The season is officially over!
With the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2021 season firmly in our rearview mirror, we can look to the horizon. A new day is breaking, flooding the world with hope.
Right now, anything is possible. The Chiefs could sign Davante Adams. They could trade up to the first overall pick in the draft and select Kayvon Thibodeaux. Heck, quarterback Patrick Mahomes could throw for 6000 yards and 60 touchdowns this season.
Will any of these things happen? Probably not. But that’s not the point. The point is that they could happen.
Possibility is a beautiful thing. It puts a pep in your step and gets you jazzed up to roll out of bed and face the day.
Everything you’re about to read is pure speculation — just like any of the billion other Internet articles with a headline like 5 Bold Offseason Predictions.
Speculation isn’t a bad thing — as long as you put your name on it and keep the receipts. I’m most likely going to be wrong about these — so feel free to remind me.
It’s my belief that if you’re going to write an article like this one, you’d better swing for the fences. Nobody wants to read something entitled 5 Bold Offseason Predictions just to find lame and predictable forecasts. You already know Travis Kelce is probably once again going to have over 1,000 yards receiving, right? You didn’t come here to watch me hit a layup. So I’m going to chuck up a few full-court shots and try my best not to airball all of them.
1. Patrick Mahomes will perfect the behind-the-back throw
When Mahomes completed his first no-look pass against the Baltimore Ravens back in 2019, our jaws collectively hit the floor. It was unlike anything we had ever seen a quarterback do.
You’re not supposed to be able to play football like you’re Chris Paul — especially in the NFL. At the time, I must have watched the replay 100 times — but fast forward three years, and the no-look pass has almost become commonplace.
So much so that Matthew “Bland Toast” Stafford threw one in the Super Bowl. If he can do it, then it’s time to step up your game and push the envelope a little more.
That’s why I’m predicting that in 2022, Mahomes will throw a behind-the-back pass in a football game — just like Sonny Jurgensen did over 60 years ago.
Once Mahomes perfects the behind-the-back pass, who knows where he will go from there?
Perhaps... the boomerang pass?
I know it sounds impossible — but if anyone can do it, it’s Mahomes. In the meantime, Patrick, here is a tutorial to get you started.
2. Chris Jones will be the only returning starter on the defensive line
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked a combined 16 times against the Tennessee Titans and the Los Angeles Rams. Against the Chiefs, he was sacked once. If the Rams taught us anything, it’s that even in a microcosm of a single play, defense still wins championships. Specifically, defensive lines win championships.
In his end-of-the-year presser, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made a point to highlight that his philosophy for building a roster starts in the trenches — on both sides of the ball. He even said that the defensive line is the offseason’s No. 1 priority.
Making the defensive line your top priority could mean a lot of things. For the Chiefs, I think it’s going to be a mixture of losing guys to free agency, moving on from bad contracts and bringing in new players through the draft.
I think the Chiefs would love to bring Melvin Ingram back on a team-friendly contract similar to the one he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the beginning of last season. The only problem is that last season, he was coming off an injury. Ingram was healthy for all of 2021 — and proved that he still has something left in the tank. If they want to retain him, the Chiefs will have to outbid the other teams who are seeking his services — and on the open market, his price could pretty quickly rise above what Kansas City is willing to pay.
Meanwhile, Frank Clark is due to make $26 million in 2022 — but the Chiefs can save $14 million if they cut him. Even if he were willing to make a team-friendly deal — restructuring his contract to take less money — I’m still not sure I want him on this team. Since arriving in Kansas City, Clark has struggled to stay healthy — and in each season he’s played for the Chiefs, his numbers have steadily declined.
With Jarran Reid, Derrick Nnadi and Alex Okafor all becoming free agents, the Chiefs' front four is going to look a lot different in the coming season.
3. Veach will trade up in the first round to get his guy
Once Veach has his eyes set on something, he gets it — come hell or high water. We saw this a year ago when he remade the offensive line. I think we are going to see the same thing this offseason — but on the defensive side of the ball.
The problem is that the Chiefs are picking 30th in the NFL Draft — and the guy Veach wants might be long gone by the time Kansas City is on the clock. I can see a scenario where Veach falls head over heels for a player like Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson — and does whatever it takes to move up and get his guy.
I imagine that on draft day, Veach wakes up, gets dressed and looks at himself in the mirror.
4. The Chiefs will miss out on all of the top free-agent wide receivers
I think the Chiefs are going to try very hard to bring in a free agent wideout like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Allen Robinson. Both of these guys are coming off disappointing seasons, so they’ll be looking to land in a place where they can rehab their images.
Last season, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid publicly courted Smith-Schuster. Who knows which free-agent wide receiver he has his sights on now? But the Chiefs will have the same issue with signing top wideouts that they had last season: any receiver who comes to Kansas City will do so knowing they will be the third target in the offense. The top free-agent receivers will likely want to go to a team where they can be the quarterback’s No. 1 target.
But the Chiefs can offer something that other teams cannot: the opportunity to chase a ring.
5. Daniel Sorensen and Ben Niemann’s time with the Chiefs will end
We all know that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo loves both of these guys like they were his own kids. But Father Time is undefeated — and as the 2021 season progressed, neither player seemed to have much left in the tank. With the possibility that safety Tyrann Mathieu could also move on, there will be a temptation to bring these guys back so that there will be some veteran leadership on the field.
That being said, Veach is an astute talent evaluator. I don’t see any way that he talks himself into bringing back either of them.
The Chiefs are also expected to consider cutting Anthony Hitchens. If this happens, Kansas City will be in the market for a linebacker (and multiple safeties) either through free agency or the draft.
At the end of the day, we will always have the memories we made.