Chiefs Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/24/21

Here are Saturday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: LB Ray Wilborn
  • Placed on active/PUP list: RB Patrick Taylor

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Chiefs Re-Sign Alex Okafor

Free agent edge rusher Alex Okafor has agreed to return to the Chiefs (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Financial terms are not yet known, but it’ll be a one-year deal to bring him back for a third KC season.

Okafor joined the Chiefs prior to the 2019 season, suffering a torn pec after just ten games. He re-upped on another one year deal, notching three sacks a tackle for loss, and ten quarterback hits in eleven games. Unfortunately, he also lost time in 2020 — this time, due to a hamstring issue.

All in all, the ninth-year pro has 30 career sacks, 34 tackles for loss, and 67 QB hits to his credit. His best work came in Year Two, when he notched eight sacks. Since then, he’s been productive, but has yet to revisit that mark.

Okafor isn’t quite a sure thing, due to his injury history, but his new deal probably didn’t cost KC all that much. At last check, the Chiefs had about $8MM in cap room for the coming year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2021 Cap Space For All 32 NFL Teams

There are still plenty of quality free agents left on the board as we look ahead to training camp. Cornerback Steven Nelson, tackle Russell Okung, and longtime Legion of Boom leader Richard Sherman headline the list, along with accomplished edge rushers like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, and Olivier Vernon. That list will only grow larger, of course, as more teams shed veterans to redirect their funds elsewhere.

With that in mind, here’s a look at every NFL team’s cap situation, starting with the league-leading Jaguars:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars — $32.7MM
  2. Denver Broncos — $28.9MM
  3. New York Jets — $28.5MM
  4. Cleveland Browns — $20.6MM
  5. Los Angeles Chargers — $19.9MM
  6. Detroit Lions — $17.9MM
  7. San Francisco 49ers — $17.8MM
  8. Cincinnati Bengals — $17.4MM
  9. Washington Football Team — $16.7MM
  10. Indianapolis Colts— $14.3MM
  11. Carolina Panthers— $14.3MM
  12. Minnesota Vikings — $13.5MM
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers — $13.1MM
  14. New England Patriots — $13.1MM
  15. New Orleans Saints — $11.4MM
  16. Arizona Cardinals — $11.3MM
  17. Buffalo Bills — $10.5MM
  18. Baltimore Ravens — $8.8MM
  19. Atlanta Falcons — $8.6MM
  20. Seattle Seahawks — $8.3MM
  21. Tennessee Titans — $8.3MM
  22. Kansas City Chiefs — $7.9MM
  23. Los Angeles Rams — $7MM
  24. Chicago Bears — $6MM
  25. Dallas Cowboys — $6MM
  26. Miami Dolphins — $5.3MM
  27. Green Bay Packers — $5MM
  28. Houston Texans — $5MM
  29. Las Vegas Raiders — $3.3MM
  30. Philadelphia Eagles — $3.2MM
  31. New York Giants — $2.4MM
  32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — $489K

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Promote Brett Veach To GM

Brett Veach made his way through the coaching and front office ranks before hitting the pinnacle of his career on this date four years ago. On July 10, 2017, the Chiefs promoted the executive to the role of general manager.

Veach undoubtedly had the resume to lead the front office; after a few years as an Eagles coach and scout, he took the role of pro and college personnel analyst in Kansas City before getting promoted to Co-Director of Player Personnel, a position he held for two seasons. While the executive was certainly qualified to be GM, he also needed a bit of luck to get the job in the first place.

For starters, the Chiefs surprised the NFL world when they fired previous GM John Dorsey so late in the offseason. Dorsey had already guided the organization through much of their offseason tasks, including the draft (where they team traded up to select Patrick Mahomes) and extensions (where they handed Eric Berry a sizable pay day). Some pundits second-guessed the organization’s decision to not pivot away from Dorsey earlier in the offseason, especially since his heir apparent, Chris Ballard, had taken the Colts GM gig only months before. Ultimately, it sounds like Dorsey’s inability to effectively communicate and manage his staff (coupled with some questionable salary cap moves) spelled his demise in Kansas City. Rather than waiting another year to make a GM change, the organization decided to make their move at the end of June.

