By Acquiring a Top CB, KC Chiefs Would Go Against Their Own Means
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about how the Kansas City Chiefs are doubling down on their cornerback philosophy. Charvarius Ward had just left and signed elsewhere through free agency, and that was even before Mike Hughes did the same. At the time, the position’s outlook looked bleak, and the team had made minimal investments to replace its lost production in the defensive backfield.
That remains the case now, but the Chiefs are linked to a few players who would deviate quite dramatically from what the franchise has done under general manager Brett Veach.
In recent weeks, Kansas City has been in active communication with free agent All-Pro Stephon Gilmore’s camp. The team has also entered into at least exploratory talks with the New York Giants regarding Pro Bowl cornerback James Bradberry. Bradberry Market would stay wide open, and Gilmore is still an option for the Chiefs. Jeremy Fowler from ESPN appeared on the company’s program, sports centerSunday and had the following to say about Gilmore’s situation:
The Kansas City Chiefs did their homework on him; there is interest. Philadelphia Eagles need a starting corner; he is believed to be interested in him in the league with the Eagles. There are other joker teams. The Buffalo Bills, they looked for help for starting cornerbacks. He played there as a rookie; maybe there’s a meeting in the works potentially. But nothing really hot at the moment. He is also like [Tyrann Mathieu]—ready to take his time if necessary.
Veteran players certainly have a lot more time to make decisions, especially if they are among the best players available at their position. Gilmore fits that description and with the 2022 NFL Draft not taking place until the end of April, he still has a few weeks to make a decision before the rookies eliminate some needs from the team. Even after that, the vaunted “second wave” of signings may see some tried and tested players head to their new destinations. Simply put: Gilmore has the time.
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With that time, however, comes the very real fact that eventually a team will have to shell out a decent amount of money for Gilmore’s services. Although not the elite player he once was in his prime, the 31-year-old can still make it to a high level. Projections on his next contract vary, but above the ceiling values it at $13 million APY and spotrac values it at $14.1 million. For reference, Bashaud Breeland’s two one-year contracts in Kansas City were worth a combined maximum of $5 million. Dumping a significant amount of money into an aging free agent cornerback isn’t a typical Chiefs move.
Bradberry, on the other hand, isn’t entirely in control of his situation. The Giants have retreated to a corner cap-wise because their salary situation is in bad shape. They restructured his current deal several times over the span of seven months, contributing to the “kicking in the tin can” theory of ill-conceived deals. (Side note: Patrick Mahomes’ contract isn’t one of them.) New York really needs flexibility, and shipping their star cornerback can give them that. But it takes two to tango.
Are the Chiefs that other team? Maybe, but even sending a seventh-round pick to the Giants would still require Veach to absorb a cap reached in 2022 that exceeds $13 million. This number can be reduced with an expansion, but larger numbers will come into play later. It’s not like Veach to spend a lot of money on a short-term cornerback, and it’s certainly not like him to trade for a player who turns 29 in August, just to extend him several seasons thereafter. That’s not to say acquiring Bradberry would be a bad move, but it’s not characteristic of the Chiefs.
So far, this offseason has been a time of patience and maturation for Veach and the Chiefs. Instead of going on a free agent spending spree, the team was calculated in its moves and even made a major trade that will save money but ultimately shape the future of the franchise. . Over the past few weeks, Veach has shown for all to see that he’s ready to shatter his tendencies. It is not impossible.
In other areas, again, Veach is the same executive. Amid a ton of moving parts and changes over the years, the Chiefs have stuck to their guns when it comes to the cornerback position. Minimal financial and preliminary investments have succeeded in producing many productive players. Going all-in on a high-flying option at this point would no doubt help the team but, again, that’s uncharacteristic of Veach. Maybe he’ll change his ways in his fifth season on the job. At the very least, it would make for an interesting detour on the Chiefs’ route to re-equip on the fly.