Chiefs reach agreements with several undrafted free agents

Chiefs' Eric Fisher talks about being a better offensive lineman

Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Fisher offensive lineman, talked to the media recently at the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility to discuss his goal of becoming a better offensive lineman for the Chiefs.
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Kansas City Chiefs, Eric Fisher offensive lineman, talked to the media recently at the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility to discuss his goal of becoming a better offensive lineman for the Chiefs.

The conclusion of the NFL Draft often brings about a swarm of moves, as teams around the league continue their ongoing efforts to find a diamond in the rough among the throng of undrafted players.

The Chiefs continued their annual effort this time of year, agreeing to deals with Florida State linebacker Terrence Smith, Vanderbilt offensive guard Jake Bernstein and Mount Union cornerback Tre Jones as priority undrafted free agents, sources told The Star.

Meanwhile, Brett Tessler, agent for Brigham Young receiver Mitch Mathews, tweeted that his client signed with the Chiefs despite offers from “many” other teams because he likes the opportunity. Southern Methodist announced that safety/linebacker Shakiel Randolph also signed with the Chiefs.

The Chiefs also invited a number of players to the team’s rookie minicamp, which starts Saturday and ends May 9.

That list includes Montana linebacker Herbert Gamboa, Citadel receiver Brandon Eakins, Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri, SUNY Cortland defensive lineman Jake Ceresna and South Dakota linebacker Keyen Lage, sources told The Star. Fresno State also announced that long snapper Dylan Detwiler has earned a rookie-camp invite, as well. East Carolina receiver Chris Hairston has also received a rookie camp invite, per a source.

The difference between a priority free agent and a rookie camp invite is that priority free agents receive contracts — and thus, money in the form of a small signing bonus — while tryout players aren’t guaranteed anything. That often gives priority free agents a better shot to make the team, since the club has already invested some money.

That’s part of the reason players sometimes back out of these agreements around this time of year, as well. If another team comes along and offers players a deal, it often makes sense for them to sign it and earn some money, given the tenuous nature of rookie-tryout invites.

This happened to the Chiefs last year, when Stony Brook tight end Will Tye agreed to attend their rookie minicamp after the draft, but backed out once the Giants offered him a contract. Tye went on to post a solid rookie season for the Giants, catching 42 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns.

Still, the Chiefs managed to bring in a nice crop of undrafted rookies last year. Among the priority free agents from last year’s draft who made it through organized team activities and opened training camp with the team were receiver Kenny Cook, long snapper Andrew East and linebacker Justin March. Center Daniel Munyer took the toughest road of all, going from being a rookie tryout player to earning a camp invite.

And of those four, three — Cook, March and Munyer — are currently on the 90-man offseason roster, and could have a chance to once again compete for positions during organized team activities, which start this month.

Deadline to exercise Fisher’s option looms

The Chiefs have until today to execute their fifth-year option on tackle Eric Fisher, which should approach $12 million for 2017. The option is guaranteed for injury, which means he’d get it automatically if he were to be seriously hurt this season.

If Fisher doesn’t get hurt this season but fails to live up to the team’s expectations, the Chiefs could cut him at any time before the first day of the new league year in March 2017 and eliminate his cap charge completely.

Fisher, the No. 1 pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, is projected to be the Chiefs’ starting left tackle in 2016. Chiefs coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey said Fisher, who dealt with injuries and uneven play early in his career, came on strong toward the end of last season.