As the prelude to free agency — the NFL’s infamous legal tampering period — began on Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs were immediately reported to be talking to the soon-to-be former Chicago Bears player.
The Chiefs are interested in free-agent wide receiver Allen Robinson, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. The Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns are the other teams interested — also according to Pelissero.
Robinson, 28, is finally an unrestricted free agent after playing for the Bears on the franchise tag for the 2021 NFL season. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020, respectively, Robinson only had 38 catches for 410 yards in 2021, as injuries cost him five games played.
Robinson appeared obviously unmotivated playing for a Bears team that went 6-11 on the season. The Bears fired Matt Nagy from their head coaching position, and Nagy recently landed back in Kansas City as the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach. It is worth wondering if tales of Robinson and Nagy clashing in Chicago could make the 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver choose another destination.
Monday dragged on without a Kansas City signing. But then early in the evening, the Chiefs re-signed fullback Michael Burton — and at 9:38 p.m. Arrowhead Time, there was a new Chief.
Reid, 25, first entered the league as a third-round pick made by the Texans in the 2018 NFL Draft. In 13 games in 2021, Reid compiled 66 tackles (41 solo), two for a loss, four passes defensed and a forced fumble.
Here is some instant analysis from Arrowhead Pride’s lead analyst, Ron Kopp:
When Reid came out of Stanford in the 2018 NFL Draft, he was known for an impressive blend of high football IQ and instinctual play making. Those skills have carried into a solidified starting role for four seasons in Houston, playing primarily as a deep safety — limiting deep completions with range and exciting ball-hawking abilities. The play making also shows up closer to the line of scrimmage with a willingness to tackle, but he is ultimately stronger defending the back end of pass coverage. He should give the Chiefs a starting safety, capable of being either the free or strong position in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.
The move, in all likelihood, marks the end of the Tyrann Mathieu era in Kansas City. Kansas City never offered Mathieu a contract, according to ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin.
Just before 11 p.m., the first pending Kansas City free agent was signed to another team.
The Chiefs acquired Ward, 25, at the end of training camp in 2018, with general manager Brett Veach sending offensive lineman Parker Ehinger to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for the cornerback. As it played out, Ward would appear in 56 games (including 43 starts) for the Chiefs over four seasons, while Ehinger would never play for the Cowboys after suffering a knee injury.
He tweeted from his personal Twitter account shortly after the announcement of the 49ers’ signing.
Thanks #ChiefsKingdom for 4 great years. Blessed to have been a part of such a great organization. Great coaches, great fans, & a great team. Love y’all.— Charvarius Ward (@itslilmooney) March 15, 2022
Ward finishes his Chiefs career with 222 tackles (168 solo), including three tackles for loss. He also had 29 passes defensed, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack. His résumé contains 10 playoff starts, including all three games en route to the Super Bowl LIV championship.
Before the week ended, former Chiefs backup center Austin Blythe would be signed by the Seattle Seahawks, while wide receiver Byron Pringle would land with the Bears.
As teams continued to legally tamper with players on Tuesday, we learned that Kansas City would get some extra picks in April’s draft.
The third-rounder comes as a result of resolution 2C-2A — in this case, personnel executive Ryan Poles leaving the Chiefs to become general manager of the Chicago Bears. The seventh-rounder comes as a result of the free agents lost and gained last offseason.
Here are the Chiefs’ now-nine picks in the 2021 NFL Draft:
Round 1 — No. 30
Round 2 — No. 62
Round 3 — No. 94
Round 3 — No. 103 (compensatory)
Round 4 — No. 135
Round 7 — No. 233 (from Minnesota in the trade for Mike Hughes)
Round 7 — No. 243 (from New England in the trade parting with Yasir Durant)
Round 7 — No. 251
Round 7 — No. 259 (compensatory)
Then Ron Kopp contributed a film review of the team’s newest player.
Reid has the speed, change of direction and football IQ to play wherever the Chiefs want to play him — but that doesn’t mean he should be used to the high level of variety that Mathieu was.
Reid will give the Chiefs a capable starter at either of the two traditional starting safety positions and should be a crucial part of defending the deep passing game that has become even more important, with Russell Wilson now quarterbacking for the Denver Broncos.
He shouldn’t be boxed into a specific role, but he also needs to be utilized intelligently; he is not the same type of man-coverage defender Mathieu could be from the slot or just in general. Overall, Reid has the characteristics of a starter that will rarely give fans reason to complain about his play.
And the man himself was interviewed by a Houston television station.
Reid revealed to Berman that he was specifically seeking a three-year contract, so he could hit the market again before the age of 30. He got that from the Chiefs — and with it being his second NFL contract (and his first as a free agent), it meant generational wealth.
“No decision is ever easy, but I tell you what, it’s a good problem to have whenever you’re making decisions with life-changing money that was being put on the table,” said Reid. “When the details got worked out, it was a very easy, ’Yes.’ I’m so excited to get down there, start getting involved with the community, learning the football playbook and doing my part to make an impact and help the Chiefs win another Super Bowl.”
“I don’t know if it’s hit me all the way yet. It’s definitely a good feeling,” he added. “There’s a lot of blood, sweat, tears and hard work that’s gone into making this moment possible. It does feel really good, but the work is not done yet. In fact, the work has just started. I’ve got to go earn every penny of that, making it well worth the Hunt family’s while to come in and pick me up.”
On Monday, we had learned that the Chiefs had restructured defensive end Frank Clark’s deal — but the precise structure of the deal wasn't available until late in the week. John Dixon dug into the details.
For 2022, Clark’s base salary drops from $19 million to just $3.725 million. That’s a pay cut of more than $15 million. But Clark can earn a little of that back with a $75,000 bonus for every game he is active — which over the 17 games of the season, could earn him as much as an additional $1.275 million. Clark was active for 12 games in 2021, so just $900,000 of that potential bonus (12 times $75,000) will count against the salary cap as likely-to-be-earned (LTBE) compensation.
To entice Clark to take this deal, the Chiefs did two things: they fully guaranteed his $3.725 million base salary and paid him a signing bonus of $4.55 million.
Therefore, Clark’s 2022 cap hit will be $13.7 million: his $3.725 base salary, half of his new signing bonus ($2.275 million), $5.2 million prorated from the original contract’s $19 million signing bonus, his $900,000 LTBE roster bonus and a $1.6 million charge prorated from the $6.4 million in cap space the Chiefs gained two years ago with Clark’s last contract restructure.
This means that the restructure has cleared $12.6 million in cap space for 2022.
By Friday, the Chiefs had re-signed tight end Jody Fortson and running back Derrick Gore — along with backup quarterback Chad Henne and reserve offensive lineman Andrew Wylie. But the team hadn’t signed another new free-agent player — until a former Pittsburgh Steelers player took to Twitter.
ESPN’s Field Yates had the contract details, which comes in at one year for $10.75 million.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is getting a one-year, $10.75M deal with the Chiefs, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 18, 2022
Smith-Schuster, 25, entered the league as a second-round pick made by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound receiver’s best season was 2018, when he had 111 catches, 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. He was limited to five games last season due to injury — and he had 15 catches for 129 yards in a tough year.
By late Friday afternoon, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo was reporting that the base value of the contract was only around $3 million — with the remaining $7.75 million coming through incentives.