Cleat Geeks

The IDP Geek Huddle: Kansas City

Before we start with this article I’d like to mention that originally I had no intentions of writing about the Kansas City situation so soon. But with some rumored reports servicing I believe now may be as good as time as any to “take” on the situation.

For those of you that may have followed me last season and kept up on my IDP notes on the happenings in the NFL each week, you’ll find this a familiar subject. But one with a lot more detail on how things could play out in Kansas City with their inside linebackers for 2018. I was going to follow this situation up into the free agency period and see exactly if what I had been repeatedly stating was going to play out. To my surprise, I’ve recently seen indications that the ideas on my “takes” as I see them have hit mainstream already. So to help us out early on here in the off-season I’ll lay out what I know and try to help decide how to proceed.

Image result for derrick johnson chiefs

There have been multiple reports lately stating that Kansas City Chiefs are likely to move on from inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and his $8 million cap soon. Again, anyone who followed my IDP notes won’t find this shocking as I stated the same thing to the point I actually got tired of talking about it. Well, now that it’s finally hitting mainstream there are a couple of in-house linebackers I need to fully cover again and why we need to track the progress of the situation. I’ll try to approach this like it’s all brand new to me. Forgive me if I stray from that course. It’s been a long six months of monitoring things.

 

First Transaction:

In late July last summer Kansas City’s GM made a head-scratching move by trading their pro-bowl special teams player and backup linebacker D.J. Alexander for Kevin Pierre-Louis from Seattle. It seemed to be an off the wall move by the Chiefs as Pierre-Louis didn’t actually hold any significant value as more than a depth player in Seattle. The trade was made and forgotten as camp started with little to no fanfare about the transaction.

Image result for Kevin Pierre-Louis kansas city

Second Transaction:

Around a month later in late August, it was announced that the Chiefs made a trade with Buffalo for 2016 draft star linebacker Reggie Ragland. The new Buffalo coaching staff had plans to change to a 4-3 defense and didn’t see Ragland having the range to cover the field in that defensive scheme. So the Chiefs swooped in and obtained the former 2016 second round pick for a mere fourth-round pick in 2019. And that isn’t a typo, it was a fourth in 2019.

 

Little did we know that in the end that both transactions would be very telling trades on the intentions of the team about the direction they’d want to head in for 2018. General Manager Brett Veach had only been in his new office since the beginning of last July and was willing to acquire these two linebackers that if we add the value up with both transactions seem meaningless then. It has now become the assumption he did these with a purpose in mind.

Changing Of The Guard

The Chiefs started the season with veteran Derrick Johnson manning the middle of the defense as we all expected. But it didn’t take long for Johnson to show his age and it was apparent that he wasn’t up to the task to be the run stopping and the coverage guy he had once been. Johnson has been a beast for a long time but has endured injuries in recent years that just simply took its toll on his aging body. So as the weeks wore on they started inserting Ragland and Pierre-Louis to supplement DJ’s inadequacies more and more. With Ragland gaining the most momentum as the “run stopper” and DJ and Pierre-Louis supporting the coverage duties. None of this did anything for fantasy owners on a level that meant much. But overall on the field, it helped the Chiefs defense. As we talk about this we need to keep in mind that Ragland and Pierre-Louis only joined the team last summer and it does take some time for young players to acclimate themselves to a team’s defensive scheme. Also just how exactly do they take a long time veteran like DJ that has the respect of everyone involved and reduce his role?

Image result for reggie ragland chiefs

As aggravating it was to watch unfold week in and week out from an IDP point of view while praying they just pull the trigger, the Chiefs handled this perfectly. They managed to get Ragland on the field allowing him to gain some confidence back after his lost rookie season due to injury and the demotion in Buffalo. While also playing to Pierre-Louis’s strength of coverage skills and open field tackling to familiarize himself with the speed of the game. Something he was lacking coming out of Seattle due to their linebacker depth. And at the least allowing DJ some breathing time during the contests while not stripping him of his pride. The Chiefs pulled it off with no hard feelings and managed to make a playoff run in the process. DJ even managed to finish out on top in the wildcard game they lost by being a human highlight reel.

