Kansas City Chiefs Rumors & News

Chiefs Could Part Ways With Alex Smith?

Alex Smith has averaged nearly 11 wins per season during his four-year run with the Chiefs, but that won’t stop Kansas City from exploring other quarterback options this offseason, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who notes a “growing sense” among NFL executives that the Chiefs could move on from Smith. However, Kansas City will likely only part ways Smith if it’s able to acquire another signal-caller such as the Cowboys’ Tony Romo or the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo, per Cole.Alex Smith

[RELATED: Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option]

Smith’s potential ouster has been a topic of conversation before, as has possible mutual interest between the Chiefs and Romo. A prospective Kansas City acquisition of Garoppolo, however, has not, although the New England signal-caller figures to be a desirable item in the coming weeks, as the Browns, Bears, and 49ers are all expected to make a push for Garoppolo (and have more attractive draft picks to offer).

A “strong feeling” exists within league circles that the Chiefs have plateaued with Smith, but Kansas City won’t acquire Romo — or presumably, Garoppolo — without cutting ties with Smith first. While the Chiefs could look to trade Smith to a quarterback-needy club, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported earlier this month that Kansas City would likely release Smith if they landed Romo. The Chiefs would save $9.7MM by cutting Smith, or $13.3MM by designating him as a post-June 1 release.

Since being acquired prior to the 2013 campaign, Smith has averaged 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions per season while completing 64.5% of his passes for the Chiefs. Smith, 32, has led Kansas City to three postseason appearances during that span, but the Chiefs have never advanced past the Divisional Round.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

OL Geoff Schwartz Announces Retirement

Longtime NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz announced his retirement today, writing on SB Nation today that he’s decided to hang up his cleats.Geoff Schwartz (vertical)

Schwartz, 30, spent last summer on the Lions’ offseason roster after signing a one-year, minimum salary benefit deal with Detroit. Expected to serve as a reserve at several positions along the line, Schwartz was waived at the end of August. As he writes in his retirement piece, Schwartz fully expected to land another contract after parting ways with the Lions, but after weeks passed with no contact from interested clubs, Schwartz realized his career was likely over.

Nevertheless, Schwartz’s seven-year NFL run can’t be considered anything other than a success, especially given that Schwartz entered the league as seventh-round pick and suffered a devastating hip injury soon after becoming an established starter. After bouncing around with the Panthers and Vikings, Schwartz played his best ball with the Chiefs in 2013, grading as one of the best guards in the NFL.

After parlaying his seven-game starter stint in Kansas City into a four-year deal with the Giants, Schwartz dealt with injury once again, managing to play in only 13 games over two seasons thanks to ankle, toe, and leg issues. Having struggled to stay on the field, Schwartz was released by New York last February.

Schwartz has already begun his post-NFL career in media: not only does he pen excellent pieces at SB Nation, but he’s co-authored a book with his brother, Chiefs offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz. For offensive line junkies, Schwartz’s Twitter account is a must-follow, as is his podcast.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Will Chiefs Re-Sign Eric Berry, Dontari Poe?

Two defenders responsible for helping the Chiefs revitalize their operation in the mid-2010s are now two of the NFL’s most impactful free agents-to-be, and the major question involving Kansas City’s offseason will be if the team can retain both Eric Berry and Dontari Poe.

Each resides either at or near the top of his respective positional hierarchy as far as 2017 UFAs go, and the Chiefs do not stand to possess much in terms of cap space. While the team is expected to pass on Nick Foles‘ option to free up $6.75MM and will likely move on from Jamaal Charles ($6.19MM saved), the prospect of retaining both Berry and Poe will still be daunting.

Berry, of course, played the 2016 season on the franchise tag after the sides couldn’t come close to an agreement last July. The safety delivered maybe his best year, operating as a full-time defender throughout a season for the first time since 2013, and earned first-team All-Pro honors for the third time. Among active safeties, only Earl Thomas has achieved that status as often as Berry.

The safety landscape has also changed since Berry and the Chiefs were last at the bargaining table, with Tyrann Mathieu resetting the market with an extension that pays him $12.5MM annually. So, this could be a complex negotiation, especially considering the 28-year-old safety vowed he won’t play another season on a tag. Nevertheless, PFR’s Zach Links pegs Berry as a strong candidate to be tagged again.

Despite entering his eighth season, Berry has not signed a veteran contract. He played on an old-CBA rookie deal from 2010-15, and after making a triumphant cancer conquest en route to 2015 comeback player of the year acclaim, the Chiefs used the franchise tag to retain him for $10.806MM. Another tag, even as a means to an extension, would cost Kansas City $12.967MM and limit the team regarding Poe or the pursuit of higher-end outside free agents. John Dorsey confirmed the team is discussing re-ups for both players, but Berry’s agent pumped the brakes on Dorsey’s notion the talks are progressing positively. Dorsey’s signed numerous players to extensions, including several drafted by previous regimes, which Berry and Poe were. But being set for the last full season of his 20s, Berry figures to drive hard for a lucrative deal now.