So, Veach took control of a roster that had lost in the Divisional Round in each of the past two seasons (despite averaging 11.5 wins per year during that span). After a 10-win 2017 campaign that saw Kansas City lose in the Wild Card Round, the GM made perhaps the most significant decision of his tenure. The Chiefs traded veteran Alex Smith to Washington, thus making Mahomes the full-time starter.

How has that worked out for the Chiefs? Well, Mahomes’ accolades are well-documented, but the team has also had plenty of on-field success. The team won 12 games and made it to the AFC Championship Game during Mahomes’ first season at the helm, they finally won that elusive Super Bowl during the 2019 campaign, and they made their second-straight Super Bowl appearance in 2020 (where they ultimately lost to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers).

Many fans want to give Mahomes credit for the Chiefs ascension into one of the best teams in football (rightfully so), and many pundits look back at Dorsey’s transactions and give him credit for forming the team’s core (also rightfully so). However, Veach has done a remarkable job of nurturing his roster by re-signing big names, taking shots on embattled or unheralded players, and making shrewd moves in both the draft and free agency. Signing Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year, $42MM deal was one of the GM’s best free agent acquisitions, and he’s also brought in contributors like Sammy Watkins and Bashaud Breeland via free agency, Frank Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah via trade, and Juan Thornhill and L’Jarius Sneed via the draft. The GM has also shown an ability to identify weaknesses and fix them. Kansas City’s offensive line dealt with a long list of issues in 2020, and Veach worked to revamp the unit by signing Joe Thuney to a five-year, $80MM deal and trading for Orlando Brown.

Perhaps most importantly, Veach has made sure that the team’s best players will continue to wear Chiefs uniforms. In 2020 alone, the general manager extended tight end Travis Kelce (four years, $57.3MM), defensive tackle Chris Jones (four years, $80MM), and Mahomes (a massive, unprecedented 10-year deal worth $450MM.

Clearly, the organization has valued what the GM has done. In 2020, the Chiefs gave Veach (along with head coach Andy Reid) a six-year extension.

Sure, you can question whether Veach deserves full credit for the Chiefs’ recent success, and it’s also fair to ask if he lucked his way into his position in the first place. However, plenty of replacements could have just as easily bungled the team’s roster over the past few years. Instead, Veach has helped elevate the team into a perennial contender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs DE Frank Clark Facing Felony Charge

5:16pm: Friday’s felony charge is actually in connection with Clark’s March arrest, not the Uzi incident in June, according to the Kansas City Star’s Herbie Teope. With a subsequent charge potentially coming for the more publicized June arrest, the Pro Bowl defender’s off-field issues are piling up. He will be arraigned July 14. As for Clark’s second 2021 arrest, Teope notes authorities are still investigating that matter.

5:06pm: Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark is now facing a felony charge — possession of an assault weapon — in connection with his June 20 arrest, according to TMZ.

Police arrested Clark during a traffic stop in Los Angeles, when they found an Uzi in an open duffle bag in the vehicle. The 28-year-old pass rusher faces three years in prison and, on the much lighter end of the spectrum, a suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Clark is also a candidate for the Commissioner’s Exempt List (paid leave). The two-time Pro Bowler has claimed the gun did not belong to him but rather a member of his security team.

Clark, however, was also arrested on a gun charge — possession of a concealed firearm — March 13 in L.A. A traffic stop that night led to police finding two loaded firearms — a rifle and a handgun — in the vehicle. That case remains open, Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell reports.

At the least, Clark is facing the prospect of missing a sizable chunk of the 2021 season. The six-year veteran entered the NFL with a significant legal issue in his past. Misdemeanor domestic violence and assault charges led to Michigan dismissing him from the team in 2014. A plea deal led to those charges being reduced to persistent disorderly conduct, and because the incident occurred before Clark entered the NFL, he did not face a suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy.

