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Very little went right for the Kansas City Chiefs in this game. If you told anyone before the games that the Chiefs wouldn’t even score a touchdown, well, they probably would have scoffed in your face. They went down swinging and didn’t give up on each other, but in the end, it wasn’t enough to pull out a victory.

Credit to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they had a great gameplan on both sides of the ball and executed it to perfection. In the end, they were able to claim a 31-9 victory over Kansas City.

Weekly Awards

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Wire Game Ball: QB Patrick Mahomes
Cheap Harrison Butker Jersey Rookie of the Game: RB Cheap Clyde Edwards-Helaire Jersey
Cheap Casey Wiegmann Jersey Veteran of the Game: LB Cheap Damien Wilson Jersey
Cheap Otis Taylor Jersey Play of the Game: LB Damien Wilson’s second-quarter fourth-and-goal stop.
Wesley Roesch Stat of the Game: 11 penalties for 120 yards.

Quick-hitting analysis

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The start to this game felt pretty even-keeled. Both defenses managed to shut out the opposing offenses the first time around. It looked like it was going to be a fairly tight game, but things quickly spiraled out of control for Kansas City.
The run defense really only looked good at one point during this game and that was the fourth-down goal-line stand. There were numerous runs of double-digit yardage moving the sticks for the Buccaneers. That made things way-too-easy for Tom Brady because the defense really had to key in on the run game. It opened up the play-action passing game and had the Chiefs defense playing on their heels for the majority of the game.
Brady knows how to find a defensive weakness and exploit it better than any quarterback in the game right now. He did that with the Chiefs, moving the sticks three times throwing the ball to Leonard Fournette matched up with Cheap Ben Niemann Jersey in coverage. It has long been the biggest weakness for Kansas City, but few teams have exploited it this season. Brady did.
The offensive line was overmatched basically the entire game. Cheap Patrick Mahomes Jersey made them look better than they were at times, working his way out of pressure on a number of occasions. In the final stat-sheet, they only surrendered 3 sacks, but it probably should have been ten. Really, Shaq Barrett was just defeating the blocks from Cheap Andrew Wylie Jersey and Cheap Mike Remmers Jersey far too quickly. It didn’t allow for Mahomes to scan the field and for the deep and intermediate routes to develop. He was basically on the run immediately after the ball was snapped on every play.
Penalties were a massive problem defensively and as soon as the officials started calling them, the team started playing very tentatively. By the time they seemed to get their mojo back, the Bucs could simply lean on the run game.
The coaching could have been much better in this game for the Chiefs. On defense, they had no answer for Rob Gronkowski and the running back group. On offense, they struggled to get any sort of rhythm going because of the offensive line play. There weren’t many adjustments made and they probably could have gone to a no-huddle offense much sooner.
Mahomes deserves just so much credit for his performance. Box-score watchers will play it off as if he didn’t have a good game, but he was truly remarkable. He did so much to try and will this team to victory, there was just too much adversity to overcome. He was throwing prayers up while being tackled to the ground and nearly making them happen.
How the Chiefs manage to bounce back from this Super Bowl loss in 2021 will tell us a lot about their future. They can rise to the occasion and use this loss to motivate the team to future success or they can continue to spiral. They get to choose how they respond to it.

What’s next?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL offseason is here for the Chiefs. That means it’s general manager Brett Veach’s time to shine. He’ll begin to enact his plans ahead of free agency and the 2021 NFL draft in order to construct the best possible team for next season. After watching Super Bowl LV, I’d suggest he start on the offensive and defensive line.

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With the 237th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs selected Tulane cornerback Thakarius Keyes after trading back into the draft.

The Chiefs gave up their 2021 sixth-round pick to Tennessee Titans for Keyes. It’s clear the front office is fond of players coming from Louisiana.

Arrowhead Report’s Jordan Foote broke down the Chiefs’ unexpected pick.

Cheap Thakarius Keyes Jersey joins the Chiefs organization after a four-year career at Tulane. Only two of those seasons were as a full-time starter, though. At 6’1″, 202 pounds, he has great size for an NFL cornerback. His athletic profile is good, but he needs to develop the rest of his game before he’s ready for a full-time contributor role. This is a developmental pick by the Chiefs, who traded back into the draft for Keyes. This move could pay dividends down the road. Great end-of-the-draft pick to cap off what was a very good series of picks by Brett Veach.

Bill Huber of PackersCentral gave the backstory on the Chiefs’ sixth-pick in the draft

Keyes had one interception and nine breakups as a junior and one interception and four breakups as a senior, giving him two picks and 17 total passes defended in four seasons. According to SIS, he allowed a 46 percent completion rate and two touchdowns for a 68.7 rating. He’s a dreadful tackler, with 13 misses and a missed-tackle rate of 22 percent. Despite the tackling issues, he’ll battle in run defense.

At Laurel (Miss.) High School, he was a basketball standout who didn’t start playing football until his junior year. Because he started football so late, he didn’t receive a single scholarship offer. He planned on going to junior college but, instead, decided to bide his time. Finally, Tulane offered. He’s got 32 5/8-inch arms, tied with Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah for third-longest in the class. “It definitely helps set the line when you can play off a little bit, like a yard off, and be able to reach at any moment and deflect the ball, even when you can’t pick the ball,” he said at the Combine. “It helps a lot when I’m going up in the air to catch the ball, even if I jump early, my arms are so long that I can get a PBU even though I can’t get the pick.”

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For example, Tampa Bay only has 45 players under contract currently. That means their current salary cap space of $18.5 million would go down to $14.54 million, shown by $18.5 million – ($660k * 6). Tampa’s cap space can go lower, as the Bucs could add contracts to their roster that are not the base minimum, but this is a much better snapshot of the Buccaneers’ salary cap as it currently stands than the $18.5 million figure.

In the same vein as the above example, but in reverse, when a team has 51 or more contracts, new contracts added to the roster need to take into account the contract that gets knocked out of the top 51.

Let’s say the Chiefs’ 51st contract is a $660k minimum base salary contract. The Chiefs then decide to re-sign Cheap Byron Pringle Jersey to a one-year/$1 million contract. For salary cap purposes, the Chiefs have not subtracted $1 million from their salary cap space. They actually subtracted $1 million – $660k = $340k. So, in this example, only $340k would be taken away from the Chiefs’ cap space.

Teams operate under this Top 51 contracts rule from the beginning of the league year until the first day of the regular season, and it warps offseason accounting to a huge degree. It is how teams can seemingly fit smaller level re-signings under the salary cap and is something every NFL fan needs to keep in mind.

Now, it is time to put our knowledge of NFL contracts to work.

The Cuts

We’ll be using a salary cap of $185.6 million for this mock offseason, which includes carry-over cap space from 2020. This means the Chiefs start the offseason $23.48 million over the cap.

There will probably be a few cuts to some previously important players.

If the salary cap did not decrease this year, the Chiefs could have gone through this offseason without any additional cuts. However, due to the salary cap falling, it seems unreasonable and financially irresponsible to make all the salary cap space needed just from restructures. Some players will have to go.

One player that will be noticeably absent from the mock offseason is defensive end Cheap Frank Clark Jersey. That is by design. Clark is incredibly difficult to move this offseason.

Cutting Frank Clark would charge $39 million in dead cap space in 2021, costing $13 million in cap space.

Cutting Frank Clark with a June 1 designation would charge $25.4 million against the Chiefs cap and gain $500k in cap space.

Trading Frank Clark would charge $20.4 million in dead cap and gain $5.4 million in salary cap space.

None of these figures are ideal. It is hard to imagine that Clark is not a Chief in 2021. The smartest thing to do with Clark is do nothing, hope he plays better in 2021, and if he doesn’t, then decide his fate next year when the numbers are more favorable for a release. In 2021 though? There is not much to do unless Clark takes a bonafide pay cut.

It is possible to have a functional offseason, even with Clark’s contract on the books as-is, with only a few cuts.

In this mock offseason, the Chiefs only cut two players.

Left tackle Cheap Eric Fisher Jersey is such an obvious cut on the surface that it feels almost destined to happen. Fisher will be coming off a late-season Achilles injury on the wrong side of 30 and is in the last year of his contract. By cutting Fisher, the Chiefs would save $11.3 million after replacing his contract in accordance to the Top 51 rule.

