Last season, one trade turned the tide of public opinion, promising no brown bags would litter the sea of red anytime soon. Alex Smith reintroduced the Kansas City Chiefs to the playoff picture, and throughout the 11-5 regular-season campaign, fans' spirits were flying higher than the "Fire Pioli!" banner that orbited Arrowhead one year prior.
Will there be an encore?
Probably not. At least, not one bearing the same brand of instant implications.
That being said, general manager John Dorsey climbed the scouting ranks with the Green Bay Packers, which, like most of its successful counterparts, places a premium on the draft. And as of now, the Chiefs are set to be second-round spectators—a bittersweet byproduct of the Smith trade.
By past standards, Dorsey has an itchy trigger finger when it comes swapping assets (or liabilities, in some cases). Throughout the four years of Scott Pioli's tyrannical reign, Kansas City penned two trades—the infamous Matt Cassel deal being the only headline-grabber—and both unfolded in his first year.
Dorsey crafted three in his debut season with the team and, by all indications, netted the better return in all three instances. Collectively, the Chiefs dealt Javier Arenas, Jon Baldwin and two second-round picks for a Pro Bowl quarterback in Smith, Pro Football Focus' highest-rated fullback in Anthony Sherman and a speedy receiver in A.J. Jenkins, who flashed more potential than Kansas City's former first-rounder.
The Chiefs GM obviously has an eagle eye for talent. With that in mind, what will be the next buzzworthy transaction that lights up local sports sections?
In the wake of Travis Kelce gracing the injured reserve and Anthony Fasano's extended absences, Sean McGrath breached the starting lineup and proved to be a serviceable replacement.
He is a decent blocker with surefire hands, and his best years are still over the horizon. The bearded one reeled in 26 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Furthermore, he dropped only one of his 38 targets.
Considering that Kansas City's depth chart already includes Fasano and Kelce, while the roster also lists promising projects Richard Gordon and Demetrius Harris, the team's slew of depth at the position renders McGrath expendable.
With a $495,000 base salary and no guaranteed (dead) money, the potential move would have a negligible effect on Kansas City's cap space.
For a backup quarterback, Chase Daniel is paid handsomely, to say the least.
The dual-threat playmaker inflated his stock with a 21-of-30 passing performance in Kansas City's regular-season finale. He added 259 all-purpose yards and a touchdown at the expense of San Diego's starting defense.
But the Chiefs are close enough to the cap's glass ceiling to fog it with a heavy breath or two, and moving Daniel could buy them some wiggle room. Plus, Andy Reid will continue grooming Tyler Bray, a player with first-round "arm talent" but undraftable intangibles.
Bray, however, outplayed Daniel last preseason, and progressing under the tutelage of Alex Smith, he should help minimize any off-field concerns.
Trading Daniel would free up $1.4 million in 2014 and $4.8 million in 2015.
Anthony Fasano authored an off-year that was riddled with injuries. He played in just nine regular-season contests and recorded four drops in 32 targets.
However, judging by his past handiwork, the veteran's 2013 campaign was an anomaly. Prior to last year, he had only missed four games throughout his previous seven seasons and registered only one drop over his final two years with Miami.
When healthy, he is a capable pass-catcher and esteemed in-line blocker. However, the Chiefs have two potential starters, Travis Kelce and Sean McGrath, waiting in the wings, and John Dorsey will look to acquire additional picks to partially offset the team's second-round absence.
Assuming that Fasano is released before June 1 and not tagged as a post-June 1 designation, Kansas City would gain $1 million in 2014 cap space, $4.2 million in 2015 and $5 million in 2016.
Potential Suitors: Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Green Bay, New England
I doubt that the Chiefs will allow Dexter McCluster to leave town via free agency. His overall production has increased every season, and he arguably doubled as the NFL's best return man last year. His new average salary will probably fall within the $3-4 million range, but if his agent demands more than that, the Chiefs could let the Pro Bowler walk.
If that hypothetical sees the light of reality, Kansas City will be pressed to replace No. 22 with a reliable slot option, and Jason Avant is nothing if not consistent.
