With the trade deadline ten days away, the Chiefs have to find someone that can help boost their defense in any way possible. But with the barely any cap space remaining in KC’s wallet, what can be done to make this a Super Bowl defense?
Kansas City’s defensive mishaps have been one of the main narratives around the league during the first six games of the season, typically when discussing the odds (+700) of the Chiefs making the Super Bowl compared to the preseason (+500), but who could be brought in from another team before the trade deadline?
Steve Spagnuolo, in his third season as Defensive Coordinator, has only produced six turnovers (T-5th worst) and has only produced 1.2 sacks per game (worst in NFL). To make matters worse the defense cannot seem to get opposing teams off the field seeing as they allow over 45% of third-down plays to be converted (4th-worst) and 75% of fourth downs to be converted (also 4th-worst).
What can be done this far into the 2021-22 regular season?
Currently, Kansas City has the 6th-least amount of cap space remaining ($2,272,122) and a glaring hole on defense that could be patched up if the right players are brought in.
With the trade deadline right around the corner (November 2nd @ 2 P.M. CT) there is plenty of time for GM Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid to pick and choose certain Chiefs players that could be used as trade assets to be sent off for a key contributor or two in order to improve the pass rush (34% success rate–T-3rd worst) and the defense overall.
Players that immediately bring starting talent like former Houston Texans LB Whitney Mercilus who turned down more money, reportedly from KC, in order to play with defending NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
And while Mercilus would’ve been a great snag for Veach it now comes down to teams who are down on their luck and what those teams are willing to take for valuable players on their defense.
No matter what the Chiefs end up doing up until November 2nd they will need to eventually focus on bolstering the defensive line and overall pass rush that has not evolved like Spagnuolo and Reid have hoped for.
OLB Trey Flowers – Detroit Lions
The Chiefs have invested heavily in the future of their linebacker core with two early picks over the past two drafts being dedicated to Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr.
So far Bolton has provided plenty of toughness and leads all rookies in tackles so far this season (40), but Gay Jr. has been plagued with injuries since the last year’s postseason which has kept him off the field for four out of the Chiefs’ six games.
Flowers is only 28 years old and has already won two Super Bowls with the Patriots (’16, ’18) so his “runway” still has plenty of years left and his postseason experience alone is enough to catch Reid and Spagnuolo’s eyes…the only problem is his contract which has two years/$32 million left on it.
Detroit is 0-6 and likely looking at the #1 or #2 overall pick in the upcoming draft so they are most likely going to be shipping off players left and right before the deadline in order to help hoard draft picks and pray for the future.
The good news is the Chiefs have picks in every round except the fifth (thanks to the Orlando Brown Jr. trade) in this upcoming draft so they hypothetically could spare some but with the limited cap space that they have they would want to give up someone like CB DeAndre Baker or maybe even a WR like Demarcus Robinson–who turned down a deal with Detroit this past offseason–in order to help the cap.
In his seven years in the NFL, he has accrued 10 forced fumbles (one so far this season), 37 total sacks (also one so far this season), 45 tackles for losses, and over 290 total tackles so needless to say he would be a generous asset to the Chiefs’ defense.
But, would Trey Flowers be worth a first or second-round pick?
Perhaps, but one thing is for sure: this defense wouldn’t be any worse with Flowers on the field.
CBs Noah Igbinoghene or Xavien Howard – Miami Dolphins
Miami has been the definition of disappointment so far this season. They’ve lost five straight, including games against Jacksonville and Indianapolis, and currently sit at the bottom of the AFC East at 1-5.
With all that in mind, it would make sense that 3rd-year head coach Brian Flores would begin a fire sale that could help him land Deshaun Watson or another high-powered QB that may be on the market this offseason like Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garropolo, and (maybe) Russell Wilson.
So that would mean that their All-Pro CB Xavien Howard, who requested a trade earlier this season and was inquired about by teams back in July, could easily be on the trading block.
Howard would immediately help the Chiefs with their terrible turnover margin (-8) which sits at second-worst in the league behind the Jaguars (-10) who just won their first game of the season on a neutral field on a last-second field goal.
Meanwhile, Igbinoghene has only been in the league for one year and has been a healthy scratch for four games so far this season due to the Dolphins’ depth at CB and the money they have invested in their secondary (25.66% of their cap) as well.
The Dolphins would want a huge haul for Howard, and rightfully so, because the 2nd-round pick has done serious damage since entering the league in 2016. His 10 interceptions and 20 deflected passes last season were the most by any player in the league and his 23 INTs since 2017 are the most by a single player in that time span.
Kansas City would have to give up much less for Igbinoghene, perhaps a couple of draft picks or a late-round pick with a player. Possibly a player like center Austin Blythe who came to KC this past offseason from L.A. but has been inactive this whole season due to the stellar play by rookie Creed Humphrey who is PFF’s highest-graded rookie at any position in the whole league (85.2).
Either of these Miami defensive backs would get serious playing time if they came to Kansas City, and both would be a great addition to this Chiefs defense that is looking to get younger and faster.
- RB Marlon Mack – Indianapolis: With Clyde Edwards-Helaire out with his second injury in his second year, and the duo of Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon not looking like the strongest core on the team, it could be a nice opportunity for Mack to get back to his 1,000-yard season form he was in before rupturing his Achilles two seasons ago.
(Note: Chiefs have already been linked to this possible trade by league sources)
- CB Terrance Mitchell – Houston: The Chiefs have allowed the 6th most yards through the air thanks to missed tackles and numerous blown coverages by the likes of Dan Sorenson (and others). Mitchell would click automatically considering he already has a feel for the defense after having his best season in KC in 2017 just before being waived by Spagnuolo to bring in the new regime.