But now it’s time for general manager Veach has to prepare for the future with a roster in “cap hell” with a few “aged” players that are no longer starting caliber players. Changes have to be made, and the Ragland and Pierre-Louis trades mean more to the Chiefs now than it ever did then. Let’s take a look at what “cap hell” looks like, we’ll add a direct link below to a cap tracking site below in case a deeper look is warranted.

By count, these are the nine defensive players in the top fifteen of Kansas City’s total cap at the moment. These are key players on the defense as well, and a defense that’s old. They allowed the fifth most yards allowed per game and it can be said it is the reason they didn’t have a better year in 2017. Granted they made the playoffs, but it wasn’t because the defense was dominating. They clearly are in transition on the offensive side of the ball and used some of the radar transactions last year to start the process on the defensive side. This is also not listing 28-year-old DT Bennie Logan who is straight out a 2018 UFA who made a total of $8,000,000 in 2017. A player they may or may not need to decide on. Altogether we could see the Chiefs release or move on from up to or about six aging or ineffective players from the defensive side of the ball if Veach truly wants to bring on the youth movement.

The Case for Ragland and Pierre-Louise by the numbers

When we have a look at the overall snap counts in the regular season of the Chiefs inside linebackers the final percentages are not as telling as looking at the game by game.

The final year-end tallies:
Derrick Johnson: 76.75%
Reggie Ragland: 29.25%
Kevin Pierre-Louis: 22.80%
Ramik Wilson: 11.35%

Game by Game:

From week nine on is where it really looks interesting. It’s at the point that DJ isn’t receiving what we should consider an every-down linebackers amount of snap counts. An every-down linebacker should be receiving no less than 80% on average. Another notable fact would be that in game sixteen that the Chiefs choose to sit all three players preparing for their playoff run. This is normally not only a move that a team can make knowing that the game is meaningless in whether they make the playoffs, but we can assume it’s a thing that teams do with players they value.

Now we will look at how the snap count went in the wildcard game that the Chiefs lost. In the end, DJ and Ragland dominated with 71% of the snaps apiece, while Pierre-Louis ended with 30%. I’m sure many of us who watched this contest saw DJ play like he was still in his prime the second half at the expense of Pierre-Louis. But I’d like to point out an observation here about that. To start the game it was DJ and Ragland that received the start, but Pierre-Louis actually received 90% of his 30% share of the snaps over DJ in the first half. Pierre-Louis was actually having a very solid game at that point. But as the second half started they again trotted out DJ over Pierre-Louis who simply did what all great veterans do in that situation and stepped up and started playing like a man possessed. In turn, it left Pierre-Louis on the bench. I’ve done the research and nowhere can I locate anything about Pierre-Louis messing up or suffering an injury that warranted him not to continue to receive the snaps percentage he had going in the first half. One can assume it simply came down to not taking your veteran linebacker off the field in a game that meant so much while he is playing at the level that DJ was playing at the time. All hail DJ for his effort in that game. At his age and knowing that he had been supplemented for the last part of the season by youth, he went all out to try and get his team to the next round of the playoffs. And yes DJ did now he was being fazed out, he commented at the time about the fact the team came first in the media.

Now for a quick look at what each linebacker did with their share of the snaps in the regular season.

Let me say one thing before we go on. I’ve done this formula for playmaking abilities on a lot of players. And I never dreamed that Pierre-Louis and Ragland would score a P.A.P.S like this. I had to triple check my math. Those are both comparable to LB1 scores. And not just comparable, but higher end. DJ actually falls into a low-end LB2. Any of you out there who owned DJ for IDP during the regular season felt that fact this past season, I’m sure. I’ll note here that when doing my formula for playmaking ability it doesn’t include the special teams snaps now like when I first started it. The reason does I let that affect the final score or not. In the end, I decided it was splitting hairs and not in favor of the actual outcome. So let it be known that Ragland and DJ didn’t play special teams and that Pierre-Louis played an additional 249 on special teams. Odds are to have his speed on the field showing flexibility. But either way, just how often does a special team player make a tackle. I’ll tell you the percentage is way lower on average than one would think. And if Pierre-Louis did make a few of his tackles on special teams then it also shows the ability to make plays regardless. We have to consider the results as accurate enough to make the call.

