With the March 16 free agency window looming, the wide receiver market is becoming much clearer for the Kansas City Chiefs.
As of the writing of this, pending free agents Davante Adams, Chris Godwin, and Mike Williams are “prime candidates” to be franchise tagged by their respective teams, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Odell Beckham Jr. is also expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Rams, per Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson. This essentially removes four of the top free-agent wide receivers from the open market and four of Kansas City’s top options at the position to address their receiver room.
While there are still some capable receivers that could help the Chiefs improve their depth chart behind Tyreek Hill, such as Juju Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, and Will Fuller, another name is expected to be thrown into the mix as well pending his release ahead of free agency.
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Cowboys ‘Likely’ to Release WR Amari Cooper
On March 4, Schefter reported that the Dallas Cowboys are “likely’ to cut four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper to save cap space.
“Cowboys are ‘likely’ to release WR Amari Copper by the start of the new league year, per league sources,” Schefter tweeted. “Cooper is due $20 million in fully guaranteed money on the fifth day of the new league year, March 20.”
If Cooper does become a free agent, he will likely have a robust market given his age (27) and the fact that he’s coming off of 1,000-yard receiving efforts during two of the last three seasons. This is why Twitter users are calling for the Chiefs to be part of Cooper’s potential market.
“If/when Amari Cooper is released, he is clearly the best WR available and that’s saying something. Not only that, he is CLEARLY the best fit for the Chiefs. The Chiefs are going to spend money in free agency, and Amari Cooper is where they should be spending it,” one Twitter user wrote.
“I’m sitting next to the #Chiefs camp here at the NFL combine and there is a good bit of chatter about Amari Cooper going on. The Chiefs are an ideal landing spot. They need a reliable 2nd WR, they are a SB contender, and they have the cap space,” another user wrote.
“If you’re ready to play for a world class franchise with a world class Head Coach/QB duo in a world class city with world class BBQ, the Chiefs are your next stop @AmariCooper9,” another user wrote.
Can Chiefs Afford Cooper?
A page on the OverTheCap website 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.
In the case of Cooper, who is expected to be cut from a contract in Dallas that earns him $20 million per year over the entirety of the five-year deal, Kansas City would have to sacrifice quite a bit of its cap space to sign Cooper. Bringing him aboard would require a multi-year deal that would push a significant part of his cap space beyond 2022.
Kansas City is franchise tagging starting left tackle Orlando Brown, which will cost them $16.6 million in 2022 unless they agree on an extension, according to Schefter. Because of this, the team would have to free up quite a bit of cap space to make any more signings, let alone someone like Cooper.
Despite that, Cooper is an option for the Chiefs if he’s cut. Even if he’s cut and another team signs him, it might still benefit Kansas City. Why? Because Cooper will saturate the market, which could cause the Chiefs to get another wide receiver at a cheaper rate than they would have if Cooper wasn’t cut.
Either way, Cooper’s anticipated release is good news for Chiefs Kingdom.