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Buying and selling Kansas City Chiefs offensive line

Another week, another stock watch for the Chiefs. This time around, we're working with the offensive line. (Someone needs to.)

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Selling: Preseason offensive line

Look, let's be honest about the offensive line's play at this point. It's been horrible up front in the preseason. Alex Smith refused to blame the front line on Sunday, but at least Andy Reid was honest enough to say it needs some work. Pro Football Focus gave all five Chiefs starting linemen negative grades against the Vikings, and the unit could get worse before it gets better. After all, four quarters of fatigue make a big difference. So does playing against first-team defenses when real wins and losses are at stake.

Buying: Veteran tackle signings

Earlier this offseason, the Chiefs signed J'Marcus Webb as a free agent to potentially take over Donald Stephenson's swing tackle role. Later on, the Chiefs also added veteran Ryan Harris later in the offseason. The moves have given the Chiefs some experience on the edges throughout the preseason as they prepare to announce their 53-man roster.

It's unknown whether Webb or Harris will make the final cut -- decision day is this Saturday -- but the point is that John Dorsey was diligent in bringing enough bodies at tackle. Stephenson was tabbed as a starter. Eric Fisher was shifting to the left side. But Dorsey knew he couldn't stare leave the cupboard completely bare after those two. Harris and Webb give Andy Reid and his staff some experienced players in the preseason.

"You rarely get bad play from Harris," Pro Football Focus wrote, "it's more a case of him being able to handle a full workload with a history of back problems."

Given the injuries and suspensions so far, the Chiefs are likely going to be a bit better for one of their offseason tackle additions.

Selling: 'If only"s on Schwartz

The calls were made this offseason for the Chiefs to re-sign Geoff Schwartz. The reasoning is understandable. Schwartz had a fine year for the Chiefs, was vocal about wanting to stay in KC, and was a gritty, versatile performer. Given other exits in free agency, a Schwartz re-signing would have made other losses much easier to stomach.

That said, the Chiefs were wise to let Schwartz walk. Already up against the salary cap, the Chiefs could ill afford the sort of signing that's becoming more extinct each year in the NFL as it is: the long-term, mid-level acquisition. Many veteran players are finding a problem making more than the minimum or playing on a series of one-year deals precisely because of financial trends that pay for heavy hitters and rely on youth to fill in the rest. (Hence, draft pick values being what they are.)

Besides, Schwartz as a free agent in 2013 is much different than Schwartz in 2014. Schwartz was Jeff Linkenbach, a one-year flier on the cheap expected to help at multiple positions. So yes, on paper, Schwartz on this side would be nice for the Chiefs. But there are too many other factors to make it a move-they-should-have-made.

Buying: The best is yet to come

At this point, and this might be a bit sunny side up, but these Chiefs linemen are only going to get better. They're the youngest offensive line in the NFL, which means growing pains are ahead. The good news is that they're in the hands of a veteran coaching staff who has implemented the learning curve for dozens of linemen year after year. There's also an intelligent veteran under center in Alex Smith, a guy who can minimize mistakes and ease the transition along.

"Inexperienced" will be replaced with reps and playing time, and the Chiefs are betting they'll be better for it in the long-term without sacrificing their ability to win games in the present. The latter might be more difficult than they realized, but there's a light at the end of this tunnel.

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