Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey, in preparation for the 2015 season, made a flurry of moves to create cap room and, hopefully, to improve the Chiefs roster. Entering free agency with very little cap space, Dorsey has re-signed ILB Josh Mauga and released DL Vance Walker and LB Joe Mays, released wide receivers Donnie Avery and AJ Jenkins, and tight end Anthony Fasano to create cap space. He placed tags on restricted free agent wide receiver Junior Hemingway and outside linebacker Dezman Moses.
Business really heated up Sunday night when it reported that the Chiefs were expected to sign former Missouri Tiger wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, bringing him back to his home state followed by the announcement that outside linebacker Tamba Hali restructuring his contract to give the Chiefs an additional $3 million of cap space.
Here’s what he had to say in an open letter to Chiefs fans:
While Hali’s restructure reduces his 2015 cap number from $9 million to $6 million in the final season of a five-year, $60 million contract, according to former agent and cap expert Joel Corry, he can earn back his $3 million through sack incentives. Hali can make $1 million for reaching milestones of eight, 10 and 12 sacks in 2015.
Maclin was expected to return to Philly, but turned to Kansas City, his Plan B.
“In the back of my mind, it was either I was going to stay in Philadelphia or go to Kansas City,” Maclin said. “Kansas City made more sense. Coach Reid and a lot of the guys I had a chance to build relationships with in Philadelphia are here. It felt like home. It is home. I’m excited about that.”
Andy Reid drafted Maclin when he was back in Philly in 2009. As an Eagle Maclin recorded 329 catches, 4,541 yards, and 35 touchdowns in five years with the Eagles. He tore his ACL during training camp in 2013, and last year signed a one-year deal in the offseason, betting on himself to have an excellent year. Despite playing with two average Quarterbacks in Nick Foles and Mark Shancez, Maclin caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, all career highs (compared to the Chiefs combined WR effort of 1,588 yards and ZERO TD…WELP)
Maclin, who’s hands, speed, and route running ability could make him the the best Chiefs receiver in years, will make $55 million over five seasons, with $22.5 million guaranteed.
“It was a rare situation to have a 26-year old familiar with the offense available,” Dorsey added.
His deal with the Chiefs includes a 1.2 million dollar signing bonus, a $750,000 2015 base salary, and a $9.75 million 2016 base salary. His 2015-2019 cap numbers are $3.4 million, $12.4 million, $12.4 million, $13.4 million and $13.4 million. He also has annual $250,000 workout bonuses. With a projected $67 million in cap space next year, it was an excellent move by Dorsey to backload the contract.
The Chiefs get a wide receiver who can make all the catches, run solid routes, and stretch the field with his vertical speed but also turn a short pass into a long one and he excels as the WR screen or catching a ball at the line of scrimmage and churning out yards. I don’t think he’ll see as many big shots in KC as he did last year, but I expect Andy Reid to use him on as many screens and crossers as possible. Alex Smith is the best Quarterback he has had since Donovan McNabb, and Maclin is the best wide receiver Smith has had in his entire career.
“Alex Smith is a very intelligent quarterback who can beat you with his arm and with his feet,” Maclin said. “Once we built that chemistry I think we can have a very good career together.”
Also helping Maclin is his familiarity with Andy Reid’s west coast offense, which will shorten the learning curve and allow Maclin to make a bigger impact sooner. Maclin cannot only play outside, but in the slot, which only adds to the Reid can have with him.
“He can do it all,” Reid said. “Maclin scoring touchdowns will be a beautiful thing.”
Maclin’s presence also opens up the door for Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles. The 2014 Chiefs did not have a receiver of this caliber on the roster, which allowed teams to stack the box and focus on Kelce, which hampered their production. With Maclin on the outside, teams must respect his presence and his vertical speed, which will allow Kelce open space downfield and lighten the boxes for Charles.
“I think we’re going to be pretty good offensively,” Maclin added.
The Kansas City Chiefs need more offensive production if they are to compete for a tile in 2015 and beyond, and with the signing of Jeremy Maclin, it appears that John Dorsey is working eagerly towards that goal.
Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel welcomed Maclin home:
In a smaller move, the Chiefs have signed former Raiders safety Tyvon Branch to a one-year deal. Branch has spent his entire seven-year career with AFC West rival Oakland, making 461 tackles, eight sacks and four interceptions. While he has played in just five games over the past two years thanks to injury, he is solid when healthy and could replace free agent Ron Parker, who has many suitors this year.
It used to be that players would rarely – if ever – suit up for a former rival, but just as Branch is doing, so will center Rodney Hudson is going to Oakland in a five-year, $44.5 million deal.
The loss of Hudson, who should have been a Pro Bowler in 2014, is a huge loss for the Chiefs, as he was clearly the best offensive lineman on the team. But, that’s a lot of money for a center, and something the Chiefs simply couldn’t – and nor should they – match.
Defensive tackle Mike Devito, who like Derrick Johnson, went down in the season opener with an achilles injury, joined Hali in taking a paycut to stay with the Chiefs. DeVito’s new deal reduced his 2015 cap number from $5.4 million to $2.9 million.Dorsey’s job is not done, with major holes along the entire offensive line and needs at inside linebacker and safety. We don’t know if Eric Kush can be a viable starting center, if Zach Fulton will improve in 2015, or if Jeff Allen will rebound after missing all of 2014. With Johnson’s age and health, it may be time to find the future at inside linebacker. If Parker leaves, they will have Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch as the only viable safeties. Sanders Commings has missed the last two years to injury, and Berry might be placed on the NFI list.
Expect these positions to be filled through free agency and the draft. Dorsey has made some excellent moves in 2015, but March isn’t even over. Expect more moves to be made by Dorsey as he seeks to make the Chiefs a Super Bowl-caliber team.
Dorsey made his first step at TRYING to improve the offensive line as they are set to sign Paul Fanaika – a 6-5, 327-pound guard – to a 3-year deal later today. He started 30 games the last two seasons for Arizona and has ties to Andy Reid as he was drafted in the seventh round out of Arizona State to Philadelphia in 2009.
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