The news came down this evening that Kansas City Chiefs starting safety Daniel Sorensen has a knee injury that could result in him missing the preseason and the beginning of the regular season. Regardless of your thoughts on the player, losing a starting safety is never a positive. The Chiefs do have a lot of younger talent at the position that they could lean on in a pinch, but if Sorensen has to miss lots of time, the Chiefs may want to test what’s left of the free agent safety market and see what they can get.
Here are three guys they could consider if Sorensen’s down and out:
A 10-year veteran, Tyvon Branch last played for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017, starting nine games and racking up 69 tackles and six passes defensed before tearing his ACL last November. As a starter, the 31-year-old safety has shown to be a sure tackler and adept in coverage, and he was a “super-sub” safety for Bob Sutton and the Chiefs defense in 2015, playing in all 16 games as the third safety, accumulating 43 tackles, five passes defensed, one interception and a sack. However, Branch has had four of his last five seasons cut short due to injury, so relying on him to “hold down the fort” in Sorensen’s absence would be a bit of a gamble. Still, he showed last year that he could play at a high level for nine games, and if the Chiefs are looking for a “stop-gap,” he might be a cheap option if he’s healthy Week 1. Also, Pete brought up another great point:
Tyvon Branch is an interesting name to me, but he tore his ACL last season. Also unrelated he’s a great quote.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) August 7, 2018
A guy fellow Nerd Squad member Matt Lane mentioned, Jarius Byrd is a nine-year NFL veteran who started off his career with a bang, collecting 22 interceptions and forcing 11 fumbles after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He tested the free agent market in 2014, signing a $54 million contract with the New Orleans Saints before suffering a major knee injury four games into the 2014 season. It nagged him throughout his time with New Orleans, and he wasn’t able to make the same impact he previously had. He spent 2017 with the Carolina Panthers, coming in to help fill in for a recovering Kurt Coleman. He played in 12 games, tallying 11 tackles, and not much else. He’s on the wrong side of 30, but if the Chiefs can reclaim some of the ability that he had early in his career as a short-term replacement for Sorensen, he would allow the team to bring Dan along slowly.
Eric Reid is the guy on this list most likely to contribute as a right-away starter, and not just a “stop-gap.” A five-year veteran in the league, Reid has started every game he’s played in with one exception and has racked up 318 tackles, 34 passes defensed and 10 interceptions. He’s 26 years old with no career-threatening injuries, and he played all over the San Francisco secondary in his five years there, starting as a free safety, then moving to a strong safety role and a dime linebacker role in 2017.
In this past week, the Tennessee Titans had him scheduled for a visit to replace injured safety Johnathan Cyprien, but three delayed flights out of New Jersey to Tennessee left the Titans to sign Kenny Vaccaro instead. He’s a very good player that’s embroiled in a collusion case against the NFL, but one that could come in and immediately contribute at a high level if Sorensen’s knee were to keep him out for the majority of the year.
In the end, if Daniel Sorensen’s knee injury proves to be on the less severe end of the spectrum, the Chiefs wouldn’t likely pursue a free agent, preferring to roll with Eric Murray, Armani Watts, and Robert Golden in the meantime. But if it’s serious, one of these three might be the newest member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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