The Chiefs, who acquired Clark from the Seahawks in April 2019, will certainly be lacking at the edge rusher spot if he is placed on paid leave and/or suspended. He is set to earn $18.5MM in base salary this season and is currently tied to a Chiefs-most $25.8MM cap hit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes Provides Injury Update

After undergoing offseason toe surgery, Patrick Mahomes is confident he’ll be completely healthy by the start of the regular season…if not sooner.

“The toe’s feeling great,” Mahomes said during an appearance on NFL Network (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). “I’m out here playing golf, being able to walk around the course. I’ve been running, cutting, jumping, throwing, doing it all. So I’m just excited to get back to training camp and have another chance to make a run at it and win the Super Bowl this year.”

Mahomes dealt with the toe injury throughout Kansas City’s run to the Super Bowl. He had surgery soon after the season ended, and his recent appearance at Chiefs minicamp indicated that he was on the right track. However, as Patra notes, the quarterback acknowledged last month that he’s still got some rehab in front of him, meaning he’s not completely healthy yet.

The 25-year-old had another standout season in 2020, completing 66.3-percent of his passes for 4,740 yards, 38 touchdowns, and six interceptions, and he added another four touchdowns in the postseason. With a revamped offensive line in front of him, Mahomes will have a better chance of avoiding injury during next year’s postseason run.

“I think the beautiful thing about the NFL is every single year, you start from scratch,” Mahomes said. “You have to come in, you have to put in the work to try to get to the big game and try to win it. And so for us, win or lose that Super Bowl the last two years, we still have that same mentality of we’re going to start from scratch and build and try to find a way to get back to that game.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Patrick Mahomes Signs Massive Extension

On this date last year, Patrick Mahomes became a very, very, very rich man. On July 6, 2020, the former MVP signed a historic 10-year extension with the Chiefs.

The massive deal was worth $477MM, with potential bonuses bumping the contract to a max value of $503MM. The deal marked the first time that an NFL player held the title of “highest-paid player in American sports history.” Mahomes’ $477MM in “guarantee mechanisms” exceeded the 12-year, $426.5MM deal that Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, and the $50.3MM average annual value topped Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard‘s $49MM AAV (part of a four-year, $196MM deal that will begin in 2021).

Worldwide, Mahomes’ contract value only trailed Lionel Messi’s head-spinning four-year deal worth around $674MM. With Messi’s contract recently expiring, the Chiefs QB could soon hold the title for largest contract in all of sports.

From an NFL standpoint, both the $477MM value and $140MM in guaranteed money shattered NFL records. Mahomes’ ~$50MM-per-year price tag was a staggering $10MM increase on Russell Wilson‘s $35MM-AAV deal that previously resided as the NFL salary benchmark. As far as guarantees go, Mahomes’ bests the previous leader — Jared Goff‘s 2019 re-up — by $30MM.

It wasn’t a huge surprise that Mahomes was able to garner such a deal, and it wasn’t a huge surprise that the Chiefs were willing to make such a commitment to the franchise quarterback. After all, few players have managed to accomplish all Mahomes had through their first two seasons as a starter. Fortunately, Mahomes continued to back up the organization’s faith in 2020. The 25-year-old had another standout campaign, completing a career-high 66.3-percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns vs. only six interceptions. Mahomes also guided the Chiefs to their second-straight Super Bowl appearance, where they ultimately lost to the Buccaneers.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve already seen Mahomes work with the Chiefs to save the organization some cash. We learned earlier this offseason that the quarterback had restructured his contract, providing the team with an extra $17MM in cap space by moving much of Mahomes’ $21.7MM roster bonus into a prorated signing bonus. Language in Mahomes’ deal allows the Chiefs to automatically restructure it to create cap space, and since the quarterback is inked through the 2031 season, this surely won’t be the last time we see both sides agree to a reworked deal.

The 10-year deal that was signed one year ago today was practically unprecedented. Considering Mahomes’ standing as the best young QB in the NFL, it will probably be a while before we see another franchise commit half-a-billion dollars to a player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs' Guard Glut Has Andrew Wylie On Bubble

Following Super Bowl LV’s blocking debacle, the Chiefs moved aggressively to bolster their offensive line. In addition to trading for Orlando Brown Jr. to play left tackle, Kansas City signed Joe Thuney to play left guard, added Kyle Long out of retirement and drafted Trey Smith in the sixth round. Longtime Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is also back after his opt-out season, and the team placed an original-round RFA tender on Andrew Wylie and re-signed veteran Mike Remmers.

