Chiefs Rumors

Chiefs’ Eric Bieniemy Turns Down Colorado

Eric Bieniemy won’t be leaving Kansas City. This week, the Chiefs offensive coordinator withdrew his name from consideration, as Mike Klis of 9News tweets

Bieniemy did not formally interview for the job, but the Buffs pursued him hard nonetheless. Klis’ understanding is that Bieniemy was Colorado’s first choice for the job and they kept in contact with him throughout, even while he was on vacation.

Bieniemy has interviewed for a number of NFL head coaching jobs in recent cycles but has yet to come away with any. Colorado presented him with an opportunity to finally run his own show – and return to his alma mater – but he ultimately felt that the Chiefs job was too good to give up. Besides, with another year of electric offense in Kansas City, it feels inevitable that Bieniemy will finally get his big break. Had Bieniemy signed up at Colorado, he likely would have been tied to the school for multiple seasons with a significant buyout for any NFL team hiring him.

Bieniemy has been a Chiefs assistant for the last seven years. This offseason, he interviewed with the Browns, Giants, and Panthers about their head coaching vacancies. Last year, he chatted with the Bucs and Dolphins.

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Latest On Chiefs’ Chris Jones Plans

Patrick Mahomes‘ looming extension overshadows the Chiefs’ other offseason matters, but the team looks to have reached a decision on Chris Jones. Well, to some degree.

The free agent defensive tackle would be one of the top players available on this year’s market, but the Chiefs do not plan to let him get there. If they cannot reach an extension agreement by the end of the window to apply franchise tags (March 10), the defending Super Bowl champions will tag Jones, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

A defensive tackle franchise tag would run the Chiefs approximately $16.3MM. Based on Jones’ per-year asking price, that would be a bargain for Kansas City. Last year, Jones held out in hopes of securing a deal north of $20MM per year. The contract the Chiefs gave Frank Clark after trading for him — five years, $104MM with $63MM guaranteed — represents the most lucrative accord in franchise history. With Jones making his first Pro Bowl a year after setting the NFL record for most consecutive games with a sack, his price point this time around will surely not drop.

That stands to complicate matters for the Chiefs, who will face a difficult task in paying two defensive linemen over $20MM per year and authorizing Mahomes’ record-setting extension. The Chiefs already have two wideouts earning at least $16MM per year, leading to understandable speculation Sammy Watkins will be released to expand on the Chiefs’ $13MM worth of cap space.

Tag-and-trade scenarios for Jones may surface, as the Chiefs were part of tag-and-trade deals for Clark and Dee Ford last year. But Breer expects the standout interior pass rusher to be a Chief next season. Jones, 25, getting to $20MM AAV make him just the second interior defender to hit that mark, joining Aaron Donald. The latter is attached to a $22.5MM-per-year pact, which leads all other inside defenders by more than $5MM annually.

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Eric Bieniemy Planning To Stay With Chiefs

Prior to latching on with Andy Reid when the longtime Eagles coach relocated to Kansas City, Eric Bieniemy was the University of Colorado’s offensive coordinator. And the Colorado alum is squarely on the Buffaloes’ radar for their recently available head coaching gig.

Colorado has made multiple overtures to the Chiefs’ OC about the job Mel Tucker recently vacated when he left after one season to take the Michigan State HC job. However, the Bieniemy-to-Boulder rumors are not expected to produce a move.

The Pac-12 program’s interest in the seven-year Chiefs assistant has not generated much in the way of traction, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com indicating Bieniemy is content where he is — largely because of what will likely come his way in 2021 (video link). Bieniemy is likely on the verge of receiving a chance to be a head coach in 2021, after taking three interviews this offseason. And the Super Bowl ring he is set to receive may well cement yet another Reid OC earning a top NFL job. He spoke about his dream to be an NFL head coach before Super Bowl LIV.

Bieniemy met with the Browns, Giants and Panthers about their vacancies this offseason and interviewed for the Buccaneers’ and Dolphins’ jobs in 2019. Although things change fast in the NFL, Reid’s right-hand man during Patrick Mahomes‘ ascent figures to have a good chance of being one of the NFL’s 32 HCs come 2021. The 2020 season will be Bieniemy’s third as Chiefs OC.

