If we polled all 32 clubs on what quarterback they'd choose today to build their franchise around, MVP Patrick Mahomes and Offensive Rookie of the Year runner-up Baker Mayfield undoubtedly would be popular choices.
The common denominator in the acquisition of both quarterbacks is John Dorsey, whose Cleveland Browns have had as explosive an offseason as any team in the NFL, while his former club, the Kansas City Chiefs, have endured a rocky few months since their crushing OT loss in the AFC title game.
The question, then, is whether the Chiefs' current issues offer any cautionary tales for Browns fans finally looking forward to their football future and whether Kansas City will alter its approach under Andy Reid and Brett Veach in light of its current situation, which has Dorsey's fingerprints all over it.
Tyreek Hill investigation
There was a handful of notable news stories across the league this weekend, including the Dolphins' commitment to tank leading them to Ryan Fitzpatrick and potential top-10 pick Montez Sweat reportedly getting flagged at the combine with a preexisting-existing heart condition. Yet none could create the ripple effects of the story that broke Friday evening.
Hours after the NFL announced an eight-game personal conduct suspension for ex-Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt, the Kansas City Star first reported that All Pro WR Tyreek Hill is under investigation for alleged battery against his three-year-old son, who suffered a broken arm. No charges have been filed against Hill, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to domestic assault and battery by strangulation against his then-pregnant girlfriend, Crystal Espinal, listed on the current investigation's police report along with their son under "others involved."
Because of Hill's background and the precedent the Chiefs recently set by cutting Hunt in the immediate aftermath of a video in which he shoved and kicked a woman being released by TMZ, Hill's future in Kansas City — pending the outcome of this investigation — has to be considered murky at best. That's a dramatic turn from the Chiefs reportedly being deep in extension talks recently to make arguably the game's most electrifying playmaker on offense among the NFL's highest-paid wideouts.
Dorsey's affinity for taking chances on known problem children is well-documented. Though Hunt didn't have a history of domestic violence, the only reason that Hill, one of the more explosive playmakers in the 2016 draft, fell to Round 5, fellow Dorsey pick Marcus Peters was traded last offseason for a pittance because his past issues reappeared in the NFL. Demarcus Robinson and Travis Kelce are among the other Dorsey Chiefs draft selections with prior off-field red flags.
And we're clearly seeing a similar approach in Cleveland, where Dorsey pounced first on the chance to sign Hunt, one year after drafting Antonio Callaway despite multiple off-field arrests and two years after selecting Caleb Brantley with an arrest on charges of misdemeanor battery unresolved (these charges were ultimately dropped because of insufficient evidence).
To be absolutely clear: Among Dorsey's additions so far this offseason, Sheldon Richardson's past legal issues have been non-violent and Odell Beckham Jr., for all the questions centered on his maturity, has never run afoul of the law. So we're not making any direct comparisons so much as we're pointing out the volatility that helps define Dorsey's preferred roster-building methods.
In addition to the legal issues that led to Hunt's abrupt ouster and could do the same for Hill, the Chiefs' offseason cap issues led to the releases of Justin Houston and Eric Berry, the exit of top remaining free agent, CB Steven Nelson, and the trade of franchise pass rusher Dee Ford. Of course, Dorsey was still in the Chiefs front office when the deals for Houston and Berry, among others, were done, and his successor, Brett Veach, recently alluded to the cap constraints facing the team.
"So, I think you start with the cap and, again, they're tough decisions, but I think it's something that — looking toward not just next season, but the next two, three, four and five years — if you're not proactive in your approach, then you're always chasing your tail and you're always in a position where you don't have draft capital or cap space."
Dorsey has done a magnificent job finding talent — and clearly not just at quarterback — but not nearly as well in finding ways to maintain his rosters. It'll be fascinating to see how his Browns juggle the huge cap challenges associated with the big deals of Beckham and Oliver Vernon that Dorsey inherited and the first few he oversaw (including those of Jarvis Landry and Chris Hubbard).
The early returns suggest the Chiefs under Reid and Veach share Dorsey's risk propensity when signing free agents, if not touting themselves as second-chance haven. It was easy to gloss over because of Mahomes' coming-out party and Reid's historic offense, but the Sammy Watkins deal last offseason (three-year, $48 million including $30 million GTD) was nothing if not a huge risk. Watkins predictably didn't live up to it, but it didn't matter because of the ridiculous production from up and down the Chiefs attack.
The Chiefs could need a whole lot more out of Watkins this season if Hill is out of the picture.
Similarly, the Tyrann Mathieu deal last week (three-year, $42 million including $26.8 million GTD) for an undersized kamikaze defensive back with two recent ACL reconstructions could be a home run but also falls squarely in the giant-leap-of-faith category.
If these two market-tilting deals for volatile players being entrusted with huge responsibility backfire, it could create a domino effect for the Chiefs — with or without Mahomes, the ultimate NFL trump card as an elite passer only entering Year 2 of his rookie deal.
For the Browns, our attention turns squarely to rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens. Dorsey had an invaluable layer of insurance while willingly adding all of the explosiveness to the Chiefs — Reid.
In Kitchens, Dorsey tabbed a 44-year-old with less than eight games of coordinating experience and zero head coaching credentials. The type of early tone he and fellow relatively inexperienced coordinators Steve Wilks and Todd Monken set on Day 1 is critical. Can they earn instant respect, the kind that helps unpredictable players fall — and stay — in line?
Few will argue at this point that the Browns have one of the more talented rosters in football. They're also one of the more unpredictable, built by a man in Dorsey who wouldn't have it any other way.