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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
Dawson Knox Jul 23 7:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills rookie tight end Dawson Knox showed some promising potential at spring practices and could be in line for some serious playing time to open the season. Knox was a third round pick by the Bills out of Ole Miss. His path towards playing time this year became a lot more clear when Tyler Kroft broke his foot in May. Knox caught just 15 passes his junior year at Ole Miss in 2018, but averaged an impressive 18.9 yards-per-catch. Kroft opened camp on the PUP list and will likely miss time to start the season. Knox, meanwhile, will be competing with Jason Croom, Lee Smith and fellow rookie Tommy Sweeney for the top tight end spot on the team.

From RotoBaller

Tevin Coleman Jul 23 7:30pm ET

The Athletics Matt Barrows expects San Francisco 49ers running back Tevin Coleman to lead the charge in 2019. Having formerly worked with head coach Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, Colemans incumbent role shouldnt be a surprise after his signing this offseason. The dual-threat Coleman tallied 1,076 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns in 199 touches last season but was a relative disappointment when handed the opportunity to be the lead dog. In San Francisco, hell compete with Jerick McKinnon (knee) returning from a torn ACL and Matt Breida, amongst others for snaps. Based on his history and the personnel, its conceivable Coleman wont work as a typical lead back as each players skillset is optimized. Considering the clogged playing situation, the Niners running backs are fairly bunched in RotoBallers rankings at 29th (Coleman), 32nd (McKinnon) and 40th (Breida).

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Jul 23 7:00pm ET

The Buffalo Bills placed running back Frank Gore on the Non-Football Injury list to start training camp. The injury is considered to be minor and the team doesn't expect him to miss much time. Gore is 36 years old so the last thing you want to hear coupled with his name is the word "injury" at this point as even something minor could really hamper him going forward. With a crowded Bills' backfield led by LeSean McCoy and also including T.J. Yeldon and rookie Devin Singletary, Gore doesn't present much fantasy intrigue at this point.

From RotoBaller

Byron Jones Jul 23 4:20pm ET

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones (hip) and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) were both placed on the Active/PUP list. Neither player is expected to do much if anything during Cowboys training camp, but as of right now both players are fully expected to be ready for Week 1 against the New York Giants. Both are key pieces of the Dallas defense, and Jones is entering his contract year.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Jul 23 4:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick will not need to be placed on the Active/PUP list to begin training camp. Frederick missed all of the 2018 season because of Guillain-Barre Syndrome but is now "ready to go" according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Dallas offensive line took a noticeable step back without Frederick anchoring the middle of it, so his presence should be a boost for the entire Cowboys offense, but especially for running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jul 23 4:10pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (ankle) didn't participate in the team's offseason team activities, but Kelce is expected to be a full go for training camp. Kelce has three-straight 1000 yard receiving seasons to his name and caught 10 touchdowns last year in Kansas City's prolific offense. He's set to be the first tight end off the board in all fantasy drafts this year, and for now it appears that the ankle injury shouldn't factor into any fantasy decisions that you make.

From RotoBaller

Bobby Wagner Jul 23 4:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner is expected to show up for training camp on time Wednesday, July 24, but he may not put himself 'in harm's way' until a contract extension gets done, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Darby Jul 23 4:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Ronald Darby was officially placed on the Active/PUP list. Darby playing in Week 1 still seems like a "legit possibility" according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, but it's far from a sure thing at this point. Darby has looked like a difference maker in the secondary when he's been on the field, his issue has been how rarely he is actually on the field. He's appeared in just 17 games over the past two seasons, and hasn't played since Week 10 last year. He'll be a boost to the Philly defense if he can stay healthy.

From RotoBaller

Travis Kelce Jul 23 3:53pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce (ankle) reported to camp Tuesday, July 23, after he was held out of organized team activities and minicamp following offseason ankle surgery. Kelce is in camp three days early so he can get some extra work in before the rest of the team reports on Friday, July 26.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Jul 23 3:43pm ET

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (knee) wants to play the 2019 season at 218 pounds after playing most of his career around 224 pounds, according to NFL.com's Steve Wyche.

Fantasy Spin: The drop in weight - even though it is only six pounds - figures to be good for his ailing left knee. The narrative about Gurley's career being somewhat in jeopardy appears to be changing a bit as the offseason progresses, as the Rams continue to preach confidence and optimism in Gurley's health. Even though he comes with substantial risk and may be a surprise inactive from time to time, he is shaping up to be an extreme value pick for any owner lucky enough to get him in the second round of fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Kevin King Jul 23 3:13pm ET

Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (shoulder) is expected to be active and healthy to begin training camp, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Darby Jul 23 3:13pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Ronald Darby (knee) is expected to start training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list as he continues to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. However, there is still a 'legit possibility' he will be active Week 1, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Jul 23 2:33pm ET

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson compiled a passer rating of 113.6 against the blitz in 2018 - the third-best mark in the league for a quarterback with at least 50 pass attempts - according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Drew Brees Jul 23 2:33pm ET

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees compiled a passer rating of 120.0 against the blitz in 2018 - the second-best mark in the league for a quarterback with at least 50 pass attempts - according to Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Patrick Mahomes Jul 23 2:23pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes compiled a league-best passer rating of 124.6 - minimum 50 attempts - against the blitz in 2018, per Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

DeShawn Shead Jul 23 1:43pm ET

Free-agent CB DeShawn Shead (Lions) worked out for the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, July 23.

From TheHuddle

Allen Hurns Jul 23 1:43pm ET

Updating previous reports, free-agent WR Allen Hurns (Cowboys) was asked by the Dallas Cowboys to take a $4 million pay cut in 2019 before he declined the offer and was released Tuesday, July 23. Hurns was scheduled to make $6 million in 2019, including a $4 million base salary and $2 million in incentives, but the Cowboys wanted a restructured deal worth $2 million total with Hurns coming back from his fractured fibula/ankle suffered in the postseason.

From TheHuddle

De'Angelo Henderson Jul 23 1:30pm ET

The New York Jets have waived running back De'Angelo Henderson. After adding Le'Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery in the offseason, Henderson was always a long shot to make the team's final roster, so cutting him now allows him time to latch on somewhere else. The problem is that while Henderson was a popular dynasty sleeper pick two years ago, he's now had just 11 total touches through two seasons with two different teams. Henderson doesn't look like a guy who'll be able to earn significant snaps on a team in 2019.

From RotoBaller

Allen Hurns Jul 23 1:10pm ET

The Dallas Cowboys have released wide receiver Allen Hurns, who broke his fibula in a playoff game last season. It's unclear if Hurns was going to be ready to go for the Cowboys when training camp began, but he was expected to play this season. He'll have a chance to latch on somewhere else, but it would be a stretch to expect Hurns to be a fantasy relevant player in 2019. His departure from Dallas might help Tavon Austin see the field more, but Hurns wasn't a threat to compete for snaps with Dallas' top three wideouts.

From RotoBaller

Mark Sanchez Jul 23 1:10pm ET

Despite starting a game for the Washington Redskins in 2018, quarterback Mark Sanchez has retired from the NFL and will move into a broadcasting role with ESPN. While Sanchez was never an elite quarterback, he did lead the Jets on some long playoff runs early in his career. He's likely still rostered in some dynasty leagues, but it's now safe to drop Sanchez in all formats.

From RotoBaller