The Kansas City Chiefs are almost a week into free agency which means they've made their big moves already. However, there is plenty more to do.
I looked at the Chiefs top five needs as it stands now. It's actually not that different from their needs before free agency with only the order re-arranged a little. That's because the Chiefs biggest moves in free agency - besides RT Mitch Schwartz - was keeping their own guys. That was a big win for the Chiefs.
I'm not in love with the way I have these ranked here. I can see plenty of arguments that pass rusher should be higher or lower, that offensive tackle or defensive line is too high or that safety should be higher. I'm just not sure is what I'm saying. I do, however, think these three needs are in the top five.
Guard was one I considered putting here but the Chiefs have a number of options there next season. Inside linebacker was another but I think the Chiefs like Ramik Wilson and Justin March as developmental prospects behind the starters. Receiver was a consideration but this came after Rod Streater signed a deal. Is receiver still a big need? I'm not sure who I want that would take Chris Conley or Albert Wilson off the field.
So let's get to it. The top five remaining needs for the Chiefs.
This could be a slot corner or it could be outside corner. The Chiefs likely need another one as Phillip Gaines coming off a knee injury and second year Steven Nelson have some question marks at this point. The Chiefs need another veteran corner here. They could draft someone, too. I would point out that the Chiefs have spent three draft picks on corners in the past two seasons - two of them third round pick. So I wonder if that says something about how the Chiefs value cornerbacks - these aren't seventh round picks now. A first and two thirds as well as dipping into the free agent market over the past three years (Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson) shows the Chiefs understand the importance of that position. More is coming.
2. Defensive lineman
The Jaye Howard re-signing only meant that this wasn't an immediate need. It's still a need. Howard's deal is up after 2017 and then he's going to be looking for a bigger deal. Dontari Poe is up after the 2016 season. Allen Bailey is under contract through 2018. The Chiefs have these contracts staggered nicely so that they can continue to replenish the lines. I can easily see another defensive lineman added this year or next.
3. Pass rusher
Tamba Hali looks like he's back for at least two seasons but he has broken down late in the past few seasons. Dee Ford isn't someone the Chiefs believe they can fully rely on yet as evidenced by Tamba's new contract. So after this season, we're going to be at a turning point for both Tamba and Ford. Does Tamba retire? Ford will be entering the final year of his rookie deal with presumably no idea whether the Chiefs believe he is the long-term answer (or at the very least they can't re-sign him with what he's shown us so far). Who will man this position in two years? That's the question I'm asking here. If they don't attack this position this year it's not the end of the world but I think they should throw numbers at this position. Try to find someone now. You can't have too many pass rushers, as we learned last season when Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses were playing meaningful snaps.
4. Offensive tackle
Wait! The Chiefs just signed Mitch Scwhartz to a five-year deal. How is tackle a need? Because there are two tackles! It's a really important position that doesn't show up on the side of the street so it requires some planning. Eric Fisher is a No. 1 overall pick while Schwartz has a top right tackle contract; obviously the Chiefs value this position. Fisher's deal is up after the 2016 season. Do the Chiefs pick up his fifth year option? I'm not sure about that at more than $10 million per year. The Chiefs can always re-sign Fisher to a lesser deal before then - I believe they should if the money is right. If not, they're going to have a decision to make after the 2016 season, which means they need to start thinking about this now. I like the idea of adding someone in the draft.
This is probably more of a pressing need than offensive tackle but I put it down here because the Chiefs have been good about finding safeties on the street so it doesn't feel like as big of a need. The Chiefs lost Tyvon Branch and Husain Abdullah is still out there. Abdullah coming back makes sense and so does adding another veteran safety off the street. I like the model of finding the guy trying to build himself back, like Abdullah coming off a year away from football in 2013 or Tyvon Branch coming back from multiple injuries.