The Chiefs have won a championship, and will compete for more titles due to their success with these under-the-radar free agency acquisitions this offseason.
After hosting their first AFC Championship game in the franchise’s history, the Chiefs felt changes and additions were needed to get them over the hump to become world champions.
This started on defense, which was one of the worst in the NFL in the 2018 season. This led to a drastic change that needed to be made. First was the firing of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, followed by veteran pieces Eric Berry and Justin Houston being released in March 2019, along with Dee Ford being traded to the San Fransico 49ers.
This led to holes needing to be filled at safety and defensive end. The Chiefs did just that, notably signing safety Tyrann Mathieu to a three-year deal, then trading draft picks to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for Frank Clark.
Despite these deals being amongst the most known and appreciated additions, the Chiefs have acquired several pieces in free agency that are relevant to the Chiefs’ recent Super Bowl title and competitiveness in the future.
Defensive end Alex Okafor is another vital defensive piece for the Chiefs. Okafor signed a three-year deal in March 2019. Playing with Clark and defensive tackle Chris Jones led Okafor to a five sack season, the second-highest season total in his career despite a season-ending pectoral tear against the Denver Broncos in Week 15.
Okafor has proven to be a contributor on the defensive line, which will not be easy for opposing offensive lines that also must scheme for Jones and Clark. This will allow the combination of the three to play off each other, but the Chiefs were not done stacking talent on their defensive line.
This offseason, defensive end Taco Charlton was signed to a one-year contract. You may remember the former Michigan Wolverine for his amazing first name, or you may from the 2017 NFL Draft in which he was drafted in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Charlton was pretty mundane in his first two seasons. He played in 27 games, started only seven and totaled four sacks in that time. Once the Cowboys released him, the Miami Dolphins signed him and Charlton showed light in his career.
Charlton recorded five sacks last season, a career-high for him. If Charlton can show that same level of production with the Chiefs, he will get meaningful reps in games to help alleviate the pressure and focus put on Clark and Jones.
Besides Mathieu, the Chiefs have used free agency to upgrade their secondary. In April, the Chiefs resigned Bashaud Breeland to a one-year contract after his solo campaign with the team.
Breeland started 15 games last season, which provided structure to a secondary that has struggled in recent memory prior to his arrival. Along with 15 starts, Breeland intercepted two passes with eight deflections in the regular season.
Despite this, Breeland must serve a four-game suspension due to an off-field incident in South Carolina, which led to him being arrested. The starting corner will be missed, however, only four games will not be unbearable for the defending champions.
For special teams, the Chiefs have been fortunate, especially in the kicking game. When Cairo Santos tore his ACL and got waived from Kansas City in September 2017, a new kicker was needed, and quickly.
Insert Harrison Butker, who has proved to be one of the best kickers in the league. The seventh-round pick by the Carolina Panthers was placed on their practice squad prior to the Chiefs signing him.
Butker has been active and consistent for the Chiefs, kicking an 89% for field goals and 95% for his extra-point attempts. The Chiefs get an A+ for this addition, having a kicker you can rely on can be the difference between a playoff birth and sitting at home come playoff time.
The Chiefs have built a talented roster, with many notable players that have been acquired, but general manager Brett Veach and the rest of the front office have effectively used their cap space to spend on free agents that are capable of starting and immediately contributing.