Is the Chiefs Front Office Panicking?
As the 2021 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, there seems to be some anxiousness among media and Chiefs fans with the lack of movement in free agency.
The Chiefs still have time to address their needs and will have the resources to do so.
The main reason to not be concerned about the Chiefs is because the NFL Draft hasn’t happened yet. The draft is where the Chiefs can fill most of their holes on offense. The defense doesn’t have as many holes as you think, but will require most of their cap space to fix.
The biggest holes for the Kansas Chiefs are at left tackle and getting a number two wide receiver. The Chiefs biggest “miss” this off-season is not acquiring a number two receiver, to pair with Tyreek Hill. It’s not for a lack of trying as multiple outlets have reported the Chiefs desire to upgrade from Sammy Watkins. The Chiefs are re-signing Demarcus Robinson, after missing out on other free agent receivers. Robinson’s familiarity with the offense is one of the key reasons the Chiefs brought him back.
Veach not signing a receiver to pair with Tyreek Hill is a problem, but one that can be fixed fairly easily. The 2021 free agent wide receiver market saw plenty of one year deals. One major issue was that teams had less cap space due to the pandemic, but most of it is due to the strong 2021 receiving draft class.
In 2020, eight rookie receivers had 600 or more yards receiving, this would’ve been good for third in receiving yards on the Chiefs. Four of the eight receivers over 600 receiving yards were picked in the 2nd round or later. This is why judgment on Brett Veach should be reserved, until after the draft.
Others will say Trent Williams was their biggest miss, but that was always an unlikely signing. Williams wanted to remain with San Francisco, but listened to the Chiefs because of their success and generational QB. This should’ve been the thing to validate the Chiefs status, as they were the only other team Williams considered signing with. However, the Chiefs inability to sign a receiver to pair with Tyreek Hill has led to some questioning Chiefs GM, Brett Veach.
Left tackle is the more glaring need, but the free agent tackle market wasn’t great. The Chiefs could end up signing a veteran like Russell Okung or Alejandro Villanueva, but drafting one is probably the better option. This would require the Chiefs trading up in the first round and giving next year’s 2021 first or second round pick. In my opinion, this would be the best course of action. It might be frightening to have a rookie at left and right tackle (Lucas Niang), but this puts the Chiefs in a better position for the long haul. This is my preferred option over signing a veteran and hoping he’s still capable of playing or wishing that he doesn’t get hurt.
Brett Veach has had his problems with lack of production in his first two drafts and the contracts of Frank Clark & Anthony Hitchens. These are not uncommon critiques, most NFL GM’s face these problems at some point, even the great ones. Veach not signing a proven number two receiver is disappointing, but it doesn’t mean he is a bad GM or that he can’t draft someone to fill that hole. Even if Beach doesn’t sign Trent Williams, it won’t prevent the team from filling that hole in the draft.
Lastly, the defense is mainly missing depth, mostly at defensive end and linebacker, this is where the Chiefs should spend most of their money. My expectation is that the Chiefs will sign a pair of veterans to go with Taco Charlton and Frank Clark, especially with guys like Ryan Kerrigan, Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston and Alex Okafor still available. They may need to overpay a bit, but no one should mind a slight overpay on one year deals.
I think the Chiefs re-signing of Ben Niemann tells us that they are just about done at LB. My guess is that the Chiefs bring back Damien Wilson or a veteran for depth. I think the two biggest needs in the secondary are a developmental safety and a nickel corner. The Chiefs adding a safety in the mid to late rounds will give them insurance for next year, as Daniel Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu, are currently scheduled to be free agents.
Finally, a nickel DB would allow for more flexibility in the secondary, freeing up Mathieu if the Chiefs had a nickel DB go down.
This off-season may not be playing out how the Chiefs envisioned, but they still have plenty of time and opportunities to address their needs. The Chiefs biggest problems won’t be solved today or tomorrow, but can be by the end of this off-season.