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NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Offseason | NFL: Offseason

Bummed out Chiefs head into offseason full of optimism

Mon Jan 21 3:43pm ET
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes

New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Eric Berry (29) and inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens (53) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a touchdown pass to running back Damien Williams against New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) during the second half of the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches a play during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs came within a heartbeat of returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 49 years, taking the greatest dynasty in NFL history to overtime in the AFC title game.

Instead, they are stuck with more heartache for an entire offseason.

Yet with All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes under center for the foreseeable future, and a bevy of young talent around him, the Chiefs believe the foundation is set for a run of continued success not unlike what the New England Patriots have accomplished under Tom Brady.

Perhaps their loss to the Pats on Sunday night was merely the start of something special.

''Every team's going to be different year-to-year,'' said Mahomes, who capped his phenomenal first year as the starter with 295 yards passing and three touchdowns against the Patriots.

''We've got a lot of young guys on this team. It hurts. It hurts everybody,'' he said. ''We knew we had opportunities in that game and throughout this season. We put in the work. We know this can be a building block. It could be something that carries us into the future.''

The Chiefs will have some big decisions to make this offseason. Topping the list is whether to extend the rookie contracts of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive tackle Chris Jones, and whether to sign pass rusher Dee Ford to a long-term deal or place the franchise tag on him.

They also need to upgrade a defense that struggled all season, then failed to stop the Patriots in the second half and overtime with a shot at the Super Bowl hanging in the balance.

The Patriots won the coin toss for the extra session and marched right downfield, scoring the winning touchdown and never letting Mahomes and the NFL's best offense get on the field.

Along with that comes the future of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who was masterful early in his tenure in Kansas City but has struggled to piece together a serviceable unit the past couple of years.

And while Chiefs coach Andy Reid has a track record of being loyal to a fault with his staff, it may be time for a new voice to take over that side of the ball.

''I never talk about that here,'' Reid said Monday. ''I go back and look at everything.''

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach will finally have a first-round pick in the draft after the club traded away last year's pick to move up in 2017 and select Mahomes - a move nobody regrets these days. He also has a pair of second-round choices from their trade of cornerback Marcus Peters.

That combined with free agency should provide ample opportunity to upgrade the roster.

All of that lies in the future, though. The feeling of disappointment was still raw Monday for a team that won its third consecutive AFC West championship, its first home playoff game in 25 years and came within a frigid breath of beating New England to win the Lamar Hunt Trophy.

''Right now it's the end,'' Mahomes said, ''but hopefully it's the beginning of a long time.''

CONTRACT PRIORITIES

The Chiefs are projected to have about $32 million in salary cap space, but some of that could be used to ensure Hill, Jones and Ford stay in the fold. The Chiefs are also likely to consider extending Kendall Fuller, their only reliable cornerback this season.

OTHER FREE AGENTS

Defensive end Allen Bailey, wide receiver Chris Conley and center Mitch Morse - who played well when he was healthy - are also due to hit free agency, and there is an argument to be made to keep all of them. Free safety Jordan Lucas was also a bright spot late in the season, but as a restricted free agent the Chiefs should be able to hang onto him.

BERRY'S FUTURE

Chiefs safety Eric Berry only played in three games this season because of a heel issue, including the AFC title game, and could be headed for offseason surgery. He also played just one game last season before tearing his Achilles tendon. He is set to consume $16.5 million of the salary cap next season, but the Chiefs could save more than $9 million by making him a post-June 1 cut.

OTHER AGING STARS

Justin Houston played well when he was healthy, but his salary hit of $21.1 million next season represents more than 10 percent of the Chiefs' cap space. They could get out of the deal with $7.1 million in dead money, but then again, edge rushers are hard to find.

BIGGEST HOLES

Look for the Chiefs to target help in the secondary, whether at cornerback or safety. Or both. They could also use an upgrade at middle linebacker and another run-stuffing body on the defensive line, and depth at running back and wide receiver would be helpful.

Player Notes
Jimmy Garoppolo Feb 18 11:00pm ET

The San Francisco Giants gave the sense that they'd be interested in trading for New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the season ended, and that sense still persists halfway into February. They've had real interest in OBJ for almost a year, but the question is whether the Giants would actually consider trading him after signing him to a big extension last fall. San Fran holds the second and 36th overall picks of this year's draft. The Niners are looking to bolster their receiving corps after Marquise Goodwin failed to live up to expectations as the No. 1 wideout in 2018. The Steelers' Antonio Brown could be a target, too, but he comes with a lot of baggage and the 49ers might prefer Beckham. OBJ is younger and has just as much talent as Brown, and a move to the bay area with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan would make Beckham even more appealing as an elite WR1.

From RotoBaller

Terrance Williams Feb 18 4:40pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys declined the option on wide receiver Terrance Williams for the 2019 season on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent in March, according to sources. Williams, 29, played in just three games in 2018 due to injury and a suspension and had two catches for 18 yards. He was never much of a contributor in Dallas' offense and hasn't scored a touchdown since 2016. Even if Williams latches on with another team, he's unlikely to be on the fantasy radar.

