The Chiefs come into the season with 18 of 22 SuperBowl starters returning to this year’s team, which is a solid number, to say the least. A number that is ever-changing however throughout the season, due to injuries and especially this season with the omnipresent COVID-19 hanging over everyone’s head. Here are some potential difference makers that could put the Chiefs over the top and back in the big game come February.
Adrian Peterson- RB- Washington Football Team
In the league’s most high flying offense, there are few spots for holes. If you look really close, you can spot them in the running game, which finished 23rdin the league last year with 98.1 yards per game. And the Chiefs lost last year’s starter, Damien Williams, who opted out to care for his mother.
While they addressed this in the first round of the draft by selecting RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, there is still a need for a big power back in the Kansas City backfield. The Chiefs, who have shown a propensity for taking low risk-high reward situations on aging backs in the past with LeSean McCoy, could use a back who can still provide the punch on short-yardage plays and take the ball from Patrick Mahomes.
AP has remained effective into his 30’s, averaging 4.3 yards a carry last year. The Washington Football Team picked up his option for this year, with a reasonable $2.25 million salary. As AP sees his carries in Washington reduced, I’m sure he would be on board for one last shot at a SuperBowl title to spell Clyde Edwards-Helaire on runs up the gut, and who knows he could provide a veteran presence for the rookie RB to learn from.
Leonard Fournette- RB- Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette is coming off one of his best seasons in the NFL, rushing for 1,152 yards and racking up 76 catches for 522 yards. And after claiming he wanted out of Jacksonville last year, this trade rumor has been persisting since 2019. But the Jaguars had the price set too high for Fournette, and after a miserable season last year, one can only hope they have lowered the tag that they will want in return for Fournette.
As stated earlier, there are few holes to be found on this Kansas City offense, but if you look, power running is one of them. They have the Alvin Kamara-style back with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but why not add a little thunder to his lightning out of the KC backfield.
This one will depend heavily on Jacksonville and what they are asking for in return for Fournette’s services, but after not picking up his 5thyear option for 2021, they look as if they are ready to move on from the former LSU running back.
A former LSU running back, where have I heard that one before?
Well, the Chiefs have one in their first-round pick this season, something the running backs can bond over, tales of college hijinks. And the Chiefs could cut ties with Fournette after this season, as he is only due $4.16 million this year and is set to become a free agent after that. Perfect for a mid-season improvement in the 3rdand short category.
Malik Hooker- S- Indianapolis Colts
There was a persisting rumor that Malik Hooker was on Indianapolis’ trade block before the draft. The Colts then proceeded to not pick up his 5thyear option. The former 15th overall pick in the 2017 draft has shown a penchant for playing well, when healthy, in the past three seasons.
It has just been the healthy part that has given him issues, with Hooker missing 14 games in those three years. Hooker is only 24 years old, and KC GM Brett Veach has shown he likes adding former first-round draft picks in the past, taking a chance on Reggie Ragland.
Hooker could add some depth to the KC defensive backfield, opening up all-pro Tyrann Mathieu to play more as a swiss army defensive back as opposed to having his penciled into just the strong safety spot.
And with Juan Thornhill coming back from a knee injury and Bashaud Breeland’s four-game suspension, the DB room needs all the depth it can get. It sounds like Hooker may be available for a decent price, and if so, the Chiefs should strike while the iron is hot, especially if he can remain healthy into the early part of this season.
Colts GM Chris Ballard seems ready to move on from Hooker, saying “Malik was solid, wouldn’t say he was great… And I thought he tailed off a bit there at the end” to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder. The Colts have put a for sale sign in the lawn, and the Chiefs should be monitoring this situation this season.
Denzel Perryman- LB- Los Angeles Chargers
The position group the Chiefs still have to fill out is the Linebacking core, who lost Reggie Ragland to free agency this year and is returning the pricey Anthony Hitchens, underachieving Darius Harris, 2019 addition Damien Wilson, and young playmaker Ben Niemann as well as using the second round of this draft on Mississippi State LB Willie Gay Jr.
This leaves the starter beside Anthony Hitchens still up in the air at the moment, and the Chiefs need to address this with another veteran presence who can take the young Willie Gay Jr. under his wing and show him the ropes in his rookie season.
Trading in the division is always tough, you rarely get a good deal out of a division opponent, but the Chargers have shown the ability to swap in division swiping Chris Harris Jr. from Denver and letting Melvin Gordon sign with Denver this offseason.
And they just so happen to have an overabundance of talent at LB after trading up in the draft to take Kenneth Murray in the first round and signed veteran Nick Vigil from the Bengals this offseason, essentially phasing Perryman out of his starting spot in the rotation in LA.
Maybe the Chargers would be up for dealing Perryman this year? He is only 26 at this point in his career and still has plenty of solid production ahead of him should the Chiefs decide to make a move for him.
Raekwon McMillan- LB- Miami Dolphins
Another team with an overabundance of talent at the Linebacking spot is the Miami Dolphins. Under head coach Brian Flores’ new more aggressive scheme, the Dolphins added division pal Kyle Van Noy from the Patriots, as well as a couple of other lesser-known LB’s in Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill, putting the talent at LB on the verge of overflowing.
If the 23-year-old McMillan can stay healthy this season, the Chiefs should have their eyes on him, especially after losing 2019 Edge rusher Emmanuel Ogbah to the Dolphins this offseason. McMillan could add some young depth to a Chiefs linebacking core that is in desperate need of just that, depth.
If McMillan can stay healthy and in the Dolphins LB rotation this year, that would bode well for the third-year player out of Ohio State. Just another option to consider for the depth and talent pool here in Kansas City.