With less than four weeks until the start of training camp, the Chiefs roster looks to be fairly complete. There are a couple positions with depth concerns. We look around the league to see if any former roster members could make this current Chiefs roster and even more tenacious.
It is well documented the overhaul the Chiefs have completed this offseason along the offensive line, including the release of the aforementioned Mitchell Schwartz in March with fellow tackle stalwart Eric Fisher. The move to release Fisher and Schwartz was purely financially motivated, freeing up nearly ten million in cap space. The concerns out there are health and fit.
We have to be concerned that a former All-Pro that started 122 straight over eight seasons hasn’t signed somewhere, anywhere yet this offseason. He’s 32 years old coming off a rather major back surgery, yet no one has taken a flier. When healthy, and I can’t expect Mitchell Schwartz to ever be 100% his former self, he is one of the top three right tackles in all of football.
With the injury to Kyle Long looming and creating depth concerns to the right side of the line, who out there in Chiefs kingdom wouldn’t take an 80% Mitchell Schwartz and add to the depth of our obnoxiously full offensive line room? If he can be cleared medically and if the money can make sense, this move just seems like a no-brainer for the Chiefs offense.
It’s safe to assume that Frank Clark will be suspended for some games for his arrest on gun charges, twice. Many Chiefs fans were not ready to see Houston go after the Chiefs released him in early 2019, so a homecoming will allow many to rejoice in the Kingdom. Even without the knucklehead move by Clark, there was reason to be concerned about the Chiefs pass rush coming into 2021.
Clark has not lived up to contract, Taco Charlton is coming off a significant injury, Mike Danna had a surprising rookie campaign but is still unproven, and rookie Joshua Kaindoh is a project. There is just a lot of uncertainty in the position. Adding a veteran presence like Justin Houston seems like a smart move.
I understand signing a 32-year-old heading into his eleventh NFL season is a risk, but Houston started all 32 regular-season games in his two years in Indianapolis and was rather productive. He collected 69 tackles and 19 sacks in his two seasons. His eight sacks last season would have led the roster in Kansas City. I think Justin Houston instantly makes the defensive line and this roster as a whole better.
The Chiefs are trying to be creative at the defensive end position currently both Chris Jones and Tershawn Wharton are listed as D-Ends, we will see if that holds up after training camp and the preseason. It is, in my opinion, the veteran defensive end/pass rusher market will open up as we inch closer to the start of the season and a reunion with Justin Houston looks imminent.
I feel far too many people are overlooking the lack of proven depth in our cornerback room. Don’t get me wrong, I like the players individually. I’m higher than most on Charvarious Ward, I think his 2020 decline was an aberration and we will see a bounce back.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’m concerned about how quickly L’Jarious Sneed has become CB1 in the minds of all of Kansas City. Rashad Fenton plays well enough in the slot but doesn’t exactly fit on the outside and Deandre Baker and Mike Hughes have enough question marks to their names to raise concerns. I feel the Chiefs are one or two injuries away from having one of the worst secondaries in all the NFL.
I was wrong in thinking that it was a forgone conclusion that the Chiefs were going to bring back Bashaud Breeland. There is still time for the Chiefs to bring in another free agent, Steven Nelson and Richard Sherman are still unsigned. Let’s go to the hypothetical world that the Ravens want to make the Chiefs even better and trade Marcus Peters for a third and sixth-round pick in 2022.
There are some very strong opinions of the character of Peters, those can be easily squashed with the leadership of Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary. With the addition of Peters, a perceived liability becomes a strength, Sneed in the slot and Ward on the outside opposite of Peters with backups of Fenton, Baker, and Hughes. There is flexibility and depth there, with the additional game in 2021 those two things have a higher value than seasons before. Say what you want about Peters, he would add exceptional coverage skill this secondary desperately needs.
This list wasn’t as easy as I’d originally expected. The Chiefs and Brett Veach have done an exceptional job of retaining any player that plays a vital role. That speaks volumes to the culture that has been built in Kansas City. Let me know what you think of the list and feel free to throw some names out there.