A lingering free agent in early August, defensive tackle Danny Shelton was talking to four teams: the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. On Tuesday, Shelton revealed that, in the end, it came down to the Jaguars and the Chiefs.
In Shelton's opinion, Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had the edge over the Jacksonville's Mike Caldwell. Why?
Spagnuolo's "juice,” said the defensive tackle.
"Spags, he has this kind of energy," said Shelton. "You don't want to f—k it up. You don't want to get on his bad side — and he's smooth with it. You respect that, and you want to do your best out there, so you're bringing the juice. You get in your playbook and you do your best to produce."
Spagnuolo appreciates the size of his new 6-foot-2, 345-pound defensive weapon.
"I know he's very large," said Spagnuolo. "I just got the chance to talk with him a little bit. I like him. I like the personality and how excited he is about being here. We'll see what happens. We’ve got a little ways to go. They have that acclimation period, so he hasn't really done much from a standpoint of being out there against the offense, but we'll see where time takes us."
Head coach Andy Reid likes the veteran addition.
"He's a big body that's a good athlete," said Reid on Monday. "He's had a lot of good downs in this league. He was out there and (general manager) Brett (Veach) wanted to add a little bit more in there, so he brought him in. It's a good addition."
Shelton spent three years in Cleveland after the Browns selected him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Browns traded him to the New England Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round pick during the 2018 offseason, beginning four years under "The Patriot Way."
Shelton played two seasons (2018-19) for Bill Belichick's Patriots before joining Belichick disciples Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions in 2020) and Joe Judge (New York Giants in 2021) in the next two seasons.
Even two days in, Shelton can tell things are done a little differently in Kansas City.
"It's different for me — it's a new experience," said Shelton. "I've been in that Patriots — if you want to call it — organization for the past four years, so this is a new structure and a new feel, so I like it. I'm getting used to everything."
Shelton suggested that he did not stick in the New England program long-term because the NFL veering toward a pass-happy game. With that, there may be less of a need for a tackle of his stature.
"I'm a bigger D-lineman, so a lot of guys see me as the run-fit guy," said Shelton. "A lot of defenses now have been more pass rushers. I'm honestly just going to be here to play wherever they need me and stay on my toes."
As Spagnuolo mentioned, the Chiefs are choosing to ease Shelton in, just as the team did with left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (who arrived late) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap (who signed late).
Sure, Shelton likely would have liked to sign earlier in the offseason — but he also realizes there are perks to catching on late.
"I'm used to being picked up in March and going through OTAs and everything," he said. "Coming out here, I missed the little heat wave you guys had, so the weather's been good to me. I'm just adjusting and getting ready."
Shelton says he would be willing to play in the Chiefs' second preseason game — this Saturday against the Washington Commanders — should the coaching staff ask him to do so. Considering the suddenly-crowded defensive tackle room, Shelton likely believes that the more he can play, the better.
With Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Turk Wharton as sure bets for the roster, Shelton is likely competing with Khalen Saunders and Taylor Stallworth for an estimated two spots. The natural fit for Shelton would be an early-down run-stopper, but he wants to be in the mix on all three downs.
Opposing offensive lines will likely need two bodies to stop Shelton, leading to one-on-one opportunities for defensive ends such as Dunlap and Frank Clark.
"S—t. That's the job of the interior guy," said Shelton. "You got to be gritty and just go to work. You're not always going to have the pretty plays, pretty sacks and all that — but you're going to contribute to that sack. You're taking two, you're taking three, you're taking that single guy and pushing him right into the quarterback's lap."
Having Jones at his disposal since 2019, Spagnuolo knows what a push can do for a team's sack total.
"It would be a huge benefit — any time you can push the pocket," said Spagnuolo of what Shelton can offer against the pass. "Where it helps is the two outside guys when the quarterback can't step up, so all that kind of goes together. Any time you can get the middle push, I think it makes the outside guys that much more effective."
All the positive comments have made Shelton feel good in his early days in Kansas City. Still, he is keeping his eyes on his personal goal as he finds ways to help his new team.
Having been with three teams in four years, Shelton — at the age of 28 — is ready for the stability of signing with a team long-term.
"I think that's the goal," he said. "When you're in the NFL, you never know. You could be on another team in a couple of weeks, and so I think every player here has that mindset that ‘I'm going to do my best — and hopefully, I'll be able to extend my career here.’ That's the same for me. I don't like moving. I don't like having to move my dogs [and] my kids. If I'm able to contribute and coaches see that, and I'm here longer, then I'm here longer."
Two days in, Shelton has already expressed love for Kansas City — and that's after two nights sleeping in a Missouri Western State University dorm room.
"Everybody loves it here," he said. "I love it here. I love being here, and so I'm just excited to have this opportunity."
Chiefs Training Camp Report - Tuesday, August 16 - Day 15 https://t.co/NRFlTy1pog— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) August 16, 2022
- Did not practice (due to injury): OL Lucas Niang (knee), TE Blake Bell (hip flexor), WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee)
Tweet of the day
Tuesday's No. 1 receiver with Smith-Schuster sidelined.
Quote of the day
Shelton, in the first answer of his press conference, on why he chose the Chiefs: "S—t, I was just tired of flying around."
The Chiefs continue their final week of training camp on Wednesday with another padded practice. It begins at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Here's the complete schedule. Quarterbacks, running backs and specialists will be available to sign autographs as offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy addresses the media at the podium.