GENERAL MANAGER BRETT VEACH
OPENING STATEMENT: “Had a lot of information here obviously transpire in the last couple of days. Just like to hit on a few points and then leave it open for questions. First off, I want to start off by acknowledging Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali. It’s been an honor and privilege to come to work every day and see two iconic players work at their craft, develop the young guys and really leave the gas tank empty on Sunday. I’m not sure if they’ll continue to play, I’m not sure if they’re going to retire, but the one thing I am sure of is that they’ll always be a part of the Chiefs Kingdom. I want to thank Ron Parker for the last five years of his service to the team. Just seems like yesterday that we were upstairs in the draft room going through our first waiver wire and Ron was a guy that was an athletic corner/safety, wasn’t sure what he was going to be but he developed into a really dependable player for us and he was a big part of our success. Two trades that were made official today, the first trade was with the Washington Redskins. In that deal we sent Alex Smith to them in return for 2018 third-round selection and Kendall Fuller. Obviously we’re really extremely excited about Kendall. He’s an ascending player with a tremendous amount of potential, I mean this kid’s got versatility, instincts, ball skills and again we’re really excited to add Kendall to our roster. The second trade that was made official today was the deal that sent Marcus Peters and a 2018 sixth-round pick in return for a 2018 fourth-round and a 2019 second-round. With regards to the Marcus Peters trade, I’d like to hit on a few things. First, Coach (Andy Reid) and I, we work for a great owner, a great organization. Clark (Hunt) has complete trust in Coach and I, our vision for this team and for the future. Certainly, there was never a mandate given to Coach and I, and certainly the anthem was never brought up in those discussions. I think at the end of the year what we do is Coach and I get together and we talk about our roster, players on our roster and whether it was Alex or Derrick or Marcus, we just trust our vision and there are tough decisions to be made. At the end of the day it was something that I thought was best for the football team. With that being said, I’m extremely excited to talk about the progress that we’ve made over the last three days. As you guys know we’ve agreed to terms with Anthony Sherman, Jarvis Jenkins, De’Anthony Thomas. Tenured **Terrance Smith and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. I feel like Dustin Colquitt is something that’s moving in a positive direction and that should be announced soon. And obviously we’re really excited to announce we’ve agreed to terms with Sammy Watkins and Anthony Hitchens, both players are on their way to Kansas City tonight. Look forward to meeting them and their families tomorrow and then they will be introduced to the media. We look forward to the future, we feel, Coach and I both feel that we’ve plotted course to turn a new chapter for this organization and we’re excited for OTA’s and we’re excited for the Draft and with that I’ll take your questions.”
Q: You said trading Marcus Peters was in the best interest of the Chiefs – why?
VEACH: “I think with every player, whether they’re here for a month, a year or two years, you just look at the full body of work, both on the field and off the field. What your goal is for the short and long term and there’s a lot of things. In this job, it’s not just the gamedays on Sundays. There’s a lot of information that we use in these decisions, they’re tough decisions. But you have to look into the mirror and make the decisions that are in the best interest of the team.”
Q: The trade would have happened if Marcus (Peters) stood for every anthem?
VEACH: “Yes absolutely. This was a football decision. Again, dialogue that Coach and I had. This wasn’t just one game, wasn’t a month, this was three years of body of work and we look for consistency. We felt that this was in the best interest of the team. When you process all the information, they’re tough decisions but what you do is you just go. There’s no second guessing. You make a decision you believe in, you have foundations and core philosophies that you believe that yield success. You take all the information and then you go in that direction and you don’t look back.”
Q: How much do you think about Marcus (Peters) being eligible for the extension and if you want to pay him or not?
VEACH: “You think of everything. You think of games, practices, certainly cap. We’re all aware that he was one year, 1.7 an option of 9. That’s two years, 10.7, potential of a franchise tag. All those factors. I think the moves that we’ve made over the last year shows that we’re very cap conscious and we know what we want to do in regards to building a roster and maintain flexibility throughout the course of a year, two years, three years. I think everything we do isn’t done for just one year. Even the deals we’ve done I think if you really look into the structure, everything provides flexibility. Every factor is taken into consideration.”
Q: With the trouble Marcus (Peters) had with coaches, does it feel like a failure that you weren’t able corral that in because he was very good on the field?
VEACH: “Yeah excellent player. I’ve had a lot of dialogue with Marcus. I’ve talked to Marcus many times throughout the course of the season, spoke to him after the trade. We joked about getting together when we play the (Los Angeles) Rams. It’s a learning experience for everybody and look we’ve had a lot of success with him. He’s done a lot of great things. Kid made two Pro Bowls, he’s going to do great things in L.A., happy for him, happy for his family. Again I think at the end of the day, I think everyone is where they need to be.”
