KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here is this week's edition of the Kansas City Chiefs mailbag. To ask a question for a future edition, send it to me via Twitter (@adamteicher) and tag it #ChiefsMail.

@adamteicher: You're right, some big decisions are ahead for the Chiefs. As for your question, let's assume that Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito will return healthy, as I understand the expectation to be. I think of the three, Johnson is the most important player for the Chiefs. He, like Tamba Hali, plays in all situations, pass or run. DeVito is mainly a run defender. But the Chiefs really missed Johnson last season and have nobody under contract available to take his place. They drafted Ford to be Hali's eventual replacement. But money factors in as well. The cap numbers for 2015: Hali almost $12 million, DeVito $5.4 million, Johnson $5.25 million. Here's how much each would cost the Chiefs if he was released: Johnson $5.25 million, Hali $5 million, DeVito $4 million. So Johnson would also cost the Chiefs less to keep than the others.

@adamteicher: I think they will try. Hali makes a lot of sense for the Chiefs at a lower cap number, and he is willing to take a pay cut. The question is whether they can agree on a number.

@adamteicher: Hali certainly is one and DeVito could be another. Dwayne Bowe is another prime candidate. His cap number is $14 million. The Chiefs would save $5 million against their cap by releasing him but he would still cost them $9 million.

@adamteicher: Eric Berry's cap number is about $8.4 million next season. Included is a base salary of about $5.2 million. I would think a more likely scenario would be a reduction of that salary than a release.

@adamteicher: He'll be 32 in March so Tramon Williams is getting close to the end of his useful career. He still may be able to command a big contract from a team in need of a cornerback. I don't think the Chiefs need one that badly, not enough to give him a big contract. They won't be in any position to outbid other teams for many players.

@adamteicher: Sanders Commings is a Chiefs defensive back who missed almost all of his two NFL seasons with injuries. He was going to play for the Chiefs each season before injuring himself in training camp. If he can stay healthy, he'll get playing time next season. But given his injury history, the Chiefs can't count on him anymore. Anything he gives them is a bonus.

@adamteicher: A good player. The Chiefs could use help on the offensive line and at inside linebacker, among other places. But their roster isn't so good at any position where they should pass on a player who they think can be a good player. If there's a wide receiver available to them in the second round and they think a lot of him, they should draft him even if they picked a wide out in the first round.

@adamteicher: This is in reference to the NFL announcing an 8:30 a.m. Central time kickoff for the Chiefs' Nov. 1 game against the Detroit Lions in London. The league likes the early TV window. They were encouraged enough by the ratings from last year's game played in the same TV window (the Lions against the Atlanta Falcons, also from London) to start all three of this year's overseas games at the early time. But it's going to be an hour earlier for fans in Kansas City than it is for those in Detroit, which is on Eastern time. 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs weren't as strong in the kicking game in 2014 as they were the season before, when they dominated on special teams almost every week.

The Dallas Morning News, as it does every year, put the numbers to that based on 22 statistical categories. It found the Chiefs to be the NFL's eighth-best team in the kicking game. The same ranking put them at No. 3 in 2013.

The Chiefs were down from 2013 to 2014 in the biggest statistical category of all. They scored four touchdowns on kick returns in 2013, two in 2014. They allowed no kick return touchdowns last season for the second year in a row.

Not only did they lead the league in special teams touchdowns in 2013 but also in kickoff return average and punts downed inside the 20. Last season they led the NFL in just one of these kicking-game statistical categories, starting field position after receiving a kickoff.

The Philadelphia Eagles led the special teams rankings, followed by the Buffalo Bills. The AFC champion New England Patriots were third and the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks tied for 17th.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- To get a feel for what the Kansas City Chiefs might do in this year’s draft, keep an eye on Saturday’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

There’s a good chance one or more Chiefs draft picks will be playing. Their last two first-round draft picks, Auburn linebacker Dee Ford in 2014 and Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher in 2013, were Senior Bowlers. The Chiefs in 2013 also selected Senior Bowl players in the fourth round (Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson) and fifth round (Georgia defensive back Sanders Commings).

But even before the arrival of general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid two years ago, the Chiefs drafted Senior Bowl players. They selected at least one every year since the draft went to its current seven-round format in 1994. Some of the other Chiefs who played in the Senior Bowl as they were preparing for the draft: wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, defensive lineman Allen Bailey and offensive lineman Rodney Hudson and Jeff Allen.

