There are many Kansas City Chiefs fans who were expecting general manager Brett Veach to make a move at cornerback in the days (and hours) leading up to the roster cutdown deadline on Saturday.
Veach did make a move at cornerback on Saturday — but not exactly what those fans were expecting. Rather than dealing to acquire another corner, Veach traded one away — sending undrafted free agent Mark Fields to the Minnesota Vikings for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2021.
“Fields is a promising athlete,” Veach explained in his post-cutdown conference call with the press. “He has a lot of talent. We were able to potentially get a pick from him and then use Tremon in that special teams role, still knowing that we had some versatility with Mathieu at corner, a guy like Lucas having played corner [and] Fuller can play on the outside. Thornhill could take some reps at corner if you need it. Meanwhile, [we’re] continuing to look and survey the landscape of what happens in the next 24 to 48 hours.”
So Veach saw a chance to flip an undrafted player — one in whom the Vikings had been interested immediately after the draft — for a future draft pick. All other things being equal, that’s a good move. But Veach specifically said the Chiefs are still interested in getting more cornerback depth.
“We will certainly look into adding some corner depth,” he said, “but one of the things that we talked about here was not overlooking the depth and the versatility we have at safety.”
So from the team’s perspective, cornerback is still considered a need. But in the short term, the team believes they can go forward making use of the versatility they see in the safety group.
Veach made one other trade on Saturday — this one a fairly unusual player-for-player trade. It sent veteran running back Carlos Hyde — whom the Chiefs had signed back back in March — to the Houston Texans in exchange for second-year offensive tackle Martinas Rankin.
Veach told the press that getting another tackle was something the Chiefs had been talking about.
“We talked about our offensive line,” he explained. “Those guys that have started for us have played a lot of years together and are a good, cohesive group up front. The young guys that we have — Nick Allegretti, Ryan Hunter and even Cameron Erving — with those guys, they have primarily played guard. We were trying to identify a tackle — a young tackle. We had Carlos Hyde on our roster. Right towards the end there, Houston had a need, and when they presented us with Rankin, there [were] a couple of positions we were really looking for in the last few days — and one of them was the offensive tackle.”
Like most of the reserve offensive lineman on the Chiefs roster, Rankin is versatile. Though listed as a tackle, he got experience at all the other offensive line positions at Mississippi State. Veach said that he still needs some development, but expressed confidence that offensive line coach Andy Heck is the man for the job.
“[Rankin is] a guy that was drafted in the third round last year — and actually logged four or five starts last year. He needs some work, but Andy has done a good job developing guys that we have on the practice squad and through the waiver claim. Now we have a guy that was drafted third round last year, so he’s a young kid that has a lot of upside. We like having a young guy that we can develop and have under contractual control the next few years. We thought it would be a good move for us to build some depth at the tackle position.”