Colorado also has Giants outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema on its radar; the ex-Wisconsin and Arkansas HC will interview for the post. As of now, it does not sound like Bieniemy will take a meeting with his alma mater. The ex-NFL running back played at Colorado from 1987-90 and was part of the Buffs’ 1990 national championship team. Bieniemy, 50, broke into coaching as Colorado’s running backs coach from 2001-02.

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CB Bashaud Breeland Wants To Stay With Chiefs

Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is showing his hand a bit before hitting free agency. The veteran told SiriusXM NFL Radio that he’s “looking forward to being a part of the” Chiefs organization next year.

“It’s been a great journey for me, man. You know what I mean? I’m just enjoying the journey, you know what I mean? And when free agency hits, it hits,” Breeland said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “If I’m back in Kansas City, I’m going to life life to the fullest. If I’m not, I’m gonna live it to the fullest. I’ll cross that bridge when I cross it. But at this point in time, I’m looking forward to being a part of the Kansas City Chiefs.”

Breeland’s 2018 campaign was a bit of a mess. After inking a three-year, $24MM contract ($11MM guaranteed) with the Panthers, his contract was voided due to an infected foot. He had to wait until late September of that season until he finally caught on with the Packers, but he was hampered by a hamstring injury throughout his Green Bay tenure.

The 28-year-old had to settle for a one-year deal with the Chiefs last offseason, and he had a bounce-back season in 2019. He appeared in all 16 regular season games (15 starts) for Kansas City, compiling 48 tackles, eight passes defended, and a pair of interceptions. He also came up big during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win, compiling seven tackles and snagging a pick.

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Colorado Eyeing Eric Bieniemy For HC Vacancy

The University of Colorado is seeking a new head coach, and they’re eyeing an alumni to fill the spot. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the school has reached out to Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy about the vacancy. Earlier today, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that the school was expected to reach out to Bieniemy, even though it was unlikely he’d leave his current gig.

Bieniemy was a standout player during his time at Colorado, earning a consensus All-American nod while also being named a Heisman Trophy finalist. The 1991 second-round pick ended up sticking around the NFL for nine years as a player, serving mostly as a pass-catching backup running back.

Following his playing career, Bieniemy returned to Colorado as their running backs coach. He lated moved on to UCLA before taking the leap to the NFL coaching ranks with the Vikings. In 2011, he joined Colorado again to be their offensive coordinator, and he later joined Andy Reid‘s staff in Kansas City as their RBs coach.

He was promoted to Chiefs OC in 2018 after Matt Nagy took the head coaching job with the Bears. Thanks in part to the promotion (and, obviously, the emergence of Patrick Mahomes), the Chiefs have evolved into one of the top offenses in the entire league.

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DL Mike Pennel Wants To Stay With Chiefs

Chiefs defensive lineman Mike Pennel is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he made it very clear that he wants to return to Kansas City next season.

“I’d definitely like to stay here,” Pennel told Herbie Teope of KansasCity.com. “I know this is the place where I work well with the coaches, I love the fan base, I love the city and my family stays out here.

“I know it’s a business, but I told my agents and I told everybody in the Kansas City Chiefs organization that I’d like to be back.”

It’s not too surprising to hear this sentiment from Pennel. Besides winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs, the organization also helped to revitalize the veteran’s career. Following two underwhelming seasons with the Jets, the lineman signed a two-year deal with the Patriots last offseason. However, he didn’t make it to the regular season with New England, and Pennel still found himself out of work in mid-October.

He signed with the Chiefs half way through the season, and he proceeded to compile 24 tackles and one sack in eight games for the team. He also appeared in each of Kansas City’s three playoff games, starting two of them. Most notably, as Teope points out, the Chiefs run defense improved immensely as the season went on, with Pennel earning some praise for his play.

“Mike’s been huge in regards to the strength to our interior run defense, and playing stout and playing with leverage,” said general manager Brett Veach. “You can never have enough of those bodies, so when you have another guy that is talented as Mike, it’s a big deal.”