This is a good spot for rosters and game information. Here’s an analysis of players who have looked good, and some who haven’t, in practices this week.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For those with ESPN Insider access, Mel Kiper Jr. has re-graded the 2014 NFL draft for all 32 teams. Insider

Predictably, he dropped his grade for the Kansas City Chiefs' draft from a B.

Kiper notes the Chiefs had to make do without a second-round pick, having traded it to the San Francisco 49ers as part of the deal that brought quarterback Alex Smith. Starting quarterbacks come at a cost and, as Kiper points out, Smith is an upgrade over what the Chiefs had at quarterback prior to his arrival.

The Chiefs were left with six players and there's still hope for all of them. First-round linebacker Dee Ford showed some pass rush potential but needs to improve his overall game. Third-round cornerback Phillip Gaines could eventually be a starter as soon as next season. Fourth-rounder De'Anthony Thomas is already one of the league's better punt returners, though he may never deliver much help on offense. Fifth-round quarterback Aaron Murray and sixth-round offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif didn't play last season but could still develop into at least reliable backups. Another sixth-round pick, Zach Fulton, started 16 games at guard as a rookie.

So their draft could go either way. Realistically, some of these players will make it as productive players, others won't.

But this draft also has to be evaluated for what the Chiefs didn't get done. They had a large need, as Kiper notes, for a wide receiver but didn't draft one. That, indeed, was a big failure.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs game against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium on Nov. 1 will kick off at 8:30 a.m. Central time.

I asked Twitter for some reaction and, Twitter being Twitter, it didn't disappoint. Many fans weren't pleased with an early morning start time. A sampling:

 

Other tweets suggest the Chiefs still need to soothe angry fans for moving a home game overseas:

 

But not everyone thinks a London game or an early start time is a bad idea:

 
[+] EnlargeJamaal Charles
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelKansas City fans will have to wake up pretty early to watch the Chiefs play the Lions in London.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs will have what is probably their first early morning (Central time) kickoff for the Nov. 1 game against the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium in London. The NFL announced a 2:30 p.m. local time kickoff for the game, which translates to 8:30 a.m. in Kansas City.

All three NFL games in London next season, including an Oct. 4 matchup between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins and an Oct. 25 game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, will start at 8:30 a.m. CT (9:30 ET).

The NFL started a London game at 8:30 a.m. CT for the first time last season when the Lions played against the Atlanta Falcons. Otherwise, the games have started at the traditional early TV window beginning at noon CT.


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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here's an interesting look from SI.com at how the first round of last year's NFL draft might go if teams had it to do over again.

For the Kansas City Chiefs, in this particular draft, that means Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks instead of Auburn defensive end Dee Ford. Cooks was selected in the real draft by the New Orleans Saints before the Chiefs had a chance to pick.

Cooks was limited to 10 games as a rookie because of injuries but was productive when he did play. He caught 53 passes for 550 yards and three touchdowns. The receptions and yards would have put him second among the Chiefs wide receivers and he would have, of course, led their wideouts in touchdowns.

Ford was drafted more with the future in mind. The Chiefs already had Justin Houston and Tamba Hali playing at outside linebacker, so Ford was mostly a bit player as a rookie. He had 1.5 sacks. Ford, by the way, wasn't selected in the first round of this redo draft.

I'm already on record as saying the Chiefs are at least a year too late in addressing their shortage at wide receiver. Their failure to attack the problem last winter may have cost them a playoff spot this season. The situation is even more acute this year.

I'm not going back on that here. Cooks is more of a slot receiver than a true wideout, so he wouldn't have solved the entire problem. But he would have helped.

I'm also not ready to give up on Ford. The chances are still good he develops into a high-quality pass-rusher, which are harder to find than big-play receivers.

For that reason, Ford remains an important piece for the Chiefs. Houston's contract will soon expire and he will be expensive to re-sign whether he agrees to a long-term deal or is named the franchise player. As the franchise player, there's no guarantee he signs the one-year offer and plays next season. Hali is under contract for 2015 but is probably too expensive for the Chiefs to keep at his current price.

One way or the other, there's a future for Ford in Kansas City. While the Chiefs would be well off to have drafted Cooks, that doesn't mean they made a mistake in selecting Ford.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs saw seven regulars depart as free agents last year and released an eighth. Here we're continuing a series looking back at each of those decisions and rendering a verdict whether the Chiefs made the right decision in letting the player walk.

Schwartz
Today: OL Geoff Schwartz.

Schwartz was a good player for the Chiefs in his one season with them in 2013. He started eight games at guard and was one of their best offensive linemen.

