Mar 19, 2020 3:31 AM

Chiefs restructure DE Frank Clark’s contract to create cap space

Posted Mar 19, 2020 3:31 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The cash-strapped Kansas City Chiefs were quiet on the first day of NFL free agency with their biggest move Wednesday a restructuring of defensive end Frank Clark's contract in an effort to alleviate some of their financial misery.

Similar moves could be made in the coming days, potentially for wide receiver Sammy Watkins and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as the Super Bowl champions try to free up the resources to bolster their defense in free agency and sign star quarterback Patrick Mahomes to what could be a record-setting extension.

The Chiefs also have to decide what to do with Chris Jones, who was given the franchise tag earlier this week and would need to be offered a one-year deal worth at least $16,126,000. The problem is that number is almost untenable for Kansas City, which means general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid have to decide whether to reach a long-term deal with him — something they failed to do last offseason — or attempt to trade him to a team with more cap space.

The trade would be akin to what the Seahawks did with Clark, who was given the franchise tag and then dealt to the Chiefs for a pair of draft picks. Veach proceeded to sign him to a $105.5 million, five-year contract extension.

“You're going to have to find, really, where a team is, right? Because you talk about a tag-and-trade, you're talking about draft quantity and money, and the team has to be in a position it makes sense for them,” Veach said. “It was a unique setup last year and certainly we were happy to get that done and ultimately win the Super Bowl.”

Watkins starred during the Chiefs' championship victory over San Francisco, and the club would love to have him back given they expect to lose wide receiver Demarcus Robinson in free agency. But he also carries a prohibitive $21 million hit against the salary cap next season, so Watkins' deal will likely be restructured if he isn't released.

“Sammy is a guy like Chris that we'll have dialogue with,” Veach said. “There's different scenarios and options that will play out with him. He's a guy we do want back. These are good problems to have. You win a Super Bowl, you have a lot of good players. We'll talk about the landscape of where we are. What's the landscape for us and how can we make it work?”

The only deal the Chiefs have reached in free agency so far is a two-year contract with backup quarterback Chad Henne, who missed most of last season with a broken ankle. The Chiefs elected to bring him back as the second-string QB over Matt Moore, who was signed when Henne went down and wound up leading them to a pair of wins.

If the Chiefs manage to free up some salary cap space, expect them to target the best cornerbacks still available. They lost Kendall Fuller, Morris Claiborne and Bashaud Breeland to free agency, leaving them perilously thin at the position.

The Chiefs also could address that problem through the draft, though their selections will come at the end of each round.

“I get excited (about the draft) because Brett and his guys do such a good job, you know you're going to get a good player,” Reid said. “I'm OK with it being 32. We're OK there. We get a player, get a good player that can help us — it doesn't have to be any particular position. It has to be someone who can come in and help you, whether it's this year or down the road.”

--- Associated Press ---

Continue Reading St Joseph Post
Mar 19, 2020 3:31 AM
Kansas finishes No. 1 in final AP Top 25 poll

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self has spent much of the past week mulling ways to commemorate one of the more remarkable seasons in the school's proud basketball history, one that began with numerous off-the-court distractions and ended in the unprecedented cancellation of the NCAA tournament.

The Jayhawks can start by celebrating their finish atop the final Top 25 from The Associated Press.

The regular-season Big 12 champions, who were 28-3 when the season abruptly ended after the first day of the conference tournament last week, received 63 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in balloting released Wednesday. That easily outdistanced No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Dayton, each of whom received a first-place vote.

"Nobody in America had better season than we did," Self said. "How do you give credit to that effort and have it be recognized? And I don't know exactly how we do it. Do we do it within our own fan base? Do we do it within podcasts or whatnot? Whatever we've come up with so far pales in comparison to the accolades they deserve."

It's the fourth time since the inception of the men's poll for the 1946-47 season that Kansas finished on top, though typically there would still be March Madness to play. The AP does not declare a national champion in the sport because of the tournament.

