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Chiefs GM Brett Veach Sounds Off on KC's Plans for Top 3 Free Agents

The Chiefs' general manager made noteworthy comments on Tyrann Mathieu, Orlando Brown Jr. and Charvarius Ward on Tuesday.

Speaking from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was asked about three of the Chiefs' top pending free agents: left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., safety Tyrann Mathieu, and cornerback Charvarius Ward.

Here's what Veach had to say about the trio and what Veach's comments indicate about their futures.

Feb 4, 2022; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown (57) during AFC practice at the Las Vegas Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Veach on left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.

"With Orlando, I'm sure [using the franchise tag] is likely. We're going to work hard to get a deal done with him."

Takeaway: Brown will be back

Brown was never likely to be one-and-done in Kansas City after being acquired in a pre-draft trade less than a year ago, and Veach has now publicly made that all but official. 

By placing the franchise tag on Brown, the Chiefs would keep their options open while securing their left tackle for 2022. If no further deal is reached, the Chiefs would hold Brown's rights for '22 at a cap hit projected to be just below $17 million. However, both sides still have incentives to agree to a long-term deal before the typical July deadline for a new multi-year agreement. This would give the Chiefs and Brown several months to negotiate a long-term deal to keep Brown in Kansas City for years to come.

If Brown does sign a long-term deal after being tagged, the franchise tag year would be scrapped in favor of the construction of the new deal. For Brown, a long-term deal would provide more guaranteed money. For the Chiefs, a longer contract would allow them to carry a lower cap hit in 2022 while locking down their left tackle of the future. Brown's time in Kansas City seems extremely likely to continue. 

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Jan 30, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrates during the second half of the AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Veach on safety Tyrann Mathieu

"After the Cincinnati game, we had a chance to talk, we communicated that we certainly love Tyrann and Tyrann loves being here. This is actually the start of that process now. So once the season ends, the coaches do their deal, and we sit back and we collect all the information and get with the coaches after they go through their scheme evaluations, and we know that once Indy rolls around, we'll have a chance to — obviously, on one hand, see all the great college prospects, but on the other hand, have an opportunity to talk with our players' agents and exchange information, so we'll start that process this week and hopefully everything ends in a positive direction."

Takeaway: Nothing is certain at this point

Veach's confidence in the Chiefs' strategy in retaining Brown comes in stark contrast to his comments on the plan for Mathieu. While the Chiefs have the franchise tag option for Brown, tagging Mathieu would be extremely cost-prohibitive due to a provision that would have made Mathieu's franchise tag hit in the neighborhood of $23 million for 2022. Also worth noting: Brown turns 26 in May. Mathieu will turn 30, also in May.

While the Chiefs reiterate at every turn that they love Mathieu (and while Mathieu publicly says he wants to stay in Kansas City), the Chiefs would likely hesitate to extend Mathieu into his mid-30s. Something along the lines of a three-year deal with a team-friendly out after year two could be enough to bridge the gap, but Mathieu should be highly pursued by other teams who may be more willing to add guaranteed years to his contract.

Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward (35) is introduced before a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Veach on cornerback Charvarius Ward

"Year by year, he got better and better and better, and he's certainly a guy that, just like Tyrann and some more of these players, we're going to have dialogue with them. Love to have Charvarius back, think he's a talented player, he's done well in our scheme. Coaches like him, I like him, and y'know, it's one of those things that you have to work through in free agency when you have a talented roster and try to get as many of these guys as you can and keep these guys under contract, but he'll be a guy that we'll certainly look forward to spending a lot of time with here in the next few weeks.

Takeaway: Waiting on the market

Charvarius Ward has been among the most underrated members of the Chiefs defense during his time as one of the team's top cornerbacks, but suddenly, he's likely to get much more attention. 

The Chiefs would certainly love to bring Ward back on a deal similar to the one-year, $3.4 million tender they used on him in 2021, but the price tag will be much higher as Ward, a former undrafted free agent, hits free agency for the first time. 

Under Veach, the Chiefs have not paid a premium for their cornerbacks, either in salary or in draft picks. Retaining Ward seems like an outside possibility at this point, with a chance for the Chiefs to buck their cornerback trend if they choose to retain Ward at market value.