It would not be shocking if the Chiefs and Fisher get some sort of contract resolution sorted out, spreading out Fisher’s cap hit over a year or two so he can stay on the roster, but it feels like a long shot and mistake. A sad end for a player who has been a Chief for a long time, but the NFL is a business. Chiefs cap room: -$12.17 million

In the spirit of “the NFL is a business”, cutting running back Cheap Damien Williams Jersey is also a move that is depressing on the emotional side of the game. Business is business though, and the Chiefs would add $1.5 million in savings, which makes Williams a good mid-level cut to help retain some players at more important positions. Cutting a player like Williams is going to be a common roster move this offseason for other teams as front offices try to claw back some salary cap room from veteran contracts. This is why many in the NFL media are predicting this offseason could be rough for veterans around the league. Chiefs cap room: -$10.55 million

Fisher and Williams are the only two cuts needed to get to a respectable salary cap number at the end of the salary cap creation phase. No, cutting right tackle Cheap Mitchell Schwartz Jersey was not done in this mock offseason. It felt like a more interesting exercise to try and go through an offseason with Schwartz on the roster. His return in 2021 feels truly uncertain, so waiting it out and seeing how the roster ends up with him on the team feels like a believable, likely exercise.

Even with the cuts above, the Chiefs are still over the cap. In order to find the rest of the money needed, more salary cap space will have to be added through restructures.

The Restructures

Restructured contracts are not the end of the world.

Despite the negative aura surrounding restructures, due in large part to the salary cap apocalypses happening in Philadelphia and New Orleans, restructures are an incredibly powerful tool.

There are three players who are likely targets for the Chiefs to restructure.

I wrote about quarterback Cheap Patrick Mahomes Jersey contract last offseason and its unorthodox construction. That unorthodox construction can already help the Chiefs create cap space.

Mahomes’ contract is a bank the Chiefs can borrow from a couple of times over the life of the deal if they wish. Keeping the borrowing to only when it is necessary is the key, but this offseason is a time it is needed.

For this mock offseason, $15 million of Mahomes’ roster bonus in 2021 will be restructured into a signing bonus. The $15 million is spread out over the maximum of five years on his deal and saves $12 million in 2021. Chiefs cap room: $1.344 million

Tight end Cheap Travis Kelce Jersey contract is very strange in hindsight. Kelce will make $13.25 million this year but will only make $7.5 million next year. Kelce also has no guaranteed money in his deal after this season, despite having three years left on the deal. To smooth this contract out and reward an all-time Chief with guaranteed money, Kelce gets a restructure to the tune of $10 million in total restructure money to save $8 million against the 2021 salary cap. Chiefs cap room: $9.344 million

Defensive tackle Cheap Chris Jones Jersey is the last restructure needed to make salary cap room. Jones’ restructuring is a bit scarier due to him only having three years left on his contract, but good savings can be found. It is hard not to imagine that Jones is not in the Chiefs’ future plans, so the restructuring still feels safe. Even if the worst happens and the Chiefs need to cut Jones next offseason, they can still do so, saving $19 million in salary cap while having $6.8 million in dead money. Chiefs cap room: $15.344 million

Summary

At the end of cuts and restructures, the Chiefs are now $15 million under the worst-case salary cap of $180 million. This required only a few cuts and restructures and no major moves outside releasing Eric Fisher.

Looking into the future, the restructures have done very little down the road to the Chiefs’ future caps. In 2022 and 2023, the Chiefs added $8 million per year on Mahomes, Jones, and Kelce’s contracts. After that, it’s only $5 million a year till the end of the five-year period the restructure was spread out over.

This amount of borrowing from the future is entirely sustainable.

There are rumors that the salary cap will explode in 2022 due to the increased revenue share from the CBA, more lucrative TV deals and the return of in-person attendance. Over the Cap estimates the salary cap to be $227 million and other estimates have come in around that number as well. When this happens, will the Chiefs really care about $8 million tied up in three of their best players? No, they will not.

If the Chiefs wish to cut more players and make some more salary cap room, releasing players like Cheap Chad Henne Jersey, Cheap Dorian ODaniel Jersey, and Cheap Anthony Hitchens Jersey (with a June 1 designation) are other plausible options. The savings on these types of moves are minuscule though, and it seems the Chiefs like those three for their roles on the team and believe the savings would not outweigh the cost.

While $15.343 million in salary cap space seems like very little to work with, the Top 51 rule will extend that money further than it seems at first glance. The Chiefs’ offseason will look a lot like last year, as they will make signings and re-signings that seem to defy the math of the salary cap.

In the next part of the mock offseason series, we will attempt to simulate those physics-defying roster moves.