by John Unrein
National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell has given the green light for the league’s 85th annual selection meeting to go on as scheduled for April 23-25 of this month in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Kansas City Chiefs started the week of March 30th exactly $177.00 under the $198.2 million salary cap according to NFL reporter Field Yates. A personnel move in the form of release or trade will likely be occurring by the Chiefs, as they will need money under the cap to sign this year’s draft class.
The Chiefs have been mildly active in the free agent market this offseason. General Manager Brett Veach has indicated an interest in retaining as many players from the Super Bowl LIV (54) roster as possible.
Veach has reached one-year contract agreements with defensive tackle Mike Pennel, fullback Anthony Sherman, and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, all of whom will be returning to Chiefs Kingdom for at least one more season.
Kansas City’s front office has also acquired the services of offensive lineman Mike Remmers and cornerback Antonio Hamilton. Remmers is versatile enough to play tackle or guard along the offensive line, having started 14 games for the New York Giants during the 2019 season.
Hamilton has been a special teams ace for the Giants. Last season witnessed Hamilton earn some playing time at cornerback as well.
All of the Chiefs’ recent signees have come to agreement under the Veteran Salary Benefit of the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Per the league’s website, this provision allows a player with at least four accrued seasons (for any team) to be given a one-year contract, paying them the NFL minimum salary according to their experience, but carrying the cap hit of a player with only two years of experience. The Veteran Salary Benefit also allow these players to be paid signing bonuses of up to $137,500, which count against the cap as they normally would.
Add to the mix Exclusive Rights Chiefs Free Agents (having accrued two years of league service time or less) such as tight end Deon Yelder and offensive lineman Andrew Wylie, and the organization has been able to sign seven players for a total of $8.3 million that only count $6.1 million against the cap according to the National Football League Players Association and Over the Cap website.
Not a shabby few weeks’ worth of work for Veach and his staff since the new league year started on March 18th. The Chiefs organization will now turn its attention to the draft. Goodell and the NFL front office recently highlighted how this year’s draft will be conducted differently in a recent press release statement.
“Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 Draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way. Already, we have cancelled all public events, we will not be bringing prospects and their families to the draft, and the draft itself will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions,” Goodell said.
“Our staff is certainly mindful of the operational issues this presents, and our top priority is putting in place procedures that allow all clubs to operate on a level playing field so that the draft is conducted in a way that is competitively fair to all clubs. All clubs should be doing the necessary planning to conduct draft operations in a location outside of your facility, with a limited number of people present, and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs, and with draft headquarters.”
NFL teams have had to adjust their preparation for the draft due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All NFL player physicals and workouts have been stopped indefinitely for free agents and draft prospects by order of Goodell. Furthermore, all 32 NFL team facilities have been ordered to close until further notice. The draft will proceed as scheduled though and will be televised.
The Chiefs still have holes on their roster to fill via the draft. Cornerback, linebacker, running back, and interior offensive lineman round out the team’s biggest areas of need based on current depth and talent. This list is in flux as the Chiefs could trade defensive tackle Chris Jones who has been tagged as the franchise player by the organization, as well as wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Dr. Laurent Duverney-Tardif is also a potential candidate for release with an $8.9 million 2020 salary cap number after putting in a gutsy subpar performance last season upon returning from a broken leg suffered during his 2018 campaign.
The Chiefs currently have five picks in the upcoming draft. Mock drafts are currently ripe with the Chiefs selecting a variety of players from the listed positions of need. Here’s Grain Valley News mock draft for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Round 1, Pick 32- CB Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn, 5-10, 198
Former wide receiver and track star who excels in bump and run coverage. Often locked up against the best wide receivers in SEC and passed with flying colors. His scrappy demeanor when competing and tackling has drawn praise. Running a 4.4 40-yard dash and having a 37” vertical jump at the combine doesn’t hurt either.
Round 2, Pick 31 (63rd overall, part of the Dee Ford trade with the 49ers)- OL Robert Hunt, LALAF, 6-5, 323
College tackle and four-year starter who moves inside to guard for the Chiefs to provide depth and compete for a starting job. Heavy hands and athleticism displayed at Louisiana Lafayette could translate well at the next level. The Chiefs like turning former college tackles into guards. See Andrew Wylie, Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Martinas Rankin, and Cameron Erving.
Round 3, Pick 32 (96th overall)- RB Zack Moss, Utah, 5-9, 223
Has drawn comparisons to Kareem Hunt coming out of college. Power runner who packs a punch and is tough to bring down. Put up good numbers for the Utes throughout his college career. Solid pass catcher who chose to compete at the combine with a strained hamstring and ran a 4.6 40-yard dash.
Round 4, Pick 32 (138th overall)- CB AJ Green, Oklahoma State, 6-2, 202
Big bodied cornerback who plays physical on the perimeter. Tracks the football well through the air as his six college interceptions attest. Would be selected higher in the draft had he not run a 4.6 40-yard dash. Reminds me of Chiefs free agent cornerback Bashaud Breeland.
Round 5, Pick 32 (177th overall)- DE Derrek Tuszka, North Dakota State, 6-5, 251
Relentless off the edge as a rusher. Uses his hands well to discard blockers. Has the size and length that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo prefers in defensive ends. Provides insurance for the Chiefs if defensive end Alex Okafor does not return completely healthy from a torn pectoral muscle. Could be potential mid-round steal for Chiefs since he played at FCS school.