Q: Was there a final straw with him, the rumors on the bus in New York with coaches?
VEACH: “Again, it’s a cumulative deal where you just process all the information and it’s not one thing, it’s not a final straw, it’s really Coach and I sitting back and looking at everything. We do this with all players, it’s not just Marcus. With Alex (Smith), tough decision. Derrick Johnson, tough decision. We just analyze the whole body of work for how long, the duration they were here and then we say okay, this is where we’re going and this is what needs to be done and you just go.”
Q: What was it like going through this process with Coach (Reid) for the first time?
VEACH: “I was in an enviable position because I had worked with Coach so we speak the same language. We have a bunch of differences, we see players differently a lot but we have trust. We know at the end of the day what’s best for the team and we have a plan, a vision and we know how to attack it and we know how to be aggressive about it.”
Q: How would you describe the relationship between Marcus (Peters) and Bob Sutton?
VEACH: “Can’t get into the details of it and honestly I didn’t sit in the meeting room with them for me to sit there and say exactly what it was. They made it work and every player is different and unique. I don’t think any coach comes into a staff room and everyone communicates the same way but they made it work and it was productive.”
Q: Will you change the way you deal with difficult personalities in the future?
VEACH: “I think, positive or negative, you are going to learn something. You are going to put that in your back pocket and you are going to remember certain—and this isn’t just about Marcus, it is about any player. You are going to have experiences during the draft process, during the acquisition process, during the free agency process. Processing background, injury history, all that kind of stuff. Every player is unique, every player is unique. You continue to learn and develop and that is what we will do.”
Q: What gives you confidence that Patrick Mahomes is ready for this moment?
VEACH: “And just to backtrack, what can you say about Alex Smith? You talk about a pro’s pro. The guy comes in here, 53 wins and back-to-back AFC West titles. Been around a long time in this game at all levels and he is a special person. Like you said, this was really more about Patrick. The kid has immense talent. I have said it before, I have said what I think about him after watching him on tape. They give you signs and signals that they are ready. Sure, there will be bumps along the road and there will be some growing pains. We made a move to go up and get him for a reason because his talent is unique and special. He is a special person. We are excited to give him some tools to work with and it is going to be a lot of fun next year. You have an innovative head coach and an innovative staff. You have a bunch of weapons and we are looking to have fun. And this is something for the fans, too. We have the best fans in the NFL and we want to go out there and put on a show. We want them to be excited and watch the scoreboard light up.”
Q: Was it important to get out ahead of the QB market with the Alex Smith trade?
VEACH: “I think our approach was we were decisive. We knew what we wanted to do. Kendall Fuller comes into play because we made a commitment to go in that direction. I don’t know if we necessarily wanted to get ahead of the market, but it was more in line that we knew exactly what we wanted and we wanted Kendall Fuller, and we wanted compensation for a quarterback. We knew what we wanted for Marcus, and we brought in Amerson, we brought in Fuller. We didn’t know that Sammy (Watkins) wasn’t going to get tagged. We flipped the script and when you are in this position, it is just contingency plan after contingency plan and you adapt and adjust and that is what we did. But we always know the direction we are going.”
Q: Were you one of the first teams to call Sammy Watkins?
VEACH: “I don’t know if we were the first team. We can’t talk to the representation until Monday, today is Wednesday. When that window opened up and we were allowed to reach his agent, they got a call right when the clock struck 11:01, maybe before that. If they did get a call, it is because someone called in 30 seconds before we did, but we were certainly one of the first for sure.”
Q: Would have you still signed Sammy Watkins if Alex Smith was your quarterback?
VEACH: “Well, I don’t know if we could afford him.”
Q: That issue aside?
VEACH: “It is interesting. And we will talk about this tomorrow, but when I took over in July, I got with Mike Borgonzi and the first call I made was to Dallas about Anthony Hitchens. We went into last camp and there is only so much you can do once you get to July. It is here. What can you do? There is not a lot of space and rosters are set. I knew that Derrick was coming off another injury and just knew that we would have some potential depth issues and some issues up there. We went through all the teams that had linebackers with one year left on their deal. Those are teams that if they haven’t reached a deal with their player, they are on their last year so maybe they will move them. You have to resign them and it is always dangerous in free agency. So we identified the Christian Kirkseys, the Preston Browns, the Anthony Hitchens. But the first call we made as a new staff was to Dallas, Will McClay, and we wanted Anthony Hitchens, but they said they weren’t going to move him. Then we went on and a month later when it was made aware that Sammy was going to be dealt from Buffalo, I talked to Brandon Beane about doing a trade. I remember being at St. Joe’s calling Brandon trying to get him there. Problem is, he wanted a (second round pick), and being a first year GM, then going into the draft without a (first round pick) or a (second round pick) I would have put myself in a bind. We offered a (third round pick) and it didn’t get it done. The Rams offered a (second round pick), but here we are full circle and the guys we signed were the guys, Anthony Hitchens who we called about first week on the job and then one of the first trade calls I made was to Brandon about Sammy. So, yeah, long winded answer, yeah. We would have liked to have had Sammy last year.”
