2017 Free Agency Preview: Kansas City Chiefs
Top free agent targets for the Kansas City Chiefs, players that must be re-signed, team cap space, and more to get you ready for 2017 free agency.
2017 Free Agency Preview: Kansas City Chiefs
[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 28, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]
What you need to know
After winning their first AFC West title since 2010, the Chiefs head into the offseason with relatively little in the way of cap space. On the bright side, Kansas City had only two 2016 regulars slated to be unrestricted free agents this offseason, and were able to secure the services of star safety Eric Berry for the next six years while extending the contract of the improving Laurant Duvernay-Tardif at guard. This leaves the Chiefs with little in the way of offseason needs, as Kansas City has braced itself in recent offseasons for the eventual loss of nose tackle Dontari Poe by drafting PFF College favorite Chris Jones and re-signing veterans Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard.
Salary cap room
- Inside linebacker
- Running back
Notable free agents
- Dontari Poe, DI, 55.8
- Josh Mauga, LB, DNP in 2016
Josh Mauga, LB
While many with clamor for Poe, the Chiefs’ lack of cap room and more-pressing needs at other positions make getting into a bidding war with others over his services a bit foolhardy. While Mauga missed last season, he played 1,555 snaps in the middle of the Kansas City’s defense from 2014–15, grading positively in the last six games of 2015, while allowing just a 54.9 passer rating into his coverage that entire season. With future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Johnson coming off his second Achilles tear in three seasons, having Mauga return will serve as a good insurance policy in the event that Ramik Wilson, Just March-Lillard and Terrance Smith are not up for the task.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills, 73.2
Much like with Sean Smith in 2013, the Chiefs would be wise to take a look at a cornerback with good size (6-foot-0) and extensive experience (4,407 career snaps) coming off of his first contract. Like Smith early in his career, Gilmore has struggled a bit at times, but he has experience in the type of press-man coverage that the Chiefs regularly employ. His ball-hawking nature (eight interceptions and 18 pass breakups the last two years) would fit nicely in an opportunistic unit that forced a turnover on a league-high 15.7 percent of drives a season ago.
Top 2017 free agency prospects
Danny Woodhead, HB, Los Angeles Chargers, 55.0
While Spencer Ware has been a good running back the past two seasons, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 3.1 yards per carry after contact, the combination of Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Knile Davis have had difficulty staying healthy and/or being effective as complementary backs during that time. With Charles set to be released, a back who could spell Ware effectively would be a great addition to a Chiefs offense that has built a nice stable of receivers and tight ends to help Alex Smith since he became their starter in 2013. Woodhead is coming off a season-ending injury, but was a top-10 player at the position in yards per route run (1.91) in 2015, and would likely be a cheap offseason acquisition for the cap-strapped Chiefs.
D.J. Swearinger, S, Arizona Cardinals, 86.1
The former second-round pick of the Houston Texans has taken some time getting his career off the ground. In 2016, however, he played extremely well in 838 snaps, pressuring the quarterback (six hurries), making tackles in the open field (23 stops) and covering receivers and tight ends (three interceptions and four pass breakups on 22 passes into his coverage). Even if the Chiefs retain Berry, the Chiefs play a lot of three-safety dime packages, and adding Swearinger would serve as an upgrade over Daniel Sorenson, a restricted free agent who is more of a special-teams ace than a solid defensive back.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Cincinnati Bengals
Kirkpatrick has had difficulty for much of his career in Cincinnati, generating one of the worst pass-coverage grades among cornerbacks in 2015—in large part due to finishing second at the position in penalties and missed tackles allowed. He improved in 2016, surrendering just a 68.9 passer rating into his coverage, and would likely be a better fit in Kansas City’s press-man coverage scheme than he was in Cincinnati’s defense, possessing the length (6-foot-2) that was vacant a season ago with the departure of Sean Smith.
2017 NFL Team Free Agency Previews
|NFC East||Dallas Cowboys|
|NFC East||New York Giants|
|NFC East||Philadelphia Eagles|
|NFC East||Washington Redskins|
|AFC East||Buffalo Bills|
|AFC East||Miami Dolphins|
|AFC East||New England Patriots|
|AFC East||New York Jets|
|NFC West||Arizona Cardinals|
|NFC West||Los Angeles Rams|
|NFC West||San Francisco 49ers|
|NFC West||Seattle Seahawks|
|AFC West||Denver Broncos|
|AFC West||Kansas City Chiefs|
|AFC West||Los Angeles Chargers|
|AFC West||Oakland Raiders|
|NFC North||Chicago Bears|
|NFC North||Detroit Lions|
|NFC North||Green Bay Packers|
|NFC North||Minnesota Vikings|
|AFC North||Baltimore Ravens|
|AFC North||Cincinnati Bengals|
|AFC North||Cleveland Browns|
|AFC North||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC South||Atlanta Falcons|
|NFC South||Carolina Panthers|
|NFC South||New Orleans Saints|
|NFC South||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|AFC South||Houston Texans|
|AFC South||Indianapolis Colts|
|AFC South||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|AFC South||Tennessee Titans|