The week began with news that the Kansas City Chiefs were working out a former Indianapolis defensive tackle — and before the day was out, he was signed to the team.
Now 26 years old, Stallworth comes in at 6 foot 2 and 305 pounds.
He joined New Orleans as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina in 2018. After two seasons there (and two more with the Colts), he’s appeared in 50 NFL games (starting two), while accumulating 44 tackles (27 solo, six for loss), 4.5 sacks, 14 quarterback hits, a pair of fumble recoveries and a pass defensed.
Stallworth’s agent might have been exaggerating things to say Stallworth was “very productive” as a rotational player during his 2021 season for the Colts — but it was clearly his most productive NFL season. Per Pro-Football-Reference, he collected three sacks, 13 pressures and nine knockdowns on just 36% of the team’s defensive snaps — and didn’t give up a single missed tackle.
Then, Brandon Kiley considered the team’s most pressing needs.
1. Defensive end
Kansas City’s only starting-level defensive end is a player who was — just three months ago — considered by most fans as someone who would be cut during the offseason. That’s... problematic.
The roster currently includes Frank Clark, Mike Danna, Joshua Kaindoh and some players who were signed on reserve/future contracts. That’s obviously not going to do the job. There are some options still remaining in free agency: Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Jerry Hughes, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rasheem Green could each serve as an upgrade from the team’s current options. It’s possible a trade option or two could emerge between now and the draft, but there really haven’t been any reports of players coming available.
This is where things get tricky. The Chiefs can find starters at tackle, safety, cornerback and wide receiver where they are currently slotted to pick. But after the top half of the first round, it’s incredibly difficult to find such a player at defensive end. Those players could eventually develop into impact edge rushers, but only rarely does it happen in Year 1. Finding a difference-making EDGE could very well require a trade-up into the top 15 or 20 picks.
Monday also brought news that Kansas City’s 2022 schedule might be significantly harder than originally thought.
As we laid out in these pages during January, we already knew that based on their opponents’ 2021 won-loss records, Kansas City’s 2022 schedule would be the league’s sixth-most difficult gauntlet. But this new calculation — which is based on DraftKings Sportsbook’s over/under wins for each NFL team this season — gives the Chiefs the league’s hardest schedule.
And as the saying goes... it’s not even close.
In this calculation, the difference between Kansas City’s opponent winning record over the second-place Los Angeles Rams is more than twice as much as that of the Rams over the third-place Las Vegas Raiders — which is itself larger than the difference between any other two adjacent teams. In more comparative terms, the Chiefs’ strength-of-schedule is almost a full standard deviation higher than that of the Rams (in other words, almost a full letter grade). For a strength-of-schedule calculation in a parity-driven league, that’s a lot.
On Tuesday, news came that a long-rumored trade was no longer under consideration.
Perhaps the Chiefs might be interested if Bradberry were a free agent and could name their price, but all indications have been the Giants intend to move the 2020 Pro Bowler, which would include his $13.4 million base salary. New York would then absorb the $11.7 million of dead money remaining on Bradberry’s contract against their 2022 salary cap.
Unfortunately for the Giants, Kansas City does not have much cap space available. We now believe that the team has $14.5 million in cap space, which would leave just $1.2 million for the Chiefs to maneuver through the rest of the offseason.
We have mentioned on these pages that the cost-conscious Chiefs would be more interested in someone like 2019 defensive player of the year Stephone Gilmore, who most recently played half a season for the Carolina Panthers. As Chadiha noted on March 24, Gilmore’s price would need to come down to suit the Chiefs’ plans.
The ESPN draft analyst released his latest mock on Wednesday. Not everyone agreed with his choices for the Chiefs’ two first-round picks — one of which was traded away to move up in the first round.
17. Kansas City Chiefs WR Jameson Williams, Alabama
Williams tore his ACL in the national championship game, and his impact on the Chiefs’ offense wouldn’t come in Week 1. But there isn’t a more explosive wide receiver in the class. He can take the top off the defense and run under any deep ball. Does that sound like a fit for a certain NFL team? Kansas City could feast on a Patrick Mahomes-Williams connection for a long time and keep pace with the AFC West’s other rapidly improving teams.
With the other first-round pick, McShay went with an edge rusher.