The final rankings were based on play through March 11, when the coronavirus pandemic brought the sport to a halt.

The Jayhawks claim five national championships, the most recent in 2008 after they beat Memphis in the NCAA tournament title game. But despite a season in which 353 teams played thousands of games and Kansas finished as the clear-cut No. 1, the school's Hall of Fame coach was unwilling to stake claim to any kind of championship.

"That's not the way this is all intended to be," Self said. "Coaches prepare their teams to peak at certain times. I'm proud of how our team prepared all season but especially at the end of the season, we were terrific. We operated under some pressure and dealt with some stuff. From our standpoint, sure, that would be great, but even if that were to occur, there would be a huge asterisk next to it, and I would agree with that."

Gonzaga (31-2) finished second after beating Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference finals, one of a handful of league tournaments that were completed. But the Bulldogs will be left to wonder whether another dominant team from coach Mark Few would have finally delivered the school a national championship.

Dayton (29-2) was third behind breakout stars Jalen Crutcher and Obi Toppin. That matched the 1955-56 team led by Bill Uhl and Jim Paxson for the best finish in program history.

EDITOR'S PICKS

BPI's NCAA tournament bracket simulation will surprise you

"The voters who deemed us worthy to be one of the top five teams in the country and finish in the poll in the top three, we appreciate that," Flyers coach Anthony Grant said. "Having that recognition hopefully is something -- another thing that you can look back on and will be in the history books, that this team was able to accomplish a top-five ranking."

Florida State (26-5) was fourth in the final poll, easily the best finish for the Seminoles, and No. 5 Baylor (26-4) spent a longer stretch at No. 1 than any other team during a topsy-turvy season.

"I think 'historical' always sums up a season when you're able to set so many records and accomplish so many things," said Bears coach Scott Drew, whose team was in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing second to Kansas in the Big 12 race. "This group really got along well. It is a group that really loved one another, spent time with one another, and they were always positive, and that led us to having a historical year."

San Diego State, Creighton, Kentucky, Michigan State and Villanova rounded out the top 10.

REST OF THE POLL

No. 11 Duke finished outside the top 10 for only the second time since 2007. Maryland, Oregon, Louisville and Seton Hall came next.

The rest of the Top 25 included reigning national champion Virginia at No. 16, followed by Wisconsin, BYU, Ohio State and Auburn. The final five in the poll were Illinois, Houston, Butler, West Virginia and Iowa.

BEST OF THE REST

The first two teams outside the poll were two teams with a good chance to have been NCAA tournament darlings -- or break a whole lot of brackets. Stephen F. Austin was 28-3 with a win over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in November. East Tennessee State went 30-4 and went toe-to-toe with the Jayhawks before losing at Allen Fieldhouse.

Among those also receiving votes in the final poll were Michigan, which climbed as high as No. 4 early in the season; Penn State, which was looking forward to its first NCAA tournament appearance in nine years; Texas Tech, which slumped a bit after its national runner-up finish a year ago; and back-to-back Atlantic Sun champion Liberty.

AP Men's Basketball Top 25 Poll

First-place votes in parentheses.

TEAM RECORD

1. Kansas (63) 28-3

2. Gonzaga (1) 31-2

3. Dayton (1) 29-2

4. Florida State 26-5

5. Baylor 26-4

6. San Diego State 30-2

7. Creighton 24-7

8. Kentucky 25-6

9. Michigan State 22-9

10. Villanova 24-7

11. Duke 25-6

12. Maryland 24-7

13. Oregon 24-7

14. Louisville 24-7

15. Seton Hall 21-9

16. Virginia 23-7

17. Wisconsin 21-10

18. BYU 24-8

19. Ohio State 21-10

20. Auburn 25-6

21. Illinois 21-10

22. Houston 23-8

23. Butler 22-9

24. West Virginia 21-10

25. Iowa 20-11

--- Associated Press ---