In the coming offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs will have to decide whether they want to re-sign linebacker Drue Tranquill, who is reaching the end of his current one-year contract.
The former Los Angeles Chargers player has been a pleasant surprise this year. Through 16 games, Tranquill has recorded 79 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a team-leading 35 defensive stops. Even better, he provides the defensive coaching staff with a chess piece they can place anywhere on the defense’s second level.
“He has been fantastic,” Kansas City linebackers coach Brendan Daly told reporters on Thursday. “He can play multiple roles. He’s been outstanding in terms of his ability to learn different roles.”
Those have included being the team’s MIKE linebacker during the eight games that starting MIKE Nick Bolton missed with injuries. And according to Daly, Tranquill is always ready to face the challenge of a new task.
“We talked about something — in terms of moving forward — a little bit of something different that he hasn’t done [before],” revealed the coach. “He’s already looking at it. He’s already got good questions.
“He’s been a leader. He has a professional attitude and mindset — and he’s been a lot of fun to have around.”
Daly also noted that it’s hard to keep a player of Tranqill’s caliber on the sidelines — especially when a player as good as Nick Bolton is ahead of him on the depth chart. Daly said that getting both players into the game is a bit of a balancing act.
“Honestly, you’d like to get them all more [snaps],” he explained. “You’d also prefer not to play 70-100 snaps a defense in a game.
“I thought Nick got in a pretty good rhythm in this past game — after all that he’s battled through from an injury standpoint, [his] conditioning and all those types of things. And Drue continues to make plays when he’s out there — regardless of what role we put him in.”
For his part, Tranquill sees the defense’s depth — not just at linebacker, but as a unit — to be one of its strengths.
“I think any good championship team has to have depth,” the versatile linebacker told reporters in the locker room on Thursday. “And certainly Brett Veach and Andy Reid — and everybody in the front office [and] coaching staff — has done a great job of building that here.”
But even in his fifth NFL season, Tranquill hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned as a rookie.
“When your [number is] called,” he said, “you’ve got to be ready to go.”