Q: He seems like a good fit, particularly for Mahomes.
VEACH: “The thing about Sammy Watkins is he is a good fit for anybody. And don’t let the production fool you, if you watch the tape, the guy is open all the time. Literally, open on the time. You are talking about 6’0 and change, 4.38 (40-yard dash), tremendous hands, ball skills, really a refined player. There really isn’t anything you can’t do. Now, he had some injuries and bounced around a couple different places and sometimes it takes some time to develop a cohesive deal with the quarterback and the offense and the rhythm and the timing. You talk about a full offseason with this guy, it is going to be exciting. From a skill standpoint, he was the best player on our board in free agency. We felt when the free agency period, and it is still going on, but when we left that first down, leaving with all the information we had, we feel like we are leaving with the best player that was on the board overall. The best receiver, obviously. And on defense, Anthony Hitchens was a straight stud.”
Q: Was anything uncomfortable with Alex Smith this year with him knowing it was probably his last year?
VEACH: “That was the beauty of having a guy like Alex Smith. One of the things Coach and I talked about during the process and trading up for Patrick was a lot of teams go after—and there are a lot of ways you can attack this—but a lot of teams go to the end and then bring in a new quarterback. One of the values of Alex was, obviously a great player, all of the wins during his time here. But he is such a great teacher and a mentor. And because Alex was here was even more motivation to go up and get a young guy. Look, it is going to be a great situation. He is going to come into a franchise that knows how to win, a head coach that has coached a lot of good quarterbacks and then you are going to have the perfect mentor. I can’t speak for Alex, I know the competitor in all of us would have, but every day he was a pro’s pro. They had a great relationship and if you ask Alex or Pat, they still talk all the time today. That was unique and it was special. And that is what made Alex special. A lot of quarterbacks would tune the rookie out and make them take their own notes and not share information with them but that was not the case at all.”
Q: Patrick is the only quarterback you have on contract right now. What to you is the value of having a more experienced backup along with Patrick?
VEACH: “It’s extremely important. We’ve always had that here. We’ve had that with Nick Foles and Chase Daniel and I’m sure we’ll get something done soon.”
Q: You guys haven’t particularly valued inside linebackers very highly since Andy Reid got here, and maybe that had to do with John, but you guys are paying Hitchens more than you have paid an inside linebacker before. What is it about Hitchens that makes the value worth it for that position?
VEACH: “That linebacker market is a little weird. It’s one of the markets that has sort of remained stagnant over the years. You see all of these other positions kind of trend upwards but the linebacker has sort of remained stagnant. I think when you find and identify a young guy and a guy that can play on all three downs you need to be willing to commit to him. In his skillset a lot of guys are great dime, sub package linebackers that can run cover but they give up a little in regards to their overall size and ability to stack shed and play downhill. Then conversely, there are a lot of guys that are bigger, stronger, more stout but they’re a little limited in their ability to drop in coverage and play at a high level. But I think with Hitchens, he’s a guy that we thought he could do everything. If people say ‘No he’s a plugger like Reggie (Ragland)’ just watch him on tape. The guy can cover ground and he can flip hips and run.”
Q: How intriguing was the age of those players when deciding to give them the money you did. Watkins is only 24, Hitchens is only 25, next year or two years ago these guys still wouldn’t have hit their prime yet. When you’re making the decision to commit a lot of money how much does that go into it?
VEACH: “Yeah that’s certainly a big deal. It goes back to core philosophies and you have philosophies at every transactional period. So you have your philosophies in the draft and certainly you have your core philosophies and principles in the free agency period. One of those is the guys that are young, the guys that can grow and develop with your culture and with your vision for this team. This is a tough league and the more wear and tear you have the harder it is to produce and play. The younger you are the more juice you have. Those guys, like you said, would the level of interest have been the same if they were 30 years old? No for sure.”
Q: Back to the backup quarterback thing. Are there still options out there at this point? Did you put in a call to Chase Daniel?
VEACH: “Listen. We fully vet every situation and I can say that the quarterback position, judging by our track record here is not something we overlook. There were many calls out there and actually today just before I got here we had a lot of dialogue and I suspect something would get done soon here. Obviously nothing is official so I have nothing to say officially other than I’ve officially made calls to a lot of guys.”
Q: Dee Ford what’s his physical health like?
