The Chiefs’ first bit of bad news since Patrick Mahomes’ kneecap went sideways came when starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland was arrested Tuesday outside a South Carolina convenience store.
The temptation is to gauge how much of a negative impact this will have on the Chiefs’ attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Short answer: none.
Longer answer: continue reading.
The news created some metaphorical shrapnel, with a subsequent report that Breeland was already facing a four-game suspension for a separate violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
So the temptation is to wonder how the Chiefs could’ve passed on a defensive back in the first three rounds of last week’s NFL Draft with the knowledge that Breeland would be unavailable for a quarter of the season.
Short answer: C’mon, you guys. Don’t do this.
Longer answer: continue reading.
Look, I believe the Chiefs would’ve better maximized the value of their picks by selecting a defensive back first and a running back later.
That’s my stance even as it is easy to see why they believe LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a rare talent and rarer fit for their offense. Edwards-Helaire will be a stud running back, productive in fantasy leagues and popular with fans.
But, generally speaking, history and analytics show that exceptional running backs can be had in the middle of the draft.
I believe all of that with my mind and heart, and I still believe it’s foolish to say Breeland’s four-game suspension should’ve pushed the Chiefs to draft a defensive back higher.
Is that contradictory? Hopefully not.
The Chiefs are among the NFL’s most bankable commodities. Since Andy Reid was hired in 2013, only the Patriots have won more games or made more postseasons. The Chiefs are now better than ever, a Super Bowl team that brings back a roster almost entirely intact and still on the better side of the career arc.
In other words, they are the league’s safest bet to appear once again in the next postseason. They are supremely positioned to view things holistically now, and not be prisoners of the moment.
All of that is true and you want to make the case that hypothetically missing their No. 2 cornerback for the first four games means they should’ve chased a cornerback in the first round?
No. The argument to prioritize a defensive back is that it would help the defense more than any player can help an offense that’s already the league’s best (when healthy), and that a running back who could help the offense immediately could’ve been found in the later rounds.
Similarly, the argument that this won’t leave a tangible and negative impact on the next Chiefs season is straightforward. They’ll make the playoffs no matter who starts at corner the first four games, and even if he is suspended, Breeland will be available long before the first postseason game.
That’s still true, by the way.
Breeland’s potential suspension is worth discussing, though, even while it’s reportedly under appeal.
For one, it explains why a better market did not develop for him in free agency before he re-signed with the Chiefs for one year and $4.5 million. A league source confirmed that teams knew about the pending suspension during free agency.
The next question, then, is whether this week’s arrest will create a bigger suspension.
Please understand that this is merely speculation based on the information available right now, but … probably not.
Breeland was not cited for DWI or DUI. All of the charges, including those involving marijuana, are misdemeanors. When viewed toward a possible longer suspension, Breeland’s potential problem is in resisting arrest.
That’s notable because it falls under the league’s personal-conduct policy, with punishment at the commissioner’s discretion. We know his discretion has varied wildly in the past.
More information will come out. The arrest happened at a convenience store, so there could be security footage. Maybe the police officers had body cams. Witness statements will be analyzed. That information will help or hurt Breeland’s case, but there’s no way to know that answer right now.
It could take months and, besides, the league office has more pressing concerns than Breeland on its hands.
A similar thing can be said about the Chiefs, actually. They have bigger advantages than a four-game hole at one cornerback spot can expose.
A year ago, this team signed corner Mo Claiborne during training camp. Claiborne was also serving a four-game suspension and the assumption from many was that he would be the starting corner opposite Breeland when he returned.
That never happened. Charvarius Ward played well, gained confidence and eventually became the team’s best cornerback. Maybe this is now Rashad Fenton’s opportunity, or Chris Lammons’, or Antonio Hamilton’s, or even Alex Brown’s or Thakarius Keyes’.
Worst-case scenario, the Chiefs give up a few more pass plays early than they will later in the year. Either way, this is a playoff team that knows its success or failure will be determined in the playoffs.
Breeland’s arrest is bad for Breeland, and he has to live with the understanding that a potential pending suspension could’ve cost him millions of dollars. But if the Chiefs don’t win another Super Bowl, it’s not going to be because Breeland was arrested in April and missed the first four games of the 2020 season.
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