The Chiefs are going to be without a few players this upcoming season due to COVID-19 and with that, there will be players and personnel that will benefit. On the other hand, there will be some that will not benefit. We take a look at those particulars here.
Thus far the Chiefs have had three players opt-out of the upcoming season due to the pandemic. Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff won’t be participating this season to fight the pandemic first-hand in the medical field, and Damien Williams and Lucas Niang are opting out for personal reasons.
These are gaps the Chiefs will have to fill collectively, but I think they are very manageable given the construction of the current roster. Let’s take a look at some people who will benefit from these opt-outs and some who will not.
Let’s start with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Obviously the rookie RB will benefit from Damien Williams not playing this season as he is the clear front-runner for the starting job come the season opener. I think the Chiefs also are going to benefit from this too because Edwards-Helaire fits perfectly for what Kansas City does offensively.
Also, Edwards-Helaire has the potential to be one of the more dynamic RBs in the NFL given his skill set. Let’s not forget, Andy Reid is on the record saying that he thinks Edwards-Helaire is better than Brian Westbrook. That is some high praise. Look for the rookie to be a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate because of the opt-out of Williams.
The next winner is the undrafted free agent class. The three players that have opted-out for the Chiefs were pretty much guaranteed to make the roster to start the year. This now opens up three spots on the active roster for guys that maybe were on the outside looking in. Guys like Yasir Durant and Darryl Williams are major benefactors too because now the Chiefs are looking for two offensive line positions to fill.
I thought both of those players had a great chance of making the roster, but I think it is almost a shoo-in that they both make the roster now. The Chiefs had a great undrafted free agent class and now they get to keep a couple more guys they might not have had the chance to if those three players didn’t opt-out.
Lastly, the next winner is the Chiefs 2020 salary cap. Given the circumstances with the pandemic, I believe cap space is going to be very important for this season. The Chiefs are now projected to have $13 million in cap space this season.
This is a major win for Kansas City because you never know who might get hurt, have more opt-outs, or players that end up with COVID-19, and you have to have cap space to be able to spend to potentially acquire more talent. This helps the Chiefs if they want to go after any remaining free agents that are still available during the season as well.
Now that we have taken a look at some winners due to the opt-outs, let’s take a look at some losers from them.
The first loser that comes to mind is the offensive line. With LDT out this season, the Chiefs are going to have to replace him with a potentially inexperienced replacement. As we all know, it is so important for the offensive line to be a cohesive unit given they have their own checks at the line of scrimmage and have to know their own assignments each and every play.
I don’t think this will be a big issue given the leadership and coaching the Chiefs have in place, but at the beginning of the season this could potentially be a sore spot for the offense.
I definitely believe this to be true in the case of Damien Williams as well. It might take a game or two for Edwards-Helaire to get in the swing of things as far as the offense goes. I do think he is the better RB ultimately, but you never know what to expect from a rookie right out of the gate, especially in an unusual offseason. The speed of the NFL and the physicality will all take some getting used to for the rookie RB.
Given that all of the opt-outs thus far are only on the offensive side of the ball makes this super manageable for the Chiefs. By far the best offensive unit in the NFL has the pieces and depth to make these losses sustainable.
When you draft an RB in the 1st round that fits your offense perfectly and you invest draft capital in the offensive line you can handle these situations. Obviously having Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes makes any loss more manageable.
The Chiefs will be more than okay, even though it will be different not seeing some of those players suited up each week. Look for the Chiefs to hit the ground running week one, ready to repeat as Super Bowl champions once again.