From RotoBaller

Robbie Gould Feb 18 4:00pm ET

The San Francisco 49ers are expected to use the franchise tag on kicker Robbie Gould if they are unable to work out a multi-year contract extension. San Fran hasn't used the tag since 2012 with safety Dashon Goldson. The franchise tag for a kicker is expected to be around $5 million for one season. In the last two years with the Niners, Gould has made 72 of 75 field-goal tries and ranks as the second most accurate kicker in NFL history (87.745 percent) in his 14 years. Levi's Stadium isn't the easiest place to kick due to frequent wind, but Gould has plenty of experience kicking in bad conditions from his days in Chicago. With San Francisco's offense expected to improve with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon back healthy, Gould could be a fantasy sleeper at the position.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Feb 18 2:03pm ET

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. was sought after by the New England Patriots ahead of the last season's trade deadline, according to NBC's Chris Simms, who reported New England was the team 'most aggressively pursuing' Beckham at that point of time.

Fantasy Spin: The Patriots obviously settled on Josh Gordon, but his status is such that Beckham could easily be a target of theirs again in 2019. While Gordon may be able to return again at some point in 2019, New England knows it can't count on him for any length of time. The Patriots' biggest need may be an outside receiver, and the prospect of playing the next two to three years with Tom Brady could be too tantalizing for the team to pass up if they are willing to pay the price to get Beckham.

Josh Rosen Feb 18 12:30pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen was "OK" after being involved in a minor car accident in Los Angeles on Saturday, and no injuries were reported. In one of the worst offenses in football in his rookie year, Rosen looked pretty bad in his 14 games played. He completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,278 yards, 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. His terrible offensive line didn't make it easier on him, and he dealt with a lack of weapons around him. Arizona should look to bolster their playmakers around him this season, but Rosen probably won't improve drastically overnight. Until further notice he'll be a weak QB2 with upside.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Feb 18 9:53am ET

Houston Texans impending free-agent LB Jadeveon Clowney is unlikely to receive a long-term deal, in the opinion of MMQB's Peter King, because he's not the worker bee that some others are on defense. He's likely to receive the franchise tag.

Dontrelle Inman Feb 17 11:03pm ET

Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Dontrelle Inman could be a fit for the Minnesota Vikings, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com, and Barnwell believes Inman's size would add a different element to Minnesota's passing attack.

Muhammad Wilkerson Feb 17 10:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers impending free-agent DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) could receive another 'prove-it deal' to remain with the team, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.

Demaryius Thomas Feb 17 9:50pm ET

Free-agent wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was involved in a car crash near downtown Denver early Saturday, according to Denver police. Thomas' vehicle rolled over after he lost control. He and a male passenger suffered minor injuries and were taken to the hospital, while a female passenger sustained possible serious injuries that weren't life-threatening. The cause of the crash is being investigated, but it doesn't appear that drugs or alcohol played a role. Thomas was released by the Texans last Tuesday after his season ended prematurely due to a torn left Achilles. The 31-year-old had 59 catches for 677 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games with the Broncos and Texans in 2018. He's in danger of missing the start of the regular season and won't have a hot free-agent market for his services. As of now, it's looking like Thomas won't be one to draft in standard-sized leagues in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Rob Gronkowski Feb 17 9:40pm ET

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski remains non-committal about his playing future, but he has shown up to Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks. Gronk might just be receiving treatment for his thigh, but ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss views it as the tight end being in a good place with how the season ended. Gronkowski will be 30 if he plays in 2019, and he remains a big injury risk that looked much slower in 2018. He'd still be a TE1 if he returns for another season, but Gronk is no longer elite at a very weak position.

From RotoBaller

Alex Smith Feb 17 6:53pm ET

Washington Redskins senior vice president of football operations Doug Williams said QB Alex Smith (leg) hopefully will be able to play at some point in 2019.

Fantasy Spin: Smith suffered a serious leg injury and there is still not definite timetable for his return. The Redskins likely will add at least one more quarterback this season, but owners in all fantasy leagues probably should avoid the Redskins quarterback situation next season.

Raheem Mostert Feb 17 6:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers restricted free-agent RB Raheem Mostert likely will receive a tender offer this offseason and could even receive a multi-year extension from the team.

Alfred Morris Feb 17 6:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent Alfred Morris is not expected to re-sign with the 49ers this offseason.

Zay Jones Feb 17 5:03pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Zay Jones has the ability to be a slot receiver and played the position during his college career, in the opinion of BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown.

Fantasy Spin: Jones is coming off a decent season with 652 yards and seven touchdowns. He likely will be a top-three receiver for the Bills next season and could be a late-round option in fantasy leagues.

Dwayne Allen Feb 17 4:13pm ET

New England Patriots impending free-agent TE Dwayne Allen could re-sign with the Patriots this offseason, but he would likely have to accept a pay cut, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Mike Reiss. Several people in the Patriots organization like Allen's professional approach, and he has been around Gillette Stadium over the last few weeks.

Buster Skrine Feb 17 4:03pm ET

New York Jets impending free-agent CB Buster Skrine appears unlikely to re-sign with the Jets this offseason since the team has CB Parry Nickerson ready to replace him at cornerback, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

Steve McLendon Feb 17 4:03pm ET

New York Jets impending free-agent DT Steve McLendon appears unlikely to re-sign with the Jets this offseason, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

Ndamukong Suh Feb 17 3:53pm ET

Los Angeles Rams impending free-agent DE Dante Fowler, DT Ndamukong Suh and S Lamarcus Joyner likely will not receive the franchise tag this offseason, in the opinion of ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Robbie Gould Feb 17 3:43pm ET

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent PK Robbie Gould could be an option for the franchise tag this offseason, in the opinion of ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Jordan Phillips Feb 17 3:33pm ET

Buffalo Bills impending free-agent DT Jordan Phillips said he is having contract talks with the Bills.