The Chiefs have several positions that they need to evaluate this offseason as they move forward on the quest for another Lombardi.
The answer should be pretty simple but it comes on the defensive side of the ball. Specifically, let’s zone in on the defensive line. Chris Jones is one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league and he will only continue to grow as a player. But the defenders to his left and right are where it becomes cloudy at the defensive edge position. If you look at the Chiefs 2021 campaign you can see that the offense started the season slowly. As the season progressed Mahomes started to get the ball rolling and they were able to knock off the early season jitters following their loss in the Super Bowl. The unit that stood out over the Chiefs’ nine-game win streak was the defense. Over that stretch of games, they were allowing just 11.4 points per game. While the offense was lighting up the scoreboard and averaging almost 26 points per contest.
Although the defense held their ground over that stretch of games and was able to help propel the Chiefs to the two seed in the AFC the defense still wasn’t “great”. On the season the defense gave up the sixth-most yards per game in the league and every team that gave up more will be drafting in the lottery in the upcoming NFL Draft. Minus the Seattle Seahawks who traded their pick to the New York Jets in the Jamal Adams trade.
The Chiefs were able to win many games because their offense just had too much firepower and opponents weren’t able to keep up. The defensive line as a unit struggled at the beginning of the season until they were able to add former Chargers’ Star pass rusher Melvin Ingram via a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This sparked the Chiefs’ nine-game win streak that included the dominant stretch by the defense.
As much spark as Ingram added to the defense they still lacked one thing. This was the ability to get after and pressure opposing quarterbacks. On the season they sacked other team’s play callers 31 times. Which was the fourth lowest number in the league ahead of the Lions, Eagles, and Falcons. However, their bright spot came when forcing takeaways as they caused 29 turnovers on defense which was the fifth most in the league and only one out of the third slot.
When you have a defense that was average this past season and then you add in several key names that could be on their way out. This will lead to tons of rearranging across the Chiefs defense this offseason not just at the defensive line position. Frank Clark is somebody that the Chiefs could move on from this offseason with hopes of gaining more salary cap room. The following is a list of key Chiefs’ free agents on defense for the upcoming offseason.
- FS Tyrann Mathieu
- OLB/EDGE Melvin Ingram
- DT Derrick Nnadi
- DE Alex Oakfor
- DT Jarran Reed
- CB Charvarius Ward
- LB Ben Niemann
I think the Chiefs need to find defensive end help this offseason and there will be plenty of options for them to look into. Josh Allen would be an interesting name to throw out in trade talks as an option to man the EDGE position on the Chiefs for years to come. Former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen was signed on to coach the defensive line and could push for the Chiefs to acquire his former young star.
The free agency pool is deep as ever this year and there are plenty of names that could be on the move. Emmanuel Ogbah is a cheaper option that the Chiefs could look into for a possible reunion after his two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. Arden Key could be another underrated option for the Chiefs. It took him a while to get his feet underneath him in San Francisco, but he finally hit his stride as a pass rusher in 2021.
April’s NFL Draft has a ton of different players that the Chiefs could look into acquiring within their four picks in the first three rounds. Although it’s unlikely that the big-name EDGE prospects like Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux will land in Kansas City. The second and third rounds of the draft will present tons of talent for the Chiefs to look into. Drake Jackson and Boye Mafe are two names to watch for when Kansas City is on the clock turning the second day of the draft. Both prospects present large and athletic frames to work with as they make their way into the league.
All in all the Chiefs have a ton of question marks as we head into the offseason. The defense will most likely have several new faces that are dawning the red and gold next season and running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead. It will be fun to watch what moves Brett Veach makes during a key offseason as the Chiefs try to head back to yet another AFC Championship game.