Berry would certainly be the top safety available, while Poe might become the No. 1 defensive tackle on the market. The Panthers plan to use the franchise tag on Kawann Short, and with the Ravens prioritizing a Brandon Williams extension, Poe would induce a nice competition for his services if the Chiefs let the mammoth defender reach free agency. Although he’s a 3-4 nose tackle by trade, it’s likely Poe’s camp will be targeting a deal closer to Fletcher Cox or Marcell Dareus — or at least second-tier 4-3 DTs Michael Brockers ($11MM AAV) or Damon Harrison ($9.25MM AAV) — than traditional 3-4 inside men. A two-time Pro Bowler, Poe will turn 27 before the season begins. While his feelings about the tag aren’t yet known, it’s unlikely he’ll see it as a non-starter the way Berry does. The Chiefs and their largest player weren’t especially close on an extension in 2016. On a fifth-year option last season, Poe made just more than $6MM. A franchise tag would pay the former first-round pick approximately $13.47MM.

Unlike Berry, Poe has not delivered his best work over the past two seasons. A back surgery hampered his 2015 season, and Pro Football Focus graded Poe as its No. 59 interior defender a year later. The Chiefs also may have been planning for a future without their nose guard when they selected Chris Jones in the second round last year. Jones flashed often last season, looking like a long-term starter. Kansas City also has two starting defensive ends — Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard — tethered to the 2017 payroll at $6.16MM and $6.38MM, respectively. So, a Poe accord would stack that unit with veteran salaries and limit the team to some degree at other spots. However, both Bailey and Howard went down with season-ending injuries in 2016, further complicating this equation.

Kansas City stands to possess barely $4MM in cap space before making decisions on Foles and Charles. Due to a run of recent extensions and re-signings, the Chiefs don’t have a lot of other ways to create a quick cash influx. The Chiefs like to backload their deals, a tactic which helped them afford Jeremy Maclin two years ago despite scant cap room. But that strategy will see spikes in some players’ 2017 wages. An offseason featuring a backloaded Berry pact and a Poe tag would leave the team thin in space, and despite the Chiefs not possessing a host of glaring needs, these deals would prevent them from addressing them seriously in free agency.

So, do you see the Chiefs paying to keep both of these players? If so, how will the franchise tag come into play? How much will Berry’s standing as a cornerstone Kansas City athlete and inspirational figure impact his deal? Vote in PFR’s latest poll.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Likely To Decline Nick Foles’ Option

The Chiefs are likely to pass on quarterback Nick Foles‘ option for 2017, sources tell Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Interestingly, Garafolo hears that the option would have paid Foles $6.4MM rather than the $10.4MM figure that was reported by many outlets. Nick Foles (vertical)

Foles will now enter the free agent market at a time when several teams are desperate for answers at quarterback. The veteran may not be an inspiring option, but he could be an affordable placeholder for clubs that are not inspired by this year’s crop of signal callers in free agency or the draft. At minimum, Foles can find a home as an experienced No. 2 QB, but he’ll almost certainly earn less than $6.4MM in 2017.

Last year, Foles appeared in three games and got one start while Alex Smith was banged up. In that limited sample, he completed 65.5% of his passes while throwing three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Foles had his breakout year in 2013 under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia but he has yet to repeat that success. In between the Eagles and Chiefs, Foles spent 2015 with the Rams, a season he’d like to forget.

The Chiefs now have two QBs on the roster in Smith and Tyler Bray. It would not be surprising to see them pursue a more experienced backup QB this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

ZachLinks_2017NFL_FranchiseCand_1080

Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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Chiefs Making Staff Changes

After going with a two-offensive coordinator approach in 2016, the Chiefs will return to a more traditional style next season. The club has announced that Matt Nagy, who co-coordinated with Brad Childress in 2016, will stay on as the sole OC. Childress, meanwhile, will become Kansas City’s assistant head coach.

Brad Childress

Under Nagy and Childress last season, the AFC West-winning Chiefs finished 13th in the NFL in both offensive DVOA and scoring. That was their only year at the helm together, as the Chiefs had promoted the pair last winter to take over for Doug Pederson after he became the Eagles’ head coach.

The 60-year-old Childress is the more established coach than Nagy, 38, and will enter his fifth season with the Chiefs in 2017. Childress potentially could have departed last month to become the Bills’ offensive coordinator, but he took himself out of the running. He’s now in perhaps his most prominent position since he was the head coach of the Vikings, with whom he went 39-35 from 2006-10.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles

Although Jamaal Charles is viewed as a potential release candidate this offseason, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey offered an — admittedly lukewarm — endorsement of the veteran running back when addressing the media yesterday, according to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.Jamaal Charles (Vertical)

[RELATED: Chiefs Discussing Deals With Eric Berry & Dontari Poe]

“Jamaal Charles is one of the finest running backs that’s ever put on a Kansas City Chiefs uniform,” Dorsey said. “What I admire most about Jamaal Charles is right now, at this present, he is working like the dickens to try and get himself ready for the 2017 season. We’ll see what happens in March and April, but right now, I see Jamaal as a Kansas City Chief.”