The Chiefs didn’t re-sign him and their guard play suffered greatly in his absence. Left guard, played mostly by veteran journeyman Mike McGlynn, was mostly a disaster. Rookie Zach Fulton, a sixth-round pick, was the other starting guard and the Chiefs suffered through growing pains with him.

The Chiefs did get some bad luck at guard. They shifted one of the projected starters, Jeff Allen, to right tackle to begin the season to cover the loss of Donald Stephenson, who was suspended for the first game of the season. Then Allen injured his elbow in the season opener and was done for the season.

Schwartz was just 27 when the Chiefs let him go, so it’s not like he projected to be at the end of his career. A reasonable assumption was that he had a few good seasons left.

He signed with the New York Giants for four years and $16.8 million. That contract may have been a difficult one for the Chiefs, given their salary-cap situation.

Schwartz went through an injury-plagued season for the Giants, playing in just two games. But it’s impossible to predict injuries and he may have been able to play a full season for the Chiefs had he remained in Kansas City.

Verdict: This was a dilemma for the Chiefs. Their bad fortune last season with Allen’s injury and Stephenson’s suspension make the decision to let Schwartz walk look dubious. But having adequate depth is a big part of building a winning roster and the Chiefs had little in terms of high-quality backups on their offensive line last season. So it would have been a good decision to invest in either Schwartz or Jon Asamoah, another guard who left the Chiefs last year as a free agent.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here is the sixth in a series of 10 plays that shaped the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2014 season. We’re going in chronological order, not in order of importance.

Stopping the opponent’s running game was difficult for the Chiefs most of the season and the Nov. 16 game against the Seattle Seahawks was no different. They allowed 124 yards that day to Marshawn Lynch, who wound up the season as the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher.

But for one shining moment in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs were up to the task of stopping Lynch. His fourth and one run from the Chiefs’ 36 with less than four minutes remaining never had a chance. The Chiefs, led by linemen Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey and linebacker Josh Mauga, swarmed Lynch for no gain, allowing the Chiefs to preserve a 24-20 lead.

That play, combined with two other fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter, allowed the Chiefs to beat the defending Super Bowl champions, win their fifth straight game and tie the Denver Broncos for first place in the AFC West with a 7-3 record.

At that point, all things looked possible for the Chiefs. They had beaten the Seahawks, a victory they wanted as a measuring stick for where they truly stood.

The game was physical, the win emotional and it all appeared to exact a toll on the Chiefs. They would go on to lose four of their next five games and not only fall from the AFC West championship race, but relinquish a playoff spot they appeared to secure when they locked up "Beast Mode" on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.

video
ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher talks about the team holding camp in St. Joseph, Missouri, for the next three years.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Interesting stuff, as usual, from the good folks at Pro Football Focus. This time, they’ve put together their all-AFC West team, which reveals a few interesting things.

The Denver Broncos led the list with 11 selections, which is what you would expect from a team that finished 12-4 and won the AFC West by three games over the 9-7 Kansas City Chiefs and 9-7 San Diego Chargers.

The Chiefs, even though they weren’t close to Denver in the standings, were right behind the Broncos with 10 all-AFC West selections. The Chargers and Raiders were far behind with four and three all-division choices, respectively.

These numbers suggest, assuming they’re an accurate portrayal of the relative talent on the four teams, that the Chiefs were drastic underachievers. They have almost as many good players as the Broncos but finished three games behind. They have many more good players than the Chargers but finished tied with San Diego in the standings.

Let’s look at the 10 Chiefs selections: fullback Anthony Sherman, tight end Travis Kelce, right tackle Ryan Harris and center Rodney Hudson on offense, outside linebacker Justin Houston, nose tackle Dontari Poe and cornerback Sean Smith on defense and punter Dustin Colquitt, kick returner De’Anthony Thomas and coverage player Josh Martin on special teams.

Other than Harris, who had an up-and-down season, the others were deserving of a spot on the all-division team. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus’ choice at running back of Denver’s C.J. Anderson instead of the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles is puzzling. Charles had more rushing yards (1,033 to 849), a better per-carry average (5.0 yards to 4.7) and more rushing touchdowns (9 to 8).

