In back-to-back regular-season finales have seen defensive backs for the Chiefs suffer season-ending injuries.
Last season, the Chiefs lost rookie safety Juan Thornhill to a torn ACL in Week 17. This season the Chiefs again lost a piece to their secondary in their regular season finale.
Covering a deep route, second-year cornerback Deandre Baker broke his left femur and needed to be carted off the field. Baker will miss the remainder of the season.
In Thornhill’s case, he also had to miss the playoffs but was replaced with safeties Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts. The Chiefs shouldn’t need to adjust as much to Baker’s injury since he only started in the regular-season finale.
Losing both of these young assets at the same time is alarming. Though injuries happen all the time, a team wants to be full-strength for its playoff push, especially when you have a huge target on your back being the defending champs like the Chiefs.
Next season, it is likely the NFL will expand the regular season from 16 to 17 games. This could be a cause for concern given the two late injuries sustained to Thornhill and Baker over the last two seasons.
Though Baker just got his first career start, his potential is comparable to any cornerback in the league. With being a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Baker has shown the talent to be successful.
Baker was awarded the Jim Thorpe award in 2018, given to a top collegiate cornerback. Along with the award, Baker was a consensus All-American.
Given recent injury history, the team may be more cautious around playing key players in these kinds of games. If the Chiefs can clinch their bye before the regular season ends, don’t be surprised if the entire starting secondary unit sits out until the playoffs.