30. Kansas City Chiefs OLB Boye Mafe, Minnesota
The Chiefs have to slow down Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr in six of their 17 games, but their pass rush generated just 31 sacks last season (No. 29). Mafe is still developing, but his takeoff is lightning fast, and he has the tools to go from rookie pass-rush specialist to high-level starter off the edge. Mafe had seven sacks last season, and he has a lot of upside.
Then there was some rather unusual news: Kansas City’s head coach frequently takes calls from T.O.
“I talked extensively, time to time, with Andy Reid — who coached me when I was in Philly,” said Owens. “I was blowing his phone up throughout the course of . I’m like, ‘Dude, bring me in. Bring me in. You know what I mean?’”
The 48-year-old Pro Football Hall of Famer played for Reid during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He is now a member of the FCF Zappers of the “Fan Controlled Football League.” For a point of reference, quarterback Johnny Manziel is also a member of the Zappers.
Owens — who last played in the NFL in 2010 — continued, explaining he could have had more of an impact than wide receiver Josh Gordon, from whom the Chiefs eventually moved away in favor of Daurice Fountain during the postseason.
“There was no production [from Gordon],” said Owens. “You look at the last game that they played... they’re in the red zone, just as I had mentioned. Third down, red-zone situation — Patrick Mahomes, he couldn’t find anybody in the red zone. You insert me into that offense, that’s where I just said I would be valuable. You had Tyreek Hill, you got Travis Kelce. You put me on the other side of that formation. Somebody has to commit to one side or the other because at the end of the day, I’m going to get open. I’m going to be a viable option, just as Travis Kelce will be at tight end and Tyreek Hill.
Both Gordon and Fountain are back on the Kansas City roster for 2022. Owens is... not.
After we learned that the Alabama wideout was visiting with the Chiefs, Rocky Magaña sat down to look at his college film.
Pickens comes with his red flags. His on-field issues, coupled with his injury history, make him anything but a surefire thing. In his three years at Georgia, he failed to live up to fans’ lofty expectations for him.
Of all of the top-end talent in this draft, I would say that Pickens is the most volatile from an investment perspective. If you told me that after a few months of working with the Chiefs training staff that Pickens will be stronger and more durable, and goes on to become a perennial All-Pro, then I would say I can see it happening.
But if you also said, he is going to have off-field problems and be injured for 80% of his career and struggled to get his footing and make an impact because of it; I wouldn’t be surprised either.
The potential is there for Pickens to be one of the best wide receivers in football. When you watch him on film, there is no weakness to his game beyond his ability to stay on the field.
Then we learned that the market for Kansas City’s free-agent safety appeared to be trending upward.
Sources: Free agent DB Tyrann Mathieu had a virtual visit with the #Eagles, as Philly has emerged as a prime location for one of the top free agents. The Honey Badger visited the #Saints this week, and now has done a zoom with Philly. His market is heating up.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 7, 2022
As mentioned on these pages earlier this week, the length of time it’s taken for Mathieu to find a suitor has been a bit strange. A few weeks back, Rapoport told Pat McAfee that Mathieu was in no rush — that he would wait for a proper contract.
The All-Pro safety was back in the news on Friday, when the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell published a long (and revealing) interview with him.
Even though he would have preferred a bigger long-term deal, Mathieu might now regret that he didn’t do more to stay with the Chiefs. One of his comments to McDowell would certainly suggest that possibility.
“To be honest,” he told McDowell, “if they would’ve offered me Justin Reid’s deal, obviously I would’ve tried to negotiate, but if that’s where they drew their line in the sand, I probably would’ve took it. I probably would’ve took it. Agents are going to do their thing, but at the end of the day, it’s the player’s decision whether to sign it or not.”
Unfortunately for Mathieu — and perhaps the Chiefs — that’s now water under the bridge. Reid will have to again try to fill the void that Mathieu will be leaving behind. He knows it won’t be easy.
“That’s not something that’s just given or appointed to someone,” admitted the team’s new safety. “That’s something that you earn in the locker room with the guys themselves. So that’s why it’s a big point to me: I want to shake every man’s hand in that locker room, look them in the eye, and know them by their name. In order to receive respect, you first have to give respect.”