Kansas City looked to become repeat champions as they faced off against the Buccaneers in Super Bowl 55. However, the offense around Mahomes had different plans. Mahomes ran for his life all game long, and when he did successfully extend the play, none of his receivers could get open. Mahomes just signed a massive extension, so this Chiefs offseason must focus on getting Mahomes more talent. The Chiefs find themselves down $17 million in cap space, thus their offseason will consist of freeing up cap space through cuts and restructuring to re-sign key free agents.
Roster Needs: IOL, WR, LB, OT, EDGE
The Chiefs depleted offensive line was never more apparent until their Super Bowl matchup. The Buccaneers’ defensive front had its way with Kansas City. One of the greatest quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes cannot have that poor of protection. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff will for sure be back after opting out of the 2020 season. Other guard Kelechi Osemele is an unrestricted free agent after playing a mere five games for the Chiefs.
Kansas City may opt to retain Osemele as he is still an elite talent despite playing at 33 years old. Free agent Austin Reiter was one of the best pass-blocking centers in the league and absolutely must be brought back. With both Osemele and Reiter being re-signed, the interior of the line will be back to its former glory including the return of Duvernay-Tardiff.
Eric Fisher will hopefully be fully recovered from the Achilles injury he suffered in the AFC Championship game come 2021. If Fisher is not ready, he will likely be cut, saving the Chiefs $12 million, but also has a hole to fill at left tackle. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz dealt with a season-ending neck injury in week 7. If Schwartz is not healed either come 2021, he will likely be cut as well. Mike Remmers’s contract is also up, but he has been unimpressive.
If the top tackles are unable to suit up for the season-opener, the Chiefs will to free agents Russell Okung and Alejandro Villanueva. Kansas City has shown their propensity to sign a more proven, veteran lineman who can make an immediate impact. Okung will enter his 11th season without showing any signs of decline. Villanueva has been excellent in Pittsburgh, protecting the aging, immobile Roethlisberger. His talents will be welcome for Mahomes.
At receiver, outside of Tyreek Hill, the group struggles to create separation. Mahomes’s exceptional ability to extend plays means nothing when no one is open downfield. Mecole Hardman is more of a track star rather than a separator. Sammy Watkins can never stay healthy and will hit free agency. A strong route-runner will take this prolific offense to the next level.
Free agent Curtis Samuel from Carolina should be a target this Chiefs offseason. Previously viewed as a gadget player, Samuel proved this year he can play as a true receiver at a high level. Originally a running back in college at Ohio State, he possesses the skill set to line up all over the field and be a dynamic weapon for any team. Samuel was a raw athlete when transitioning to receiver in the NFL, boasting 4.31 speed. Samuel seemed to put it all together this year, going for over 1,000 scrimmage yards on 77 receptions and an impressive 79% catch rate (3rd best amongst wide receivers). He can get open with ease using his speed and agility and will become an immediate favorite for Mahomes.
It should be noted that running back Damien Williams will likely be cut to free up an extra $2 million in cap space.
The Chiefs do not have many pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball. Chris Jones single-handedly collapses the pocket while also being a presence in the run game. Kansas City found a few diamonds in the rough in their cornerback group. Fourth-round pick L’Jarius Sneed was one of the best corners in the league putting receivers on an island.
Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland were excellent in coverage as well as Kansas City forced 16 interceptions on the year, the 5th most. Rounding out the secondary was elite safety Tyrann Mathieu who was a playmaker through the air and on the ground.
The main holes are in the linebacking group. Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are liabilities to the rest of the defense. Neither can plug up running lanes and cannot keep up with opposing tight ends. Wilson is a free agent, and the Chiefs will be looking for a replacement. KJ Wright would be an ideal signing. The 31-year-old could be signed for cheap and would be a massive upgrade over Wilson. He is one of the most consistent linebackers in the league and excels at dropping back into coverage to force coverage sacks.
The other main need is an edge rusher. Some were concerned with Frank Clark’s lackluster play during the regular season, but he turned it on in the playoffs. Clark forced 3 sacks in the Chiefs’ three games with two coming against Josh Allen. If another, more consistent pass rusher can be acquired opposite of Clark, the Chiefs will without a doubt become a favorite to win Super Bowl 56.
The 31st pick is crucial to the development of Andy Reid’s squad. They may opt to draft a receiver or linebacker to cover their other needs, but this edge class runs deep, and a quality player will fall to the late first round. If he falls, Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari should be taken without hesitation. He is explosive off the line with quick hands and a fantastic bend to work against tackles. The high motor Ojulari brings a presence to the edge similar to Justin Houston did several years ago.