Charles, 30, is scheduled to count for nearly $6.2MM on Kansas City’s 2017 salary cap, a figure that includes a $3.75MM base salary, $1MM in per-game roster bonuses, a $2MM reporting bonus, and a $250K workout bonus. None of that money is guaranteed however, so as long as the Chiefs cut Charles before his reporting bonus is due, the club could clear out his entire cap charge.

If Kansas City doesn’t think Charles will be a contributor in 2017, it could certainly use that cap space, as the club is currently projected to possess only ~$3.5MM in financial room, the third-least space in the league. In addition to Charles, backup quarterback Nick Foles and his $10.75MM cap figure could be released in order to create space, but otherwise, the Chiefs may have to rely on restructures to free up wiggle room. Indeed, Dorsey hinted that Kansas City might look to rework contracts later this offseason, likely in March, tweets Paylor.

Charles missed most of last season thanks to knee injuries, and has only played in eight games over the past two seasons combined. The Chiefs do have other options at running back in the forms of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, each of whom are signed through the 2018 campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Unlikely To Lose Staffers To Colts

  • Although Chris Ballard left Kansas City to become the Colts‘ new general manager, Chiefs GM John Dorsey doesn’t expect Ballard to poach any KC staffers “right now,” tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Typically, an executive will try to bring at least a few low-level front office employees along to a new job, but it sounds like Ballard will be starting from scratch, and rolling with the incumbent Indianapolis staff for the time being.

Latest On Chiefs’ Talks With Berry, Poe

The Chiefs hold two of the highest-profile pending free agents in Eric Berry and Dontari Poe, but the team is discussing new deals with both defenders, John Dorsey said Thursday (via Dave Skretta of the Associated Press). Dorsey confirmed dialogue’s commenced between the team and the respective camps of Berry and Poe, describing the discussions with the nose tackle’s camp as “good conversations” while elaborating further on Berry.

First off, I think Eric Berry had a fantastic season. Everybody within this organization, the community, has the utmost respect for that guy,” Dorsey said. “We’ve had very positive conversations with his representatives … Hopefully two sides can come together and mesh this thing out.”

Berry’s agent, Chad Speck, confirmed the Chiefs and the the All-Pro safety are talking. But he stopped short of saying the talks are positive, noting (on Twitter) the parties have “a long way to go.” Berry, 28, will enter his eighth season in 2017 and said recently he will not play it on the franchise tag as he did in 2016. It would cost the Chiefs nearly $13MM to franchise Berry again, and that would directly cut into their funding for a Poe re-up.

The Chiefs and Poe could not come to terms on an extension before last season, and word coming out of Kansas City in December indicated a future with Poe on the tag and Berry being signed to a long-term deal. The Dorsey regime is not usually vocal about contract discussions, so little emerging from the sides’ progress is not uncommon. A Poe tag is projected to cost the Chiefs $13.468MM. He has not made it known at this point if the tag is a non-starter like Berry, but that doesn’t seem likely since the $13MM-plus value would more than double his 2016 salary on the fifth-year option. The Chiefs stand to possess less than $4MM in cap space, but the franchise can create more than $17MM more by cutting Nick Foles and Jamaal Charles.

While Berry reaching the market would represent major news, the 26-year-old Poe resides as one of multiple impact 3-4 tackles in this class. Although, the Panthers are likely to place the franchise tag on Kawann Short and the Ravens have been open about their desire to keep Brandon Williams.

[RELATED: Chiefs’ Top 3 Offseason Needs]

Dorsey also attempted to quiet noise about a potential Packers future. He’s signed through 2017, but Skretta notes that is the last year of his Chiefs contract. The team wants to extend he and Andy Reid, also in the final year of his deal, but rumors about a Dorsey return to Green Bay have cropped up at multiple points this offseason.

From my family’s perspective and mine, this has been the greatest four years of my life. I love this city, I love this team, I love this community. I think this is one of the most stable franchises in the NFL,” Dorsey said. “I love coming to work every day. I don’t know what more I can say.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Add Mike Kafka, Rod Wilson To Coaching Staff

  • Former quarterback Mike Kafka has been hired by the Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The 29-year-old spent six years in the NFL after being selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, as he has an obvious connection with current Kansas City (and former Philadelphia) head coach Andy Reid. Kafka spent the 2016 season serving as an offensive graduate assistant with Northwestern, his former college.
  • The Chiefs have also hired Rod Wilson as their new assistant special teams coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter). The former NFL linebacker will be replacing Brock Olivo, who was hired as the Broncos special teams coordinator earlier this offseason. The 2005 seventh-round pick spent six years in the NFL with the Bears, Buccaneers, and Jaguars.

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