sign an extension that converts part of his 2021 cap number into signing bonus.
Like Fisher, I think Ward's play tends to be a bit overrated; the nightmares of Orlando Scandrick and Steven Nelson have made us think Ward is better than he is. But don't get me wrong: as a UDFA, he has been an incredible find. Next season, Ward is eligible for restricted free agency, which would give the Chiefs some power to retain him.
After a number of free-agency busts among cornerbacks, non-elite corners have not done very well in free agency this year. I think we overestimate how much money other teams would be willing to throw at Ward. Using Day 3 picks (and bringing in many UDFAs) at cornerback during the last two seasons tells me that the Chiefs are hoping to find another cheap corner -- and let someone else ultimately pay Ward the big money.
Prediction: The Chiefs offer Ward a second-round tender for 2021 and bring him back after no team wants to give up that compensation. They let him leave in free agency in 2022, hoping for a decent compensatory pick.
Six months ago, I would have imagined the Sammy Watkins era would be over-- yet here we are.
With Mahomes locked up, it is concerning that Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman are the only receivers who have actually caught an NFL pass and are under contract for 2021 -- though if he makes the team this year, Byron Pringle will still be under control as a restricted free agent.
I think what happens with Sammy depends on his season. If he looks like a surefire number one receiver, someone else is going to pay him -- and the Chiefs will take a comp pick. If he looks like a decent number two receiver, I think whatever the Chiefs can offer him will be in line with other offers he gets. The number of receivers drafted next April could hurt his market -- and that draft is expected to be receiver-heavy.
Prediction: Some team will selectively look at his big plays over his three seasons in Kansas City and decide Watkins is the player who can help their struggling quarterback. Sammy won't beat his Chiefs deal, but he will sign for more money than Kansas City wants to match.