Chiefs Rumors

Chiefs Host Dieugot Joseph

  • Free agent offensive tackle Dieugot Joseph is meeting with the Chiefs today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). An undrafted free agent out of Florida International University in 2017, Joseph has spent time with the Bears, Ravens, Vikings, and Jets but has yet to appear in an NFL game.

Dwayne Bowe Announces Retirement

Former Chiefs and Browns wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has signed a one-day contract with Kansas City and retired from the NFL, the club announced today.

“Retirement” can be used loosely in Bowe’s case: he hasn’t played since the 2015 season and NFL clubs weren’t exactly beating down his door to sign him. But the former first-round pick did experience a good deal of success with the Chiefs, topping 1,000 receiving yards three times, leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns (15) in 2010, and making the Pro Bowl that same year. Bowe, now 34, earned those accomplishments with likes of Damon Huard, Tyler Thigpen, and Matt Cassel at quarterback.

After being cut by Kansas City in 2015, Bowe inked a two-year deal with the Browns that contained $9MM in guarantees. That contract turned out to be one of the more apparent free agent blunders in recent memory, as Bowe didn’t record a catch with Cleveland until Week 9 of the 2016 season. He finished the year with only five receptions on 13 targets, and was released the following spring.

PFR extends its best wishes to Bowe and his family as he enters retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/15/19

oday’s minor moves:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

  • Waived/injured: C Connor Hilliard, S Rob Rolle

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

  • Signed: WR Joe Parker

Washington Redskins

Jets Trade LB Darron Lee To Chiefs

Interim general manager/head coach Adam Gase has made his first trade. The Jets are trading linebacker Darron Lee to the Chiefs in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round pick, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

The Jets and Chiefs had been discussing a deal involving Lee for weeks, tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. Former New York general manager Jets GM Mike Maccagnan — who was fired at noon EST today — was reportedly holding out to acquired a fifth-round choice in exchange for Lee, but Gase, who’s taken over personnel authority on an acting basis, executed the swap for a sixth-rounder.

New York replaced Lee in a decisive fashion earlier this offseason, signing free agent linebacker C.J. Mosley to a record-breaking contract which made the ex-Raven the highest-paid off-ball LB in NFL history by a wide margin. Mosley will pair with holdover Avery Williamson as Gang Green’s primary linebackers, leaving Lee — who played on 90% of the Jets’ defensive snaps in the 12 games he played last season — without a starting role.

The Jets further distanced themselves from the 24-year-old Lee by declining his fifth-year option for the 2020 season in advance of the league deadline earlier this month. That option would have paid Lee $9.501MM for his fifth pro NFL campaign, but New York deemed that salary too expensive despite that fact that it would have been guaranteed for injury only.

Despite the low price cost of acquiring him, Lee should have a place in today’s NFL. Pro Football Focus not only graded Lee as the 24th-best linebacker in the league, but assigned him the fourth-highest mark in pass coverage. Additionally, the Jets ranked seventh in the NFL in defensive DVOA against running back receptions, meaning they were extremely effective on a per-play basis against backs in the passing game. That level of play in coverage is beyond valuable, even from the off-ball linebacker position.

While he’s moving on from the Jets and their crowded linebacker depth chart, Lee may have to compete for a clear-cut starting linebacker job on the Chiefs’ roster. Anthony Hitchens played like one of the worst ‘backers in the NFL after inking a five-year, $45MM contract with the Chiefs last offseason, but Kansas City can’t move on from him until 2020 at the earliest. If Hitchens stays in the starting lineup, Lee will be up battle Reggie Ragland (who played roughly 50% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps a season ago) and Dorian O’Daniel (~25%) for work as KC’s second linebacker.

New York will take on roughly $1.326MM in dead money by trading Lee, while the Chiefs are only the hook for Lee’s base salary of ~$1..844MM. For that financial cost and a sixth-round choice, Kansas City will add another defender to a club that’s already seen the addition of Tyrann Mathieu and Alex Okafor in free agency, Frank Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah bytrade, and Juan Thornhill and Khalen Saunders via the draft. Of course, the Chiefs also parted ways with a number of high-profile defensive players, including Dee Ford and Justin Houston, Eric Berry, and Steven Nelson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/14/19

Here are the latest players to agree to terms on their rookie deals:

  • The Chiefs signed the latter of their two second-round picks, safety Juan Thornhill, on Tuesday. Thornhill, who arrived in Kansas City as the No. 63 overall pick out of Virginia, will attempt to move into the starting lineup alongside Tyrann Mathieu as a rookie. Thornhill intercepted 13 passes over his final three seasons with the Cavaliers. The only member of their six-man class left unsigned is third-rounder Khalen Saunders; third-rounders’ deals can be tricky with the current CBA.
  • Four more Seahawks draftees signed their four-year deals Tuesday. Wide receivers Gary Jennings (Round 4) and John Ursua (Round 7) signed. So did sixth-round picks Demarcus Christmas, a defensive tackle out of Florida State, and Travis Homer, Miami-produced running back. Jennings and Ursua, out of West Virginia and Hawaii, respectively, have better odds at contributing this season after Doug Baldwin‘s retirement. Jennings caught 13 touchdown passes last season, while Ursua snagged 16. D.K. Metcalf remains unsigned.
  • Two of the Broncos‘ Day 3 picks — fifth-round outside linebacker Justin Hollins and sixth-round wide receiver Juwann Winfree — became the team’s first 2019 draftees to sign. Hollins, an Oregon product who combined for 11 sacks across his junior and senior seasons, will likely be in good position to see time behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Broncos lost Shaquil Barrett in free agency and are unlikely to bring back Shane Ray. Winfree will join a young Denver receiving corps, which will likely have four first- or second-year cogs.
  • Only one Lions draft choice remains unsigned after sixth-rounder Travis Fulgham agreed to terms. The Old Dominion-produced wideout will vie for a reserve role behind Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola. Third-round safety Will Harris has yet to sign.

Chiefs QB E.J. Manuel Retires

Quarterback E.J. Manuel has retired from the NFL, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Manuel signed with the Chiefs this offseason, but he’ll walk away from the sport instead of continuing down that path. 

Manuel, 29, has not suited up since his 2017 season with the Raiders. Before that, the former first-round pick spent the first four years of his career with the Bills. All in all, Manuel exits the NFL with a lifetime 6-12 record, a 58.1% completion percentage, and 20 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. The Florida State product did not live up to his first-round draft billing, but he made millions playing football at a professional level.

Manuel’s retirement still leaves the Chiefs with six QBs on the offseason roster: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, T.J. Linta, Chase Litton, John Lovett, and Kyle Shurmur.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gunther Cunningham Dead At 72

Former Chiefs head coach and longtime NFL assistant Gunther Cunningham has died at the age of 72. Cunningham, who most recently served as a senior coaching assistant with the Lions, was beloved around the league. 

Gunther Cunningham will forever be remembered as one of the great men of our game,” the Lions said in a statement. “He left a lasting impact on every person who was fortunate enough to work alongside him during his more than 47 years as a coach – including 34 years in the National Football League, the final eight of which were spent here in Detroit. Our organization is truly honored and proud to have been included in his distinguished coaching legacy. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, René, and their entire family.”

Cunningham began his coaching career at the University of Oregon in 1969 and moved to the pro ranks in 1982 with the Lions. In 1995, he got his big break when the Chiefs appointed him as their defensive coordinator. Four years later, he was elevated to the head coaching position, where he went .500 over two years before being fired. Along the way, he also had stops with the Colts, Titans, Chargers, and Raiders.

Years later, Cunningham would return as the Chiefs’ DC and took on the same job with the Lions between 2009-2013.

We here at PFR extend our condolences to Cunningham’s loved ones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Cut WR Sammie Coates

Sammie Coates‘ stint with the Chiefs didn’t last very long. Kansas City is releasing the receiver, a source told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

The Chiefs signed Coates back in February, and he only lasted a few months with his latest team. Coates entered the league as a third round pick of the Steelers back in 2015, and he initially showed some promise in Pittsburgh. In 2016 he started five games, and racked up 435 yards and two touchdowns.

He then got injured and was subsequently buried in Pittsburgh’s deep wide receiver group, so he was traded to the Browns just before the start of the 2017 season. He appeared in 12 games and started one in Cleveland, but ended up catching just six passes for 70 yards in Cleveland’s winless year.

After being released last March he latched on with Houston, and spent most of 2018 with the Texans. He caught only one pass last year, and the fact that he couldn’t stick on a 90-man roster through May isn’t a great sign for his NFL future. His phone won’t be ringing off the hook.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Meet With Ben Watson

Former Saints tight end Ben Watson, who previously said he would retire, will meet with the Patriots on Thursday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Watson isn’t putting all of his eggs into the Patriots’ basket, either – he’s also considering the Chiefs, Bills and, 49ers, according to Schefter. 

Watson is a free agent following the expiration of his one-year, $2MM Saints contract. He played four of the past six seasons with the Saints, who since replaced him with pricey free agent Jared Cook.

Watson played the 2017 season with the Ravens, missing all of 2016 due to injury, and spent the first three years of this decade in Cleveland. Unfortunately, his 2018 season ended a bit early when he missed the NFC championship game due to appendicitis. He caught 35 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

Now, he could return to where it all began. Watson spent the first six years of his career with the Patriots after entering the league as the final first-round pick in the 2004 draft. After Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement, the Pats could certainly use the help, even if Watson doesn’t offer the same upside as the party animal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.