The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in unfamiliar territory, as the team failed to qualify for the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2018 season. Following a crushing overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, general manager Brett Veach will be looking to add even more talent to the roster in order to reclaim their throne.
In 2021, the Kansas City Chiefs exhibited spurts of disjointed offense. You would never know it by looking at the numbers, as the team finished top-five in the following offensive categories: points per game (4th), total touchdowns (4th), total yards (3rd), first downs (1st), and third-down success rate (1st). It was a popular saying throughout the season to declare that the Chiefs are broken, that Andy Reid had been “figured out”, and that Patrick Mahomes was a “turnover machine”.
None of these things proved to be true as the Chiefs went on to win nine of their final ten games of the regular season, with the lone loss being a three-point defeat at the hands of eventual Super Bowl participant Cincinnati Bengals.
I know numbers are not the tell-all, and there were some stretches that looked extremely uncharacteristic for the high-powered offense. Whether it be the “bored” argument because they know they can put up 30 points even on a bad day, or if the issues stem from personnel issues, something just looked off some weeks.
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are arguably the best players at each of their respective positions, but the rest of the weapons currently on the roster do not present anything more than average upside. Having a tight end like Kelce helps make up for the lack of established talent around Hill in the wide receiver room, but it still feels like bringing in a player of a higher caliber could take the offense to an even crazier level.
As far as the coaching staff goes, there were reports that Eric Bieniemy was the main culprit for the stagnation on offense. Andy Reid vehemently denied these reports and shot down any riffs between Bieniemy and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Reid hired former Kansas City offensive coordinator and Chicago head coach, Matt Nagy, to a role as Senior Advisor and quarterbacks coach. The franchise is hoping that a familiar face with a fresh voice is all that’s needed to regain their synergy.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is set to return for his third season at the helm, producing mixed results during his first two seasons. One thing that few consider is how often the defense is on the field during certain weeks. When Mahomes and the offensive score quickly on a number of possessions, it leaves the defense out there for substantial stretches of time. They obviously need to add more talent though, there’s no getting around that.
There are some solid building blocks on the roster, including star defensive lineman Chris Jones, linebacker Nick Bolton, and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. However, Tyrann Mathieu is an unrestricted free agent and it remains to be seen if the Chiefs will match the hefty offers he is sure to command on the open market. It is also increasingly likely that defensive end Frank Clark is cut for cap relief.
The good news is that the team has four draft picks within the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft in April. They also have shown an impeccable understanding of salary cap manipulation, so you can never count them out of acquiring an impact player via trade or free agency. Offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. was acquired last offseason using this method, as the Ravens were not willing to pay Brown as a left tackle and the Kansas City Chiefs snatched him up for a pick swap.
Kansas City Chiefs Offseason Needs
EDGE, LB, WR, DT, Safety, CB, RB?
Impending Free Agents
•S Tyrann Mathieu
•OT Orlando Brown Jr.
•EDGE Melvin Ingram
•TE Blake Bell
•S Daniel Sorensen
•DE Alex Okafor
•RB Darrel Williams
•RB Jerrick McKinnon
•DT Derrick Nnadi
•DT Jarran Reed
•CB Deandre Baker
•RB Derrick Gore
•WR Demarcus Robinson
•WR Byron Pringle
•CB Charvarius Ward
•QB Chad Henne
•OL Mike Remmers
•OL Andrew Wylie
•FB Michael Burton
•S Armani Watts
•OL Kyle Long
•LB Ben Niemann
•TE Jody Fortson
•OL Austin Blythe
•LB Dorian O’Daniel
•CB Chris Lammons
•WR Marcus Kemp
•CB Mike Hughes
Who to Bring Back
Orlando Brown Jr. – This one kinda goes without saying. There’s no way the Chiefs let Brown get away only 12 months after acquiring him from the Ravens last offseason. There’s a chance that the franchise tag is used here, but even if it is, you should assume that the team and their star tackle will strike a lucrative deal at some point before the season begins.
Blake Bell – Blake Bell is not a stats guy, but he’s a great piece to the roster for a number of reasons. He blocks very well, is athletic, and can be utilized in creative ways for short yardage plays. He’s the exact type of depth piece that Andy Reid covets, and he’s not going to cost much at all to retain. Why wouldn’t you?
Tyrann Mathieu – The Honey Badger has provided an edge and play-making ability to the defensive unit during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. As important as Mathieu is, there is still a price for everything. If he finds a monster offer on the open market, it will put the Chiefs in a tough position by jeopardizing some of their long-term flexibility going forward if they do opt to re-sign him.
Melvin Ingram – Veteran Melvin Ingram was one of the best players on the Chiefs defense in 2021. He provided a much needed presence off the edge, finishing the season strong with multiple sacks in the playoffs. His performance showed that there is still gas in the tank. The Chiefs would welcome him back, but there is a chance that Ingram played well enough to get a bigger offer elsewhere. It won’t be anything long term, so the Chiefs could feasibly match any offer. It just remains to be seen if they will.
Good as Gone
Daniel Sorensen – You never want to be the main character on Twitter and unfortunately for Sorensen, there were multiple Sundays with timelines full of him getting burnt. Simply put, the team can find much better in free agency or the draft. There’s no reason to bring him back.
Jarran Reed – Reed disappointed in 2021, failing to provide pressure from the interior. The team can’t rely on an unproductive defensive lineman, especially in a conference full of elite quarterback talent. The Chiefs took a chance after Reed was cut from the Seahawks, but it’s time to move on for both parties.
Knowing that you have Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid takes a lot of anxiety out of the offseason, as their track record speaks for itself. The duo has only dropped three playoff games, with two of them coming against the newly-retired Tom Brady. It is an unprecedented start to a career for Mahomes and with the rise of Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow in the AFC… fans are in store for an exhilarating decade and a half of football. As long as #15 is around though, the path to the Super Bowl goes through the Kansas City Chiefs.