The Chiefs have dabbled in almost every position during free agency and have come away with a few key additions, but with the inclusion of these new players comes expectations…and some players have higher ones than others
Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs have attacked this wacky free agency period with serious bravado, even going as far as to text pictures of the Lombardi trophy to JuJu Smith-Schuster (and other free agents I’m sure). The additions that eventually signed have come with their own prices and expectations.
Up to this point in the offseason the Chiefs have handed out 17 contracts, four of them have gone to players that were on different teams last season, and for the most part they have signed offensive pieces to help QB Patrick Mahomes return to the level of excellence he has shown he is capable of.
All of these new pieces come with hope and an optimistic mindset but, as the NFL goes, some players don’t always live up to the expectations after signing with a new team. So what should the Chiefs’ new additions (especially on offense) be expected to bring this upcoming season? Well, below are some expectations that Chiefs fans and coaches should equally be looking to see from the new names gracing the famed red-and-yellow jerseys.
FB Michael Burton
Burton has been quite the journeyman throughout his first six seasons after being drafted in the 5th round by Detroit in 2015. He’s been in Chicago, Washington, and most recently he was blocking for the ever-dangerous Alvin Kamara in New Orleans who scored 17 rushing TDs last season (incl. postseason) which was T-1st with Derrick Henry.
Burton’s expectations on his one-year, $990,000 deal are simple enough but will most likely be difficult to execute if he is not extremely prepared for every single situation that head coach Andy Reid is most likely going to put him in. The first expectation is that Burton will bring the same vigor and ferocity that he had blocking for “AK41” to Kansas City, where he will be expected to give 2nd-year RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire wide open avenues to run through.
Not only will he be expected to pave the way for Edwards-Helaire but he will likely be used heavily in the pass blocking aspect of the game, especially in the earlier parts of the season when the newly-configured offensive line is working out the kinks. Burton has never been a huge rushing or receiving threat, only bringing in 29 rushing yards on 15 attempts and 96 total yards on 15 receptions (incl. postseason) with one of them being a TD, but he is a disruptive blocker and a heavy hitter on special teams.
Burton has collected a total of13 tackles and a fumble recovery on special teams and his one year in New Orleans saw him largely put on display in that area of the game playing 29% of the ST snaps, all of which shows promise for Anthony Sherman’s likely replacement.
TE Blake Bell
Bell has already been a Chief once before, helping Kansas City reach and win their first Super Bowl in 50 years just two seasons ago, so his relationship with the team is likely going to look similar to the way it did before the 2020 season.
Not only does Bell have ties to Reid’s Chiefs, like his go-ahead TD (above) in the comeback win against Houston two postseasons ago, but he also hails from Wichita, KS and his father, Mike Bell, was a defensive end for Kansas City from 1979-1991.
Blake Bell’s expectations are very parallel to his expectations from his one year in KC as well as his other seasons spanning across San Francisco, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and most recently Dallas–namely, to block the hell out of opposing defensive pressures, and to be ready to catch the ball when his number is called.
That’s not anything outside the lines of a normal expectation for a backup tightend but Bell has been in this offense before and will be expected to immediately bring the same level of play and football knowledge that he did to the Super Bowl Champions two seasons ago. If he does so then who knows, maybe the Chiefs can go 2-for-2 in Super Bowls with Bell on the team…he might just be the magic touch.
C Austin Blythe
Blythe’s time in Los Angeles with the Rams included 52 consecutive starts (34 as RG and 18 at C) and a Super Bowl appearance, both of which are appealing for the Chiefs who are trying their hardest to reconstruct the misshaped offensive line that showed up in Super Bowl LV.
His expectation is simple: beat out Nick Allegretti for the position of starter (both of which have extensive wrestling histories) and protect Mahomes in the upcoming season. After his consistency and reliability in Los Angeles, the Chiefs are simply hoping for a full season–and postseason–from their center, a strong connection with Mahomes as well as the rest of the team, and a seamless transition to RG if need-be (hopefully that is not needed though).
The job of the center is the same all over the league, make the connection and block as best you can against the defensive line and inside linebackers, if Blythe can do that as well as he did in LA then he will be a fine addition that could stay longer than his one-year deal signifies.
LG Joe Thuney
Right off the bat, Thuney’s five-year, $80 million deal is going to hail larger expectations than the previous players mentioned strictly due to the enormous pay-out that Thuney will be receiving over the next half decade. Thuney’s time in New England over the past five years has shown how important he is and how reliable he can be. He’s started over 97% of the offensive snaps in every season since he was drafted in 2016 and has only allowed three sacks in the last three seasons.
Mahomes got “exposed” in the Super Bowl with the play of his offensive line, Thuney simply needs to prove that the most recent game in Tampa was a fluke and that the LG position will be solid for years to come. His expectations? Don’t allow any sacks. Don’t let Mahomes even hit the ground too hard. Don’t let defenders past you consistently, even if the run game is thriving and defenders reaching the backfield is not as problematic as normal.
Thuney needs to mirror his 2018 season where he played over 1,100 snaps and allowed ZERO sacks (according to PFF). If he can do that then he will be worth the $17 million signing bonus and the biggest contract of the offseason for Kansas City (who started the offseason with a very poor cap situation) so far.
The Chiefs have achieved minimal results in the free agency market by only adding four players from other teams (up to now) but their re-signing of players like Byron Pringle, Andrew Wylie, Darrel Williams and Mike Remmers show that the Chiefs are set in their ways and like who they have in their pocket right now. Also, the draft is two weeks away and there are still plenty of players left in free agency that the Chiefs can pick up–including, possibly, Ravens T Orlando Brown–but at the moment the expectations are not extremely high for most of the outside signings, mainly due to their one-year deals.
With these offensive pieces being thrown onto a team that has been to two straight Super Bowls it will be interesting to see how they fit and how they all perform in their respective roles.