In case you didn't realize, the Kansas City Chiefs had a rancid offensive line in 2014. The group could not block its way out of a paper bag, ultimately playing the largest role of keeping the team out of the playoffs. Talk about the receivers and injuries all you would like, but the lack of blocking was the biggest problem by a mile.
So how do the Chiefs address the offensive line this offseason? Jeff Linkenbach, Ryan Harris, Mike McGlynn and Rodney Hudson are all free agents, and probably will be wearing different uniforms come September. The remaining players include Eric Fisher, Zach Fulton, Donald Stephenson, Jeff Allen, Eric Kush and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
On March 10, the new league years begins and free agency opens. Currently, Kansas City is right around the cap limit but will be well below the threshold by the aforementioned date. The Chiefs are likely to release or restructure Tamba Hali and Dwayne Bowe, along with others. When the smoke clears, the Chiefs could have anywhere between $10-20 million to spend after factoring in releases, restructures and the cost of upcoming draft picks.
If general manager John Dorsey wants, he can spend lavishly in free agency. Still, Dorsey has shown restraint throughout his first two years. With 11 selections in the 2015 NFL Draft, Dorsey has ample ways to fill voids on the roster without writing massive checks.
Personally, I believe the Chiefs will try to develop from within while adding a high draft pick into the mix. Kansas City reportedly likes Duvernay-Tardif, and sees Allen as a player who can play guard or tackle. The major question is whether Stephenson is viewed in a starter's light, or if he's buried in the doghouse. Fisher, for better or worse, is going to get another year to prove he can play a solid left tackle.
I wouldn't be surprised if Fisher and someone like Duvernay-Tarif man the left side, with Fulton and Allen on the right. At center, Dorsey could go with Kush but would be wise to bring in a lesser-priced center like Stefen Wisniewski via free agency, who is entering his prime. If Dorsey wants to continue the trend of homegrown men outside of Kush, he could draft Cameron Erving in the second round, provided he makes it to Kansas City's pick.
Starting with such a young, unproven line is undeniably worrisome, but it will likely be better than 2014. Allen is better than Harris, Duvernay-Tardif absolutely can not be worse than McGlynn, and logic dictates Fisher and Fulton will improve with another offseason. The only downgrade is at center, and a signing of Wisniewski negates Hudson's loss for the most part.
While the splashy move would be to acquire Orlando Franklin and Bryan Bulaga, the more likely method is that Dorsey looks inward and hopes that Andy Reid and his staff can develop the existing talent.