Though Wylie finished the season as an overmatched right tackle against Shaquil Barrett, he has started 35 games for the Chiefs over the past three years. But the Chiefs’ new guard glut now has the former UDFA on the roster bubble, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. Wylie’s best hope is a backup gig, with Teicher adding that it is Smith who is battling Duvernay-Tardif for the Chiefs’ starting right guard job. A blood clot issue hampered Smith at Tennessee, but he bounced back to earn first-team All-SEC acclaim at guard in 2019 and ’20. Smith’s past medical issue damaged his draft stock, but the Chiefs appear to be considering starting two rookies — Smith and second-round center Creed Humphrey — this season.

Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman Eyeing Breakout Season

Mecole Hardman has been apart of some high-flying offenses, but the 2019 second-round pick still hasn’t cracked 600 receiving yards in a season. With Sammy Watkins now out of the picture, Hardman should be in line for a larger role in 2021, and Nate Taylor of The Athletic opines that the 23-year-old has an opportunity to be the offense’s “breakout player this season.”

Taylor notes that Hardman has already shown a handful of noticeable improvements, including pass-catching consistency and route running. The writer cites a specific play from minicamp where the receiver overcame some excellent defense from cornerback Mike Hughes and corralled a tipped pass for a reception. Hardman’s performance has also led to some praise from his teammates.

“I think he’s hungrier than he’s ever been,” said safety Tyrann Mathieu. “Each and every practice, he’s trying to find me. I know iron sharpens iron, but it seems like every day he wants to see me. I’m grateful that I can get him better. It’s been a pleasure to see him come to work.

“Even when he makes a mistake, he’s not hanging his head. He’s running back to the huddle. You can see it in his eyes that he’s ready to go. A big part of that is him understanding that we’re going to need him. We need him to play big and we expect him to do that.”

Hardman earned a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie thanks to his return numbers, and he saw a bit of a larger offensive role as a sophomore in 2020. The wideout finished this past season with 41 receptions for 560 yards and four scores, but he saw a reduced role in the postseason, hauling in only eight catches for 66 yards in three games.

With Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce still entrenched as Patrick Mahomes‘ top targets, Hardman has an opportunity to slide in at third in the pecking order. The wideout will compete with the likes of Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, and fifth-round rookie Cornell Powell for targets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eric Bieniemy: HC Opportunity Is ‘Going To Happen’ At ‘Right Time’

There was a lot of talk about Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy this offseason, and how he was left without a head coaching opportunity once again. Bieniemy has become a subject of hot debate in recent offseasons, but one man who isn’t sweating over the wait is Bieniemy himself.

The Andy Reid disciple got interview requests from all seven teams with openings this past cycle, but didn’t get one of the jobs yet again. But the Kansas City assistant isn’t getting caught up in the chatter, telling Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports in a recent interview that he’s just fine with how everything has played out.

I am blessed and fortunate to be working with a Hall of Fame head coach. On top of that, the quarterback ain’t bad, either” he declared. That might be an understatement. “And we’ve had a great deal of success since we’ve been here. So I’m not complaining at all. Would I like to be a head coach? Yes I would. But you know what, it’s going to happen, at the right place, with the right people, at the right time.”

It’s a mature, and wise, sentiment from the man in charge of one of the most prolific units in recent league history. He’s still only 51, fairly spry by NFL head coaching standards, and doesn’t need to rush into a bad situation.

“At the end of the day like I always tell folks, I don’t allow anything to dictate my outcome or my future,” Bieniemy said. “So the only thing we can do, alright, is to continue going back to work and to continue chopping wood.”

The couple of frustrating years notwithstanding, Bieniemy seems confident he’ll become the next member of the Reid head coaching tree before too long. He’ll almost certainly be a top candidate on the coaching carousel come next January.