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Minor NFL Transactions: 2/11/20

Here are today’s minor moves:

Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

Spagnuolo Wants To Be A Head Coach Again

  • Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo just won another Super Bowl, and he earned a ton of praise for his work with Kansas City’s defense. The unit made major strides from last season after he took over, and it sounds like he hopes to parlay the success into another shot at a head coaching gig. “Oh, certainly,” Spagnuolo told Zach Gelb of CBS Sports Radio when asked if he’d be interested in being a head coach again, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. “Listen, that desire and passion never changes. But I will say this . . . I’m a blessed man to have the job I have. If it’s not in God’s plans, I’m OK with that. But I’ve always kept preparing myself that way. It would be great if it happened, and if not, again, I’m very fortunate to be where I am.” The thought would’ve seemed like a huge reach a year ago, but Spags bounced back in a big way. He first rose to prominence as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, and his success in New York led to him becoming head coach of the Rams. He was fired after going 10-38 in three years as St. Louis’ head coach. He also served as New York’s interim coach for four games in 2017 after Ben McAdoo was fired.

Chiefs Targeting Post-Draft Patrick Mahomes Extension?

After claiming their first Super Bowl championship in 50 years, the Chiefs now have one of modern sports’ most important contracts to complete. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are expected to negotiate a new deal this offseason, although Clark Hunt indicated a new deal is not necessarily a lock for 2020.

The Chiefs and Mahomes are not expected to finalize anything until after the draft, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (video link). This contract will certainly make the reigning Super Bowl MVP the NFL’s highest-paid player, but the 24-year-old superstar is also cognizant of the contract’s impact on the Chiefs’ roster, per Pelissero. Following Super Bowl LIV, Mahomes said he would like to stay in Kansas City for a long time.

Kansas City has some key issues to address, in addition to Mahomes’ market-shifting deal. Chris Jones is a free agent and is a logical candidate for the franchise tag. Travis Kelce has outplayed his $9.4MM-per-year pact and may soon see George Kittle reset the stagnant tight end market. And Sammy Watkins is set to carry an untenable $21MM 2020 cap number.

A new collective bargaining agreement being finalized before the new league year begins in March also represents a key component to the Chiefs’ Mahomes negotiations. Of course, the longer the organization waits, the more the price will rise. Mahomes is set to make just $735K in base salary next season. It seems unlikely the 2018 MVP would return under those terms, even if the Chiefs have him under team control through 2021.

The Eagles and Rams extended their 2016 first-round quarterbacks after their third seasons, though the Cowboys remain in talks with Dak Prescott. Mahomes’ new deal should either approach or surpass $40MM AAV, which would then have a sweeping effect on how future quarterback negotiations unfold and reshape how future Chiefs rosters are constructed.

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Latest On Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins

The last we heard from Sammy Watkins, the wideout suggested that he could take a year off if the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Well, following Kansas City’s victory, the wideout is walking back on his comments. Watkins told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of SiriusXM that he intends to play in 2020 (Twitter link). The receiver said that he could miss part of OTAs “for his mental health and to spend time with his young family.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs want to retain Watkins, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). However, the team may have to overcome some financial hurdles to keep him around. The veteran is set to earn a hefty $14MM next season, and he’s attached to a $21MM cap hit. With Kansas City eyeing only around $16MM in cap space, it seems inevitable that the organization will approach Watkins about a pay cut. Fortunately for the Chiefs, it sounds like the receiver is receptive to the idea.

Watkins has been a reliable target for Patrick Mahomes during his two seasons in Kansas City. While he hasn’t come close to matching his 1,000-yard performance from 2015, he’s had at least 40 receptions, 500 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in both 2018 and 2019. Watkins has been especially productive in the postseason, where he’s averaged 92.8 receiving yards in his five games with Kansas City. That includes his five-catch, 98-yard performance against the 49ers on Sunday.

The Chiefs will also have a decision to make on impending free agent Chris Jones. The defensive lineman was named a Pro Bowler this past season after compiling nine sacks, and he had a standout performance during the Super Bowl. Pelissero notes that while the Chiefs would prefer to extend the 25-year-old, they’d also consider slapping him with the franchise tag.

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