The two-time defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs underwent a surprising amount of offseason change for a team that is, well, the two-time defending AFC champions and just one year removed from a Super Bowl victory.
The Chiefs remade their offensive line, splashing the pot in free agency, the draft, and the trade market. They moved on from a veteran wideout who has been a big part of their offense. They let their No. 1 cornerback leave in free agency and did not bring back one of their starting linebackers.
Still, this remains one of the best rosters in football, and one that is well set up to compete for Super Bowl titles both this year and into the future. As part of our ongoing series here at CBSSports.com, let’s take a look at where the Chiefs’ roster stands right now.
Note: