Chiefs’ ‘Dream’ Trade Scenario Mimics Former Bill Belichick Tactic

Chiefs "dream" trade scenario mirrors an old Bill Belichick tactic.

Getty A Kansas City Chiefs trade suggestion mirrors an old draft strategy of former New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick.

The Kansas City Chiefs could take a page out of the Bill Belichick playbook in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Throughout the New England Patriots’ heyday under Belichick, the franchise was known for trading out of the first round in the draft — especially when they were picking at No. 31 or 32. On February 20, Bleacher Report writer Kristopher Knox suggested that the Chiefs should try and pull that maneuver in April.

During an article outlining “dream offseason trade scenarios” for every NFL team, Knox urged Kansas City to drop themselves out of round one in order to add draft capital and conserve their budget.

“The Chiefs don’t have many glaring weaknesses, though they’ll need to address impending free agents like Chris Jones, Donovan Smith and L’Jarius Sneed,” Knox stated. “Keeping key players in the fold, though, will likely eat most of Kansas City’s cap space.”

Continuing: “Filling out the depth chart with rookie contracts would help the Chiefs reload on a budget. [And] trading out of the bottom of Round 1 would net Kansas City more opportunities to add rookie deals.”

Knox noted that considering the talent gap from pick No. 32 to anywhere between No. 33 and 40 “shouldn’t be great,” trading down comes with its benefits. At the same time, a franchise with more holes might be looking to jump up to add a specific prospect at the end of round one, while also securing the possibility of a fifth-year option for said draft pick.

“In this scenario, Kansas City could still nab a top talent early on Day 2 while adding an extra potential contributor like Oregon running back Bucky Irving or North Carolina receiver Devontez Walker [with the additional Day 3 draft capital acquired in the trade],” Knox concluded.

Pros of Chiefs Trading Out of Round 1 in NFL Draft

There are two major benefits to this tactic in the modern-day NFL.

One, you’re stockpiling more draft capital and considering general manager Brett Veach’s track record with recent late-round selections, that’s a worthwhile reason for a scouting department like Kansas City’s.

The other is all about the financials. Sure, you sacrifice the fifth-year option in round two, but first-round picks now earn fully guaranteed contracts while high second-round picks generally have a portion of their deal that is not guaranteed.

The lowest first rounder also made about $2.2 million more than the highest second rounder in 2023, and both the cap hits and dead charge numbers are incrementally higher for a first-round selection than Day 2.

For example, below were the contract details for the final pick of round one (pick No. 31 in 2023) and the first two picks of round two last year:

  • Felix Anudike-Uzomah (Chiefs, Pick No. 31, Round 1).
    Contract value: $11.818 million. Guarantees: $11.818 million. Year one cap hit: $2.149 million. Year four dead charge: $3.760 million. Year four savings if cut: $0.
  • Joey Porter Jr. (Pittsburgh Steelers, Pick No. 32, Round 2).
    Contract value: $9.618 million. Guarantees: $8.999 million. Year one cap hit: $1.749 million. Year four dead charge: $2.442 million. Year four savings if cut: $618,478.
  • Will Levis (Tennessee Titans, Pick No. 33, Round 2).
    Contract value: $9.542 million. Guarantees: $8.731 million. Year one cap hit: $1.735 million. Year four dead charge: $2.225 million. Year four savings if cut: $811,205.

As you can see, an early second carries a cap hit under $2 million as a rookie, which could prove useful if KC spends big money to retain Jones and Sneed among others.

NFL Raises Salary Cap at ‘Unprecedented’ Rate

USA Today Patriots Wire contributor Mike Masala once referred to this strategy as “maximizing the potential of the draft” after Belichick utilized it again in 2020. The Chiefs could certainly choose to go this route in 2024, or they could just go after a top target at No. 32 (or higher via trade) after the February 23 salary cap news.

“The NFL announced today that the 2024 Salary Cap will be $255.4 million per club, with an additional $74 million per club payment for player benefits, which includes Performance Based Pay and benefits for retired players,” NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reported on Friday, the 23rd.

Adding: “The unprecedented $30 million increase per club in this year’s Salary Cap is the result of the full repayment of all amounts advanced by the clubs and deferred by the players during the Covid pandemic as well as an extraordinary increase in media revenue for the 2024 season.”

This update helps every NFL franchise but most of all, it should earn big-time free agents more money.

“The winners in the salary cap spike? Everyone. But an especially big win for quality players at premium positions,” ESPN insider Field Yates commented. “Teams have that much more room to reset the market (hello, Justin Jefferson) or pay very good players near the top of the market.”

That could backfire on the Chiefs when it comes to Jones or Sneed, but more cap space could also free up room for the draft. According to uSTADIUM, KC’s current cap number is now up to 27.7 million in available space.