With the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs season in the books, it is time to turn our attention to the offseason. Here is what in my mind are the top five offseason priorities for the Chiefs:
1) Protect Patrick Mahomes.
When you have the greatest player in the game, protecting him with an offensive line that makes him feel comfortable executing the offense should always be a top priority. After watching the complete breakdown in protection in the Super Bowl, and given the significant injuries at the offensive tackle position, the situation looks pretty dire. The cupboards aren’t bare, with some returning players (like LDT and Lucas Niang) who might be able to contribute. But, assembling a deeper offensive line with some top-end starters —inside and out—has to be the top priority. They could use pick 31 and/or 63 on any of the three offensive line positions, and it would be seen as a smart move. They could also look to free agency for immediate contributors. To free up resources, they’ll have big decisions to make regarding Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, and to a lesser extent, Austin Reiter. We could see a very different offensive line unit by the season opener.
2) Add reliable receiving options.
The underplayed story of Super Bowl LV was the Chiefs receivers’ inability to get open or catch the football. That’s a frustrating problem for a team that boasts a top-tier wide receiver and the best tight end in football. The Chiefs need an established WR2 who can be a reliable target and make contested catches. They could also use another receiving threat at tight end. Travis Kelce is the best in the business, but there is a secondary role for a tight end that can block and take advantage of the occasional wide-open opportunity to make a play.
3) Bolster the pass rush.
The Chiefs have invested significant resources in Chris Jones and Frank Clark. Those guys should continue to be the cornerstones of the pass rush, regardless of the commentary about the limitations of each player. The Chiefs have cobbled together defensive ends across from Clark, and nearly all of those guys are going to be free agents. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Alex Okafor and Taco Charlton are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, and I’m not sure any of them get a significant offer to stay in Kansas City. It might be time to invest a top-100 pick on a pass rusher.
4) Have a plan for the young talent on this roster.
- The Chiefs never really used the abilities Clyde Edwards-Helaire appears to possess, based on his LSU film. The Chiefs offensive staff should spend a significant amount of time and creativity putting a plan in place to feature Edwards-Helaire next season. This offense would be much better with some balance, and Edwards-Helaire has the ability to be a factor in the passing game. There is no excuse for him not being a bigger part of what they do in his second season.
- Mecole Hardman might have been the most frustrating player on the roster this season. He didn’t take the step forward that many of us thought he might. Maybe he can put it together after another offseason, or maybe he’s simply a gadget player and we all need to lower expectations. Either way, the staff needs to have a plan to develop and use him if they are going to keep him around.
- Willie Gay Jr. appears to have the ability to be a three-down linebacker in the mold of the two guys that just dominated for Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs eased him into the lineup — in a limited role in 2020. This offseason is a significant one for Gay, and focusing on his development could pay off in a big way next season.
- Lucas Niang opted out of this season due to COVID-19, and was recovering from injury in his rookie season, essentially taking a “redshirt year.” Now, the need for offensive linemen is more apparent than ever, so it would be nice to know what they have in Niang — and confirm that he’s a building block for the future. If he is and can start as soon as this upcoming season, it’s a huge win.
- Khalen Saunders fell out of favor in the past year, as Turk Wharton made the team and far exceeded expectations while Saunders was out with an injury. Mike Pennel is a free agent, so perhaps Saunders can step into his rotational spot next season. The team’s actions will speak louder than words when it comes to the interior defensive line. If they make an addition, Saunders is likely the odd man out. If not, perhaps they can work him back into their plans.
5) Fix the special teams.
The once-elite special teams' unit headed by Dave Toub had some really bad moments in 2020. Plagued by fumbles, penalties and missed extra points, the “third phase” of this Chiefs team was probably a net negative. Add in the shanked punts in the Super Bowl, and some questionable decisions returning punts and kicks deep in their own territory, and there is room for improvement. Toub has significant input at the end of the roster, and he will need to use that power this offseason to re-establish his reputation as one of the best special teams coordinators in the league.
What is the Chiefs’ most pressing need this offseason?
This poll is closed
Protect Patrick Mahomes.
Add reliable receiving options.
Bolster the pass rush.
Have a plan for young talent.
Fix the special teams.
Other (comment below)