The 30-year-old is a precise route-runner whose gloves become five-fingered magnets with any pass that enters his catch radius. In all likelihood, no active receiver knows the nuances of Andy Reid's offense like Avant, who snatched 50-plus passes in each of his last three seasons under Big Red's tenure.
Philadelphia would absorb a minor $710,000 blow to its cap number, and Kansas City would be left staring at a one-year, $3.3 million contract. If John Dorsey pulled the trigger, though, chances are that the Chiefs would restructure Avant's deal into a two- to three-year, back-loaded agreement.
Throughout the draft process, GMs often reference the NFL's trade-value chart, which you can view at Pro Football Talk. The columns' first batch of numbers signify the overall draft positions, while the corresponding figures assign a point value to said position.
Essentially, it streamlines the task of evaluating last-second proposals on draft day.
If the Chiefs eye the latter of San Francisco's second-round picks (No. 61, which isn't the conditional choice acquired from the Alex Smith trade), the position would hold a value of 292. Combined, Kansas City's third- and first sixth-round pick would equal 175.2 (compensatory picks aside), which leaves a difference of 116.8: a total equivalent to the final non-compensatory pick of the third round.
So, the question then becomes: Would San Francisco (hypothetically) trade the No. 96 pick for Donnie Avery? Considering the team's current makeup, I would lean toward "Yes."
The 49ers desperately need an explosive vertical threat who can consistently gain a clean release at the line, and Avery fits the bill.
From the Chiefs' perspective, that degree of compensation is nothing to scoff at. However, thanks to a record-breaking 98 underclassmen, per CBS Sports, the 2014 draft is brimming with a wealth of mid-round talent. As a result, securing a slot in the second round would offer the opportunity to land Day 1 contributors like Pierre Desir, Davante Adams or Stanley Jean-Baptiste.
In the upcoming season, Avery's departure would fatten the Chiefs' wallet to the extent of $1.4 million, as well as $4.1 million in 2015. That would easily cover the incurring expenses of a late second-round choice.
From now until Week 8, every "potential trades" article, (virtually) regardless of team, will be headlined by Josh Gordon. And on the Sunday following the deadline, odds are that he'll probably suit up in the same drab, Reese's-inspired, Halloween rainbow that is the Cleveland Browns uniform.
But crazier things have transpired, and given how briskly trade winds picked up last season (prior to his breakout performances), Gordon probably doesn't feel too indebted to the organization.
As the ongoing auction unravels, negotiations will be thornier than they appear on the surface. On the heels of 2013, Gordon's game-breaking talent is beyond doubt. However, substance-related drama and, as The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto notes, an "entitlement mentality" have encircled the Pro Bowler's career since his sophomore year of college. If he produces another positive test, he could potentially face a season-long suspension.
So, if you're a GM, how much are you willing to wager?
The framework of this particular proposal would hold Ray Farmer's (Cleveland's newly appointed GM, who has deep-rooted ties to Kansas City) attention hostage. This year's No. 23 pick, alongside a (future) conditional late-round choice with performance-driven incentives, could possibly green-light a trade.
If all went according to Kansas City's plan, the 2014 Chiefs would feature a 22-year-old, top-five receiver, which more than justifies a steep asking price.
If the deal backfires, past demons resurface, and a suspension emerges? The Chiefs traded for the most athletically inclined cheerleader known to man.
If Gordon and the Browns part ways, Cleveland would gain a combined $1.6 million in cap space over the next two seasons. The budding star is set to enter the third year of his rookie contract, which would ultimately cost Kansas City $875,604—a modest salary that John Dorsey would stomach in a heartbeat.
In 2015, Gordon’s services would run up a $1.1 million tab. However, unlike Year 3, teams are allowed to renegotiate and/or extend the deals of players who are entering their fourth season. As a result, the front office could pocket $3.5 million by releasing Dwayne Bowe next offseason, and the Chiefs, with the assurance of a clause-ridden contract, could lock up an explosive No. 1 receiver for the foreseeable future.
All things considered, would the potential reward trump the risks? Maybe. Like every pick in the upcoming draft, enlisting Gordon would be a gamble. But unlike said picks, Cleveland's riveting receiver has at least proved himself.
Depending on which side of the fence you stand on, that's not necessarily an asset, though.
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