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Dixon’s AP mailbag: cornerbacks, interlocking pieces, Chad Henne and safety depth

The regular season is underway, so let’s see what questions our readers have as the Chiefs prepare for the Jaguars

NFL: AUG 10 Preseason - Bengals at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride Mailbag, where I’ll do my best to answer your questions about the Kansas City Chiefs — and anything else that’s on your mind. If you have a question, you can hit my profile page to E-mail me, or ask me on Twitter.

While you’re at it, please follow me on Twitter, too.

Is Brett Veach actually working on adding to the cornerback room or is this what they are riding through the season? We have heard speculation that there could be an addition to help this glaring weakness, but we are still waiting...️

— Todd

What week will Kansas City be trading for Patrick Peterson?

— Rob

Are the Chiefs honestly expecting to use safeties as cornerbacks?

— B.R.

Tyreek Hill for Jalen Ramsey?

— Blaize

Thanks for your questions, Todd, B.R., Rob and Blaize. Appreciate it.

All of these folks are asking some form of the same question: Why didn’t Brett Veach make a deal for a top-tier cornerback before the season began?

Here’s the short answer: because Veach didn’t want to do it.

But was that because he never found a deal with which he was comfortable — whether it was a free agent signing or a trade? Or was it that he didn’t want to make a cornerback deal in the first place?

The latter is unlikely. Even someone like me — who has been arguing since May that the Chiefs cornerbacks were average (instead of terrible) last season — will concede the cornerbacks could be better. There’s just no reason to believe Veach wouldn’t have made a deal to get a better cornerback — that is, if he could have made the right deal.

And there is the problem: making the right deal.

Sure... there was probably some way Veach could have acquired a “name” player like Xavier Rhodes, Jalen Ramsey or Patrick Peterson — just to bring up a few of the players that people like our questioners have been clamoring to get. If you’re a GM who is dead set on getting a certain player, all you have to do is keep increasing your offer until the other GM says, “Yes.”

But we can’t forget that Veach has other fish to fry — such as two marquee players who need to be locked into large contracts before this year is finished. Then there’s the superstar player who needs to be extended with an uber-large deal in the next one. He’s got salary cap space with which to work, but he also needs to conserve as much of it as he can.

Much as we’d like for Veach to fix every problem on the roster, it’s simply impossible to fix all of them at once.

So Todd and Rob... I think that if Veach was going to make a big deal for a “name” cornerback, he would have made it by now.

Yes, B.R.... Veach did speak of using safeties as cornerbacks. But let’s remember that Morris Claiborne will be available in Week 5. All the Chiefs have to do is make it through four weeks of the season without a starter going down, and we’ll all be able to breathe a little easier. And besides: in Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme, the line between safeties and cornerbacks is a bit blurry anyway.

And Blaize... I wouldn’t trade Tyreek Hill for Jalen Ramsey. Nor do I think the Chiefs would make that trade. I don’t think they stood by Hill’s side all the way through that unpleasant business just to exchange him for a mouthy cornerback.

I guess all I’m concerned about at this point is if our defensive backs will be good enough to let a pass rush develop.

— Squish

Thanks for asking.

You might as well have been concerned about whether the pass rush will be good enough to take pressure off the cornerbacks.

Any defense is all about how the interlocking pieces work together. If the secondary can keep receivers covered, the pass rush has a better chance to succeed. If the pass rush can get in the quarterback’s face, there’s less pressure on the secondary.

And if I may use this question to circle back to the previous one, this is why we shouldn’t be brandishing pitchforks and torches over Brett Veach’s lack of action on cornerbacks — at least not yet. We’re evaluating the corners largely on the basis of what they did in a different scheme last season — and perhaps more importantly, with different safeties behind them.

And that’s true of every position group on the defense.

We’ve already seen the defense is bringing a new attitude, but that’s about it. We haven’t seen how the defense will be when the score is going to count. In real live game action, it’s possible we’ll see the cornerbacks can hold their own in this scheme — or we’ll see that they can’t.

There’s only one thing that matters: whether the defense as a whole is more effective.

Why even go through the roster trouble for Henne? Teams only get two IR returns per season. Why waste one on a position that will only see garbage time and victory formation snaps? They obviously don’t have to bring him back, but why not just put him on IR for the season?

— G.G.M.

Thanks for the question.

If everything goes to plan, you’re right: the Chiefs backup quarterback will only see the field in garbage time — or in meaningless late-season games.

The problem, however, is that things don’t always go according to plan. Should Patrick Mahomes be seriously injured — something nobody wants to even think about — the Chiefs want an experienced, reasonably-capable player to take his place. Since he arrived in Kansas City, that’s the way head coach Andy Reid has always operated.

I say it all the time: a good backup quarterback is insurance — and insurance is expensive. Sometimes it just costs you a few million bucks against the salary cap. Sometimes it costs one of your opportunities to bring back a player from injured reserve, too.

But that additional cost might not be required.

Matt Moore — who is taking Henne’s place as the primary backup quarterback — just arrived in Kansas City. Some have suggested that Moore might be a better option than Henne; after all, he was one of the players the Chiefs were considering before Henne came on board. In the next few weeks, the Chiefs may decide that Moore can do the job for them. If that turns out to be the case, then they’d have the option to make an injury settlement with Henne — and move on.

I’m worried about Tyrann Mathieu playing a full 16-game season. Gotta find something to worry over! What’s Plan B if he gets injured?

— Paula

Thank you for the question, Paula.

Being worried is part of being a Chiefs fan. Congratulations on demonstrating your credentials so well!

It’ll be the same plan as always: the next man up.

In this case — if the unofficial depth chart is to be believed — that man will be Jordan Lucas. I have to say I’m a bit surprised that Juan Thornhill isn’t listed there as a starter. Instead, he’s behind Daniel Sorensen. It’s also surprising to me that Armani Watts is in the third tier behind Tyrann Mathieu and Lucas.

But if either of the (unofficial) starters go down, I would not be surprised if that pecking order changes. For that matter, I think the depth chart — like the defense itself — will be pretty fluid through the opening weeks of the season. Just a month ago, Spagnuolo made it pretty clear that he was still figuring out how to best use the players available to him. As the defense sees real game action, we should expect to see changes in how players are utilized.

But otherwise, I’m with you: let’s hope the Honey Badger stays healthy for the whole season. We’re Chiefs fans. Worrying is what we do.

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