Appearing this week on the Ross Tucker Football Podcast, he discussed leaving the Chargers after four seasons — and why he joined a Chiefs team that appeared to have a stacked linebacker group boasting former second-round draft selections Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr.
Even though he started 16 games (and played 93% of the defensive snaps) for Los Angeles last season, Tranquill claims his former team made no effort to retain him.
“I was a little surprised the Chargers didn’t want to bring me back,” he admitted. “There were people in the building that really wanted me back — and there were a few people who wanted to move on. Business is business, but when you give four years so hard to an organization — and it doesn’t feel reciprocated — that’s hard...We had three kids out in LA. We were hoping to stay out there. And it didn’t pan out.”
Although a week of free agency passed before Tranquill joined Kansas City, he said the team was in on him from the start — but needed to see how another situation would play out.
“The Chiefs were adamant all week that they really wanted me,” he explained. “They had to figure out the tackle position with Orlando Brown leaving.”
Though he was grateful to be wanted, Tranquill found it odd to sign with a team he had long considered a divisional foe.
“When my wife and I flew into Kansas City to do our signing,” he recalled, “I walked into the practice facility, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to say, this feels weird, man.’ Like I’ve walked into the same building for four years — and here I am, arguably in our biggest rival’s facility. But we’re just excited for this new chapter. It’s going to be great.”
When he broke the news of the signing, The Score’s Jordan Schultz reported that five other teams had been interested in the Chargers’ linebacker. Still, Tranquill chose to join a team whose head coach and general manager were making no promises.
“Brett Veach and Andy Reid’s message was, ‘Drue, there’s no promises here,’” he said. “‘We love you as a player. We love what you’re able to do. You’re super-versatile. You’re a total linebacker and can do it all — but we’ve got a lot of great players here, and you’re going to have to come in here and earn your way.’”
His decision reminded Tranquil of another time that he chose the best situation over guaranteed playing time.
“It was kind of the same message when I chose Notre Dame over Purdue,” he remembered. “Purdue was like, ‘You’ll come in here and you’ll play right away.’ Notre Dame was like, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to earn you way.’ If I’ve learned anything in my story, it’s when I surround myself with people who are as good — or better than — I am, I always end up coming out better on the other end.
“I think the ultimate goal for me is I want to be the best player that Drue Tranquill can be. I felt like being with the Kansas City Chiefs — out of all the teams that made a push for me in free agency — gave me the best chance to do that.”
Tranquill now finds himself playing for a coach who has coached Kansas City to a pair of Lombardi trophies in the past four seasons — and working directly under a position coach with even more Super Bowl experience. He said that he and his wife are recognizing a “championship culture” in their new home team.
“When you talk about Super Bowl winning coaches, Brendan Daly — our linebackers coach — he’s done it in New England [and] done it with the Chiefs,” he noted. “We were really excited.
“[We] waited longer than we thought. The linebacker market was very saturated. A lot of guys, a lot of free agents. Talking to Andy Reid, talking to the linebackers coach, talking to Brett Veach — they’re stoked to have me. They really wanted me [and] really pursued me hard. We’re excited to be Chiefs.”