But on balance, maybe PFF got things right. If so, the Chiefs wasted good seasons from a lot of good players by failing to win more than nine games and failing to reach the postseason.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray, a developmental prospect, has a torn ACL in his left knee. That can explain the Chiefs’ recent move to sign former Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

“Anytime one of your players suffers a significant injury like Tyler’s it is disappointing, and we hurt for the player,” general manager John Dorsey said. “With Tyler’s injury having a longer recovery time, we’ve signed quarterback Terrelle Pryor to a reserve/futures contract. As we’ve said before, we are always looking to add talented players to our roster and Terrelle was among the top players on our ready list at that position with his athleticism and experience. We believe having him in our quarterback room and working with our offensive coaches will enhance his growth.”

Bray
Bray is scheduled for surgery in the coming days. He spent the season on the injured-reserve list because of an ankle injury and injured the knee since the end of the season.

The injury has plenty of ramifications. Assuming nine months from surgery to be a reasonable time frame for a return in the modern NFL, Bray wouldn’t be back until October at the earliest. So his offseason, training camp and preseason will be spent with his knee on the mend and, realistically, his 2015 season is over.

For Bray, the question becomes how long the Chiefs are willing to wait for him to develop. It already has been two seasons since he arrived as an undrafted free agent from Tennessee, albeit one with uncommon ability. The Chiefs have kept him around for two seasons without any playing time because he has consistently shown the ability to make all the throws an NFL quarterback needs to make.

But now, with 2016 the earliest Bray would play for them, his future looks decidedly different. He conceivably could have won the No. 2 quarterback spot with a strong showing in the offseason, camp and the preseason, but by the time he returns the quarterback landscape could look decidedly different in Kansas City.

The Chiefs are left with four quarterbacks: starter Alex Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel, Pryor and Aaron Murray, a fifth-round draft pick last year who didn’t play as a rookie.

Daniel’s roster spot would seem to be in danger because he’s scheduled to make $3.8 million for a team that will otherwise need the salary-cap room. So Pryor and Murray could well spend the spring and summer vying to be Smith’s top backup.
Take a listen to this week's NFL Nation TV podcast as the crew breaks down the latest in the league's coaching changes.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by four other NFL Nation reporters to discuss the recent hirings made by the teams they cover.

Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) discusses the hiring of Gary Kubiak, minutes before Kubiak was introduced to media in the Mile High City. Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears reporter) chats about former Broncos head coach John Fox's recent hiring in the Windy City. Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) talks about Todd Bowles becoming the Jets' new head coach. And Bill Williamson (Oakland Raiders reporter) and Gutierrez break down the decisions that brought Jack Del Rio back to the Bay Area, and kept Jim Tomsula there.

Be sure to watch NFL Nation TV live on ESPN.com each Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT, and give the show's podcast a listen following each taping.

Listen to this week's podcast here.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston beat Houston's J.J. Watt for this season's NFL sack title. He didn't beat Watt for the AFC defensive player of the year given by Kansas City's committee of 101.

Joseph
Houston
 Watt will be among those honored at the annual 101 Banquet on Feb. 28 in Kansas City.

The other 101 award winners: Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown as AFC offensive players of the year, New England's Bill Belichick as AFC coach of the year, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers as NFC offensive player of the year, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman as NFC defensive player of the year and Arizona's Brice Arians as NFC coach of the year.

While it's difficult to argue with the choice of Watt as AFC defensive player of the year, Houston had an equally compelling claim to the award. He had 22 sacks, a half-sack from the NFL record set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants. He was more than just a pass rusher. Houston was a superb in pass coverage and as run defender, making him a well-rounded player.

But Watt is the one AFC defender other than Houston worthy of the award. He had 20.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, an interception and a defensive touchdown to go along with his three touchdown catches on offense.

NFL Nation TV talks new coaches

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
11:00
AM ET
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) for ESPN NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast as episode No. 40 will wrap up Championship Sunday and look ahead to the new coaches settling in across the league.

Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter) and co-hosts Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) will be joined by four other NFL Nation reporters throughout the show.

Jeff Legwold (Denver Broncos reporter) will let us know what the Gary Kubiak hire means for Peyton Manning, while Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears reporter) will break down how a defensive-minded John Fox affects Jay Cutler.

Plus, Rich Cimini (New York Jets reporter) will talk all things Todd Bowles and his search for an offensive coordinator before Vaughn McClure (Atlanta Falcons reporter) gives us the latest on the Dirty Birds' search for a head coach and if it’s essentially a package deal with Dan Quinn and Adam Gase.

Gutierrez will also discuss the Bay Area goings-on with the Niners’ choice of Jim Tomsula, why Lane Kiffin would be a curious choice as his offensive coordinator and the Oakland Raiders bringing Jack Del Rio home to the East Bay.

Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.

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