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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
Charles Clay Feb 19 12:20pm ET

The Arizona Cardinals are signing free-agent tight end Charles Clay to a one-year deal worth up to $3.25 million on Tuesday, according to a source. The deal includes a $350,000 signing bonus. Clay was an afterthought in Buffalo's offense the last couple years and had only 21 catches for 184 yards and no scores in 13 games last season. He's unlikely to produce much more in Arizona with Ricky Seals-Jones and veteran Jermaine Gresham also in the fold with a young quarterback still learning the speed of the NFL. Clay won't even be worth drafting in most fantasy leagues.

From RotoBaller

Calais Campbell Feb 19 11:50am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars exercised the 2019 options for defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive end Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis. Campbell has been a Pro Bowl selection the last two years with the Jaguars and has accumulated 25 sacks in that time frame. He'll enter his 12th season in 2019 and had a franchise-record 14.5 sacks in 2017. He became the first player in team history to have back-to-back double-digit sacks when he registered 10.5 quarterback takedowns last season. Campbell is a four-time Pro Bowler and is certainly an IDP force.

From RotoBaller

Austin Seferian-Jenkins Feb 19 11:50am ET

The Jacksonville Jaguars declined the 2019 option for tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins on Tuesday, making him a free agent. He started the first five games of the season and caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown before missing the final 11 games with a core muscle injury. His best year came in 2017 with the Jets when he had 50 catches for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Between injuries and off-field issues, teams are unlikely to be knocking the door down to sign ASF this offseason.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Feb 19 3:03am ET

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will not be asked to run a dramatically different offense than the one he has operated for most of his career, according to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. 'When you take a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who is a very good football player, I mean, he's kind of one of those guys where you can kind of pretty much do a lot of everything. I think a lot of it is going to carry over. I think some of the language will be different but it's going to be a lot of the same premises for him,' Hackett told PackersNews.com.

Fantasy Spin: Rodgers is unlikely to be the overall QB1 in drafts this summer following the emergence of Patrick Mahomes, but he'll come off the board shortly thereafter as the QB2 or QB3. It will also be interesting to see how receptive the 35-year-old will be to the schemes of new head coach Matt LaFleur and Hackett, although it's hard to imagine he'll drop off considering how vanilla Mike McCarthy had become with his play-calling in recent years.

Le'Veon Bell Feb 19 12:43am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell is unlikely to receive a franchise or transition tag from the team, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

C.J. Mosley Feb 19 12:33am ET

Impending free-agent LB C.J. Mosley and the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly optimistic they will agree to a long-term contract before the March 5 deadline for franchise tags, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley.

Odell Beckham Jr. Feb 18 11:13pm ET

New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. is believed to be a trade target for the San Francisco 49ers this offseason, according to ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Fantasy Spin: It is not known if Beckham will be available this offseason, but the 49ers likely will look to add a No. 1 receiver during the offseason. Beckham will be a No. 1 fantasy receiver no matter where he plays in 2019.

Earl Thomas Feb 18 11:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks impending free-agent FS Earl Thomas may not be an option for the Dallas Cowboys if he is looking for a lucrative contract this offseason because the team will need to sign DE DeMarcus Lawrence, QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper and CB Byron Jones to long-term contracts over the next year or so, in the opinion of SI.com's Albert Breer.

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

Ezekiel Ansah Feb 18 10:13pm ET

Detroit Lions impending free-agent DE Ziggy Ansah could re-sign with the Lions depending on how he is physically this offseason, according to general manager Bob Quinn.

LeGarrette Blount Feb 18 10:03pm ET

Detroit Lions impending free-agent TE Levine Toilolo, TE Luke Willson, RB LeGarrette Blount and DT Ricky Jean-Francois are all expected to hit the free-agent market this offseason.

Romeo Okwara Feb 18 10:03pm ET

Detroit Lions restricted free-agent DE Romeo Okwara is expected to receive a tender offer this offseason.

Derrius Guice Feb 18 9:33pm ET

Washington Redskins RB Derrius Guice (knee) is able to sprint in a straight line but is still not able to do any lateral movements at full speed yet. He also wants to build the strength in his legs over the next few months.

Fantasy Spin: Guice was the team's starting running back last season but missed most of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He may have to share playing time with Adrian Peterson in 2019 if Peterson re-signs with the team. Guice can be a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy back if he receives most of the playing time.

Robbie Gould Feb 18 8:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers impending free-agent PK Robbie Gould said he is looking to sign at least a three-year contract this offseason.

Frank Gore Feb 18 8:13pm ET

Miami Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville said he is not sure if impending free-agent RB Frank Gore will receive a contract offer from the Dolphins this offseason.

Fantasy Spin: Gore had a solid season in 2018 with 722 yards but failed to record a rushing touchdown. It is not known if he will be able to find a starting job this offseason but would be a good No. 2 running back for a team. He will have some fantasy value in standard leagues if he finds a good situation.

Kalen Ballage Feb 18 7:53pm ET

Miami Dolphins RB Kalen Ballage was impressive during his rookie season but still has room to grow, according to running backs coach Eric Studesville. 'He's a big, physical body,' Studesville said. 'He can run. He's athletic. He's got a lot of growth to do as far as seeing and recognizing things. His work ethic is tremendous. He's got speed for a big man.'

Fantasy Spin: Ballage rushed for 191 yards and one touchdown in limited playing time this past season but could be a contender for the starting running back job in 2019. He has a chance to be a No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy running back depending on his role.

Stephen Gostkowski Feb 18 7:33pm ET

New England Patriots impending free-agent PK Stephen Gostkowski will be a candidate for the franchise tag if the two sides are not able to agree to a long-term extension over the next few weeks.

Trey Flowers Feb 18 7:23pm ET

New England Patriots impending free-agent OT Trent Brown and DE Trey Flowers likely will not be candidates for the franchise tag because it is believed the team probably would think the franchise tag salaries would be too high for the players, in the opinion of ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.

David Irving Feb 18 6:13pm ET

Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent DT David Irving is not expected to be retained, according to a source.

Calais Campbell Feb 18 5:23pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Calais Campbell had his $12 million option for 2019 exercised Monday, Feb. 18. Options for LB Lerentee McCray and FS Cody Davis were also picked up. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins did not have his optioned picked up.