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Making 8 free agency decisions for the Chiefs

Should they stay or should they go? I answer that question for eight Chiefs offensive players hitting free agency

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency starting in roughly a month, the Kansas City Chiefs need to use the time to evaluate which players to possibly sign — but also which of their 16 unrestricted free agents to bring back to re-sign. The cap space impacted by COVID-19 will be an obstacle to overcome, but there are realistic ways to free up a respectable amount of room for 2021.

I looked at every Chiefs player that had their contract expire after the 2020 season and decided whether the team should attempt to re-sign them or not.

In this post, we begin with the Chiefs’ offensive free agents:

Sammy Watkins

It’s easy to continue giving chances to Watkins — a very talented wide receiver that has played a significant role in two of the three Chiefs’ playoff runs he’s been a part of. It’s the latest one that proves why his unreliability has become too much to accommodate.

A calf strain suffered in Week 16 nagged him enough to keep him off the field for over a month. When he finally played in Super Bowl LV, he was nearly invisible — catching his only target for 13 yards while playing the lowest percentage of offensive snaps he’s played all year.

The inconsistency has become too much of a burden. The Chiefs needed a third pass-catcher to step up in the championship game; a healthy, confident Watkins can absolutely be that — but there’s no telling when you’ll get that (and when you won’t) from the soon-to-be 28-year-old receiver.

Even in the case of an inexpensive, short-term deal — I’d let another team give him a chance.

Verdict: Let him walk

Demarcus Robinson

Another underperforming pass-catcher in the postseason is hitting the open market. Robinson finished with two catches for 25 yards in this past playoff run. When you look at the postseason snap counts, Robinson’s playing time has been eaten into by teammate Byron Pringle. After Robinson had more snaps in the Divisional round, Pringle finished with significantly more in the AFC championship and played just as many in Super Bowl LV.

This trend should continue. It’s starting to feel obvious that Pringle — who is a restricted free agent — is a better player than Robinson. I believe the Chiefs should replace what Robinson could contribute with a draft pick and allow a retained Pringle to step into the greater role.

Verdict: Let him walk

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Reiter

The key to a great offensive line is continuity, but there shouldn’t be much from the team’s Super Bowl lineup. There need to be changes made along the front five, and that includes center Austin Reiter. He’s been the center for the Chiefs’ two Super Bowl trips — taking every postseason snap in the six games — but a three-week stretch earlier in 2020 hints at how the team feels about him.

In Week 6, backup Daniel Kilgore surprisingly started in Reiter’s place — and played the following two games before Reiter came back for the rest of the year. That should tell you that the coaching staff was looking for a boost at the center position — and likely still is.

Reiter hasn’t been bad, but the 30-year-old’s ability shouldn’t be difficult for a younger free agent or draft pick to replicate.

Verdict: Let him walk

Daniel Kilgore

Kilgore will turn 34 years old in 2021 — and the backup position he possessed can hopefully be filled by a young, developmental player like Darryl Williams: the undrafted free agent signed by the Chiefs last offseason who recently signed a reserve/future contract with the club.

Verdict: Let him walk

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kelechi Osemele

Osemele brought some excitement to the left guard position that has been constantly changing the past few seasons. Osemele was signed in late July 2020 after a season-ending neck injury in 2019 made the 31-year-old undesirable, apparently.

Through the first four games of the season, Osemele displayed power and nastiness that was sorely missed after he tore ligaments in both knees in Week 5. His replacement, Nick Allegretti, shared the physicality, but not to Osemele’s extent.

The severity of the injury will discourage any NFL team from signing Osemele. No official report has been made on the progress of his recovery, but he regularly posts himself exercising on Instagram.

If he is able to get back on the field for 2021, I want it to be in a Chiefs uniform. Kansas City should use the veteran salary benefit to sign him to a one-year contract — resulting in a cap hit of $850,000 for next season. Even if he is just experienced depth as he fully recovers, there is value to having Osemele around.

Verdict: Re-sign to one-year deal

Mike Remmers

With the questionable status of both Chiefs starting offensive tackles, it would make sense to retain a versatile veteran like Mike Remmers — who played at least 75 snaps at every offensive line position other than center in 2020. However, Remmers’ age of 32 years old — and the younger options Kansas City has — makes a difference.

2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang should be returning from his COVID-19 opt-out. He will join linemen Martinas Rankin, Yasir Durant and reserve/future signee Prince Tega Wanogho as options to backup the tackles like Remmers did this past season — while also developing into legitimate options, potentially.

Verdict: Let him walk

NFL: AFC Championship Game-Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Sherman

For the third straight offseason, Sherman will have his contract with the Chiefs expire. I’m hopeful that the Chiefs make it a third straight offseason where a one-year deal is agreed upon.

Sherman’s special teams role and familiarity with the offense as a fullback make him an easy choice to bring back inexpensively; it’s been around $1 million each of the last two seasons. The veteran salary benefit could make his 2021 cap hit even cheaper.

Verdict: Re-sign to one-year deal

Le’Veon Bell

It was a good idea to sign Bell when the opportunity arose midseason — but there’s no reason to bring him back to a crowded running back room. With Damien Williams potentially returning from his COVID-19 opt-out, the Chiefs would already have three backs they can trust; Darrel Williams is a restricted free agent who will likely be back.

Verdict: Let him walk

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