When the Kansas City Chiefs enter free agency in 2022, one of the positions they’ll need to address is cornerback.
Although they’ve had very good play during the second half of the 2021 season from that position, Charvarius Ward, Mike Hughes, and Chris Lammons will all be free agents in 2022. That leaves a hole opposite of L’Jarius Sneed in the defensive secondary.
While it is very possible that the defending AFC champions could re-sign any or all of those players, it’s also possible they could attempt to upgrade at the position by bringing in another Pro Bowl-caliber defender. That’s why ClutchPoints named one ball-hawking cornerback in the AFC as a “perfect addition” for the Chiefs this offseason.
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Chiefs Potential Landing Spot for JC Jackson
ClutchPoints’ Kousha Kangarloo named the three best landing spots for New England Patriots pending free-agent cornerback JC Jackson. One of the teams he named was the Kansas City Chiefs. The other two teams were the San Francisco 49ers, and, of course — the Patriots.
“In the same way Mathieu completely transformed their defensive unit, JC Jackson would elevate the Chiefs even further and prove to be the perfect addition for them,” Kangarloo wrote on February 26. “If the Chiefs want to rev things up a few notches and bring another bonafide superstar into the mix, then making a play for JC Jackson during the 2022 NFL offseason would be a move well worth it for them.”
It’s worth noting that the possibility does exist for New England to use the franchise tag this offseason on Jackson. However, ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss — a media member with close ties to the organization — wrote on February 27 that he believes the odds of the Patriots tagging Jackson were “low”.
Could Chiefs Afford Jackson?
Jackson is coming off a season in which he had 23 passes defended, eight interceptions, and had a 78.9 defensive grade by PFF, which ranks seventh among all NFL cornerbacks. This comes after the 2020 season in which he tallied nine interceptions. So, Jackson has earned himself a payday this offseason based on strong back-to-back season-long performances.
A recently-added page on the OverTheCap website shows the “restructure potential” for each NFL team. The page shows what each team’s cap space would look like for the 2022 season if they restructured all their current contracts by converting “scheduled payments such as base salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses that are prorated equally across the length of the contract, over a maximum of five years,” per the website.
For Kansas City, if they were to do “simple restructures,” they would have $59 million in available cap space. If they were to do “maximum restructures,” they would have $90.1 million in available cap space.
Those numbers don’t exemplify how much money the team will actually free up this offseason to spend. However, it tells us the kind of flexibility the Chiefs have with their current player contracts to move around money, bring in/retain players, and continue to compete for championships moving forward.
Based on his play and the cornerback market, Jackson could garner a contract this offseason that’s worth $13-20 million/year. Because of this, Jackson’s price tag may be a bit too high for the Chiefs to cash in on. Instead, it might make more sense for Kansas City to retain Charvarius Ward and/or Mike Hughes — both of which are free agents this offseason and the latter bringing value on special teams as well — and potentially bring in a more low-profile cornerback from free agency to bolster the depth chart.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu, left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., running backs Darrell Williams, Jerick McKinnon, and Derrick Gore, wide receivers Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson, and defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Derrick Nnadi are also set to hit free agency this offseason as well. So, the team’s available cap space would be better spent elsewhere rather than on a high-profile cornerback.