The Assumption

So after it is all laid out with the “cap hell” the general manager is facing with older players and the stats are crunched we have to make a “take” on what can possibly play out in 2018. Let’s assume that DJ is released along with a few other notable names on the defensive side of the ball for cap relief. Not only will they need to replace DJ in the middle of the defense, but they will likely need to focus on replacing the other “named” key players. Where does GM Veach focus his attention? We should consider that it won’t be on the linebackers based on the 2017 season transactions and the end results of how things have played out. Not to mention the rest of the team’s needs across the board. The team is sitting solidly at running back or is it with the news breaking that Kareem Hunt was recently accused of shoving a woman during a party. Or the fact that the new starting quarterback Pat Mahomes actually only has two viable receiving threats in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

It should be safe to say that Reggie Ragland will be counted on to be the run stopping linebacker and receiving a full workload in 2018. While most mainstream “takes” actually are naming him the replacement for DJ if or when DJ is released. I disagree. Pierre-Louis was actually the player relieving DJ on the field as the cover linebacker, not Ragland. Ragland’s role pretty well remained the same as the season went on. The main combinations didn’t have DJ and Pierre-Louis on the field much at all if any. It was Ragland and one of DJ or Pierre-Louis. We have to consider that Veach broke in his starting linebackers for 2018 while planning ahead. And as free agency looms why would he release players to reduce cap this season to only sign a high profile free agent linebacker and tank the cap again. We have to think the same with the rookie draft. He may draft a linebacker, but does he draft one of the higher rounds locking the rookie into a starting linebacker role? Especially with what he may need to replace elsewhere in the lineup or add to upgrade.

While Ragland is clearly going to be a starter there is one thing that happened that Pierre- Louis has put himself in a questionable situation as a Chief. He was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, THC and drug paraphernalia, driving without a valid license and failure to display a valid license plate or current registration after being pulled over at a traffic stop by Kansas Highway Patrol.

This wasn’t too smart on his part and normally would have me suggesting that we might avoid him. But it is his first infraction, and knowing this and the fact of what the Chiefs gave up to obtain him I believe they do go ahead and resign him. His timing couldn’t have been at a worse time for him on a personal level. But for the team, it really depends on what general manager Veach and coach Andy Reed thought of his production and his presence in the locker room. Is he really a bad apple or a young man who made a mistake. I have been relentless in keeping up with the situation before and after his arrest. The reports and assumptions were positive before this mishap and still remain on the positive side afterward. Of course, this is not with any direct statement from the Chief’s front office. But if you were them and sent your pro-bowl special teams player with a couple years left on his contract in exchange for Pierre-Louis knowing what the future plans in mind are, would you not take advantage of the young man’s mistake and simple sign him for less money and a possible prove it deal?

For our fantasy IDP purposes, all that’s happened is that it’ll clearly go to be cheaper to acquire Pierre-Louis and his “upside” over Ragland. The first sign to act on this if you haven’t will be soon as the Chiefs decide what to do in “cap hell”

I wouldn’t normally do this. But I’m confident that the value of obtaining Pierre-Louis over what it would cost to get Ragland and receiving about the same fantasy production in 2018, that I’d like to reinforce the idea with a few recent articles from the mainstream media. All are after his arrest.

  1. Derick Johnson’s contract voids on Mar. 14th
  2. The Veach-ization of Chiefs
  3. KPL must be resigned

Anyone out there that has followed as I covered the situation unfolding last season knows I had the same takeaway before these articles. I’ll gamble my reputation by adding them versus what I’ve stated all along if it gets the point across and helps anyone who will take action when the timing is right. If he gets a couple games suspension I’m personally willing to wait it out.

As always thanks for reading and be sure to follow up with me on twitter @HBogart27 for anything IDP.

Cap Link here

 

Resources:
NFL.com
Pro-football-reference.com
spotrac.com

Leave a Reply

GET YOUR  ON!

If you like this site or just simply want to school your friends because you got the information first.  

Join us on the field! Click on any of the links below.

%d bloggers like this: