Throughout the offseason, there’s been a lot of talk about the large group of starters from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2019 championship roster who will return this season. On Sunday, our Craig Stout looked at another group that’s had zero turnover.
When the Chiefs made such a significant investment in the defensive coaching staff for 2019, there was plenty of buzz about the turnaround they could help make. Through the early part of the season, some fans doubted their effectiveness and the assets spent to obtain these coaches. By the time the playoffs rolled around and the defense was performing closer to its peak efficiency, the efforts of Daly, House, Merritt and Madison became more clear.
In 2020, Spagnuolo once again will lean on these excellent assistants to help repeat as champions. If those coaches perform as they did in 2019 — or better — the entirety of the league may just regret not poaching a member or two of the Chiefs en route to another Super Bowl.
On Monday’s Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, the AP Nerd Squad turned to what has become an annual offseason topic.
If it turns out the Chiefs have found good value with these lower-cost players, it will help them offset the cost of some of the big contracts they’ve signed in the last few years. Late last season, Fenton showed promise; he is likely to be the front runner. But you should not sleep on rookie L’Jarius Sneed; on draft weekend, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was visibly excited about adding him to the mix. Sneed fits the physical profile (and playing style) to be successful in Spagnuolo’s scheme.
As good as the Chiefs were at protecting their cornerbacks last year, they should be able to hold it down in the early part of the season — even if the cornerbacks lack significant experience. If they can, they’ll learn more about the players they have — while giving their young depth players some much-needed experience.
During the two seasons that he’s rapidly risen to become the face of the NFL, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has turned down a lot of endorsement offers. On Tuesday, we learned he had accepted an offer that gives him a piece of the action.
Now based in Toronto, Canada, BioSteel is making an effort to improve its market share in the United States. The company was founded in 2009 to market a high-performance sports drink of amino acids, electrolytes and beets originally developed by former Toronto Maple Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol.
Originally marketed only to professional sports teams, it is now widely used by NHL and NBA teams, along with many professional golfers. The company says it intends to grow its share of sales in the United States’ “top grocery, mass, gas, and convenience retailers, with direct distribution partners across the country to support this growth.” and to attract “new health-minded consumers, athletes, and sports fans through its partnership with Mahomes.”
When Chiefs right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, the Chiefs signed an eight-year veteran to help fill the void — and on Tuesday, we learned he was pretty happy about it.
“I was pretty excited,” said Osemele. “I was fired up. Obviously, the first thing I thought of was playing with Mahomes, and then I accidentally leaked his phone number because I [was using] Instagram. I did a video, and it had his number out there, and I had to take it down real quick. But I was so excited, I didn’t even think about it. I was pretty hyped.
“My agent called me and instantly, the first thing I thought about was this is a really good team, we’ve got a chance to win a championship. I haven’t won one — I think it’s been eight seasons since my rookie year.”
Also on Tuesday, our positional previews for the upcoming season continued. Matt Lane gathered up what we know about Chiefs defensive ends.
Alex Okafor should start the season across from Frank Clark — but Tanoh Kpassagnon could provide serious competition. In passing downs last season, Kpassagnon was often utilized as the first defensive to kick inside on passing downs. That’s likely to continue, but with Taco Charlton (and a now-healthy Breeland Speaks), the Chiefs will have other options, too.
If Kpassasgnon can continue to improve his mental processing — making it easier for him to read blockers — his physical skills give him the best chance to push for a starting role. Given the investment the team has made in him, Speaks also has to be considered — but his size, lack of length and limited athleticism make him less likely to be a starting player. But if he shows up in the best shape of his life, he could be part of the competition, too.
On Wednesday’s Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, the gang discussed a new detail of the special rules adopted for the 2020 season — one the Chiefs could use to their advantage.
The practice squads are expanding to 16 — but interestingly, six of those players have no limit on accrued season. This means veterans of any length of playing career can be held on the practice squad (according to the new CBA, only two players would have no limit on accrued seasons).
The Chiefs could release Moore at the end of the offseason and immediately sign him to the practice squad. He can continue to be in the building and in the classroom — on hand for any situation that may arise with Patrick Mahomes or Chad Henne. Another note from Pelissero could assure that he stays in Kansas City without any team trying to nab him once he’s on the practice squad — Moore can be one of the four practice squad players that the Chiefs protect if they feel the need to take those measures.
On Wednesday, ESPN writer Bill Barnwell named the current NFL players he believes have a chance to become members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He described 11 of them as locks — including a well-known Chief. We took a look his arguments
“Lock (100%): QB Patrick Mahomes. I addressed this in my MVP column in July. Mahomes’ résumé — a league MVP and Super Bowl MVP — is usually enough to get a player into the Hall of Fame, let alone doing it over two seasons as a starter.”
You can’t really argue against Barnwell’s point. Even if Mahomes’ career follows the pattern of Kurt Warner’s — red-hot at the beginning and at a Super Bowl appearance at the end — people will still be talking about it long after it’s over. It was enough for Warner to make the Hall of Fame — and it will be enough for Mahomes, too. But Mahomes started his NFL career at 22 — not 27 — and there’s every reason to think his career will far surpass Warner’s.
On Thursday morning, a Chiefs player became the first rookie to opt out of the season.
The Chiefs viewed the 21-year-old as a potential short-term and long-term solution along the line. Niang played tackle at TCU, but Chiefs general manager Brett Veach noted shortly after the draft that the team could opt to play him at guard as he works to becoming an NFL tackle.
“Ever since getting drafted and having that conversation at the combine, about me potentially moving to guard, I’ve been practicing both guard and tackle,” Niang explained back on July 25. “Trying to get comfortable, so I can be as versatile as possible to help my team out.”
Niang underwent surgery to repair a torn hip labrum back in October of 2019, and this seemed like it could be an unofficial redshirt year for Niang, anyway. The decision keeps Niang under team control a year longer.
After the deadline passed later that day, we tallied up all the NFL players who had decided to take a seat on the couch.
In all, 67 players from 29 NFL teams have now chosen to miss the season under special 2020 terms negotiated between the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
These opt-outs — which are designed to allow players to avoid taking the risk of contracting COVID-19 during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — are essentially irrevocable; players will not be able to change their minds and return to active status in 2020. Under certain circumstances, however, players will be allowed to opt out during the course of the season.
Then on Friday, Kent Swanson gave us another positional preview — this one on the Chiefs’ pass defenders.
It’ll be a battle between Rashad Fenton, L’Jarius Sneed and free agent signing Antonio Hamilton starting opposite Charvarius Ward in Week 1. I want to throw rookie seventh-round pick BoPete Keyes into the mix. but he’s currently on the non-football injury list and it’s unknown what his status will be for the season.
Fenton has a leg up on the other two with a year in the scheme and some promising moments at the end of the year. Hamilton has the most years in the league but has primarily been a special teams ace — his defensive snaps have been limited to this point. Sneed is the most talented of the three but has the steepest learning curve. I’d prefer to see him thrown into the fire early in some capacity on defense to see what the Chiefs have in their fourth-rounder.