As the new NFL year nears, the league’s 32 teams are preparing in quest of a championship. Retooling rosters, scouting veteran free agents and the upcoming rookie class through the Scouting Combine, and making changes to coaching staffs.
Coming off consecutive AFC West titles, the Kansas City Chiefs head into 2018 a much different team than last season. While it’s good to never be complacent in your standing in the league, they are slowly taking on a new look. Trades of veteran QB Alex Smith, who has started for them since 2013, and stud cornerback Marcus Peters, signal a new era. The potential of this franchise will ride heavily on the arm of Patrick Mahomes, but the rest of the roster will be essential in carrying the young gun. Over the last couple seasons, the Chiefs roster has lost depth despite riding dangerously close to the salary cap. The inability to add key defenders, along with those cap problems, helped lead to the departure of general manager John Dorsey. Now it will be up to Brett Veach to right those wrongs and help Kansas City reach new heights in a division that boasts two of league’s best defenses and a host of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
The Chiefs will lose three starters on defense, when the new league season officially begins – cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Ron Parker and inside backer Derrick Johnson. It’s also expected that Tamba Hali will join them. Despite the name value and snap counts, it’s arguable that those moves were for the better. Revis would’ve been due $10 million if he remained on the roster, a ridiculous number for a 3rd/4th corner of his age. Johnson had clearly lost a step, and with the rise of Reggie Ragland it appears the Chiefs are finally ready to address the position. Parker has been a good safety for KC since he signed back in 2013, but this year saw his play drop. Eric Berry is returning, and with Daniel Sorenson also under contract, it seems the Chiefs are at least somewhat prepared to handle the loss. The Chiefs aren’t done retooling their terrible defense, however. Adding David Amerson and Kendall Fuller (via Smith trade with Washington) shows a conscious effort to address the issue. Amerson is a predominantly outside corner, but Fuller works best in the slot, so the Chiefs may still need to snag another corner.
Corners Phillip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell are free agents, but it would be wise not to bring back either except for depth.
Offensively, the Chiefs seem to be set. The offensive line all have multi-year contracts, but finding a consistent starter at left guard would help. While he’s gotten a lot of bad rep, Zach Fulton has been serviceable at both guard and center. The skill positions are as good as ever, with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Kareem Hunt dominating the league last season. Third-year man Chris Conley is returning from his Achilles injury, but he could be facing some competition this year. GM Brett Veach has mentioned Mahomes’ strong arm and suggested the Chiefs will be active in finding more big-play receivers and speed guys. With slot man Albert Wilson possibly leaving in free agency (reunion with Matt Nagy in Chicago?), adding another receiver wouldn’t hurt. Conley has tons of potential, and measurables off the charts, but he hasn’t produced a great deal since being drafted in 2015. Regardless, the Chiefs offense appears to be ready to carry the team once again if the defense falters.
Despite not having a great deal of money to work with in free agency, it doesn’t mean Veach can’t find contributors. With nearly $23 million to play with, I’m looking for cheaper options to fill needs.
CB Rashaan Melvin
Coming off a broken hand, Melvin was putting together a career year in 2017. With 36 tackles and 3 INT, he had one of the highest playmaker percentages in the league. At 28 years old, though, he should come cheap.
CB Aaron Colvin
At 26, he’s just entering his prime. Playing along with Jalen Ramsey and A.J Bouye certainly takes away from his own talents. His ability to rush and play the run is essential for a Bob Sutton corner, and his career interception total (0) might keep his price down just enough. If it doesn’t, his size (6’0, 193) might entice the Chiefs enough to spend a little more.
WR Paul Richardson
Coming off a career year (44 rec, 703 yards, 6 TD), Richardson showed off dramatic flair in his ability to make circus-like catches down the field despite all sorts of coverage. Playing with Russell Wilson meant he always had to get open and never give up on a play. His 16.0 YPC shows his vertical ability, and with Veach’s earlier comments, this could be an excellent pairing.
CB Ross Cockrell
Traded to the Giants for a conditional 7th round pick from Pittsburgh, he proved to be a solid starter for both teams. At 27, he could be a nice option for the Chiefs. He blitzes and can play both man and zone.
ILB Avery Williamson
A 5th round pick by the Titans in 2014, he’s evolved into a solid coverage guy but dominant against the run. Given the Chiefs struggles in this department, he could be a huge asset at just 26 years old.
Follow us on Twitter: @KCSportsNation
Like us on Facebook