VEACH: “Dee’s doing very well. He had the back and I spoke to Rick (Burkholder) last week and I think he’s going to be 100% come April 1st so we should see him out there at OTAs. I actually saw him today in the locker room. He looks great and I think he’s going to have a big year. I really do.”
Q: On Dustin, you mentioned things were working the right way. It sounds like you guys would like to have him back at a lower cost, is that what you’re moving towards?
VEACH: “We’re more just working to reach a happy medium and I think that will get done probably tomorrow.”
Q: You talked about Hitchens as a three down guy. How does that affect Reggie? Do you see them on the field together?
VEACH: “Yeah, so what I think what you’ll see is Reggie and Hitchens in base and in nickel and then in dime Hitchens will probably stay on. It might get a little bit more exotic with your D-backs and what you do with them, they’re interchangeable. I think our mindset is: base Reggie and Hitchens, nickel Reggie and Hitchens and then dime Hitchens and interchangeable parts.”
Q: Tyrann Mathieu got cut today from the Cardinals and you guys have been very active this offseason in the secondary and Ron Parker’s gone. Do you maybe see a guy like that and see if you could get him on a cheaper deal would that be a guy you’d be interested in?
VEACH: “If we could make the money work sure. I have to give a lot of credit to the staff I have upstairs. We get in here early, we crank and we go through every scenario. There’s some scenarios out there that are straight wild and I’m like I can’t believe we thought of these things because they never happen but we do it and eventually our cap guys say there’s no way. So we throw a ton of information at these guys, they process it quickly and then we move on to the next thing. But we exhaust ideas and options that maybe are completely unrealistic or maybe have a 1% chance of ever happening, but we’ll still exhaust it to see if it could happen. But sure that would be another one that maybe we’ve exhausted already.”
Q: If you could make an overall statement of your direction, your drive, your actions, your attitude that you’ve taken this offseason, what would it be?
VEACH: “Just to win a Super Bowl. We’re doing everything we can to win a Super Bowl. We’re not trying to win a Super Bowl four years from now, we’re going out there and we’re trying to win a Super Bowl next year. Whether that happens I don’t know but I know that we’re going to do everything we can to put our team and our roster in a position to do so. If we have shortcomings we’ll continue to work on those things. Our mindset is at every period to get our team in a position to win a Super Bowl. We have a lot of talent here. It’s a lot of young talent which is exciting for the fans, but we realize there may be some growing pains but we have guys that can straight up play football and they’re exciting. I think our fans are going to love the product we produce.”
Q: Is this your personality? I’ve heard it said a million times for a young GM usually they spend a year getting their feet wet and they’re not aggressive, they don’t mess with the quarterback. Well you broke those rules right?
VEACH: “I’ve been fortunate to work with some really good people coming up at every level from high school to college to the pros. I think I’ve always been around very innovative and very motivated people and they’ve certainly rubbed off on me. I think the one thing that you have to have in this position is just being aware and being decisive. I think I have a staff that kind of falls in line with that. I think all of our guys are aware of different options and again I think we see something and we attack it. We’ll continue to do so.”
Q: How much fun has this been for you?
VEACH: “It’s been a lot of fun. I’m excited for the draft. What I’m really excited about is to get back on the road and get to these pro days. I’ve been cooped up in the room. There’s a lot of things we had to get done whether it be press conferences or free agent calls or talking to players. I’m excited to get back on the road and hit some pro days up and I’m excited for the draft. Who knows maybe we’ll get back in the first round before it’s all said and done.”
Q: At this point can you say you feel comfortable that Dee Ford will be a on this team this year?
VEACH: “Yea I do. We believe in Dee and I think I said this at the Combine. That was a situation where Dee’s had some ups and downs and again a year or two ago he had that three or four game stretch where he was on a tear and he had some setbacks physically. But again the guy’s in tremendous shape, he’s extremely explosive and our intention is that we’re going to score a lot of points this year and he’s going to have a lot of chances to get to the quarterback.”
Q: You spoke about Coach’s creativity on offense. The skilled position group the guys you have with Tyreek (Hill), Sammy, Patrick, Kareem Hunt all those guys who are 25 years old or younger, Kelce’s the older guy at 28. How excited are you as a whole about what that group can do and what Coach Reid can do with that group?
VEACH: “I’m extremely excited and also thinking about what we said about Sammy having an offseason here. Sammy went to LA and helped them achieve great things in that offense and keep in mind that he got there like a week before the season started. There’s a lot of dialogue, a lot of verbiage, a lot of intricacies of an offense that you throw someone out there it’s hard. Yet he was still able to go out there, produce and do some great things. Imagine him coming here and we have the whole offseason and he can just absorb everything and go out there and play fast. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think the sky’s the limit with this and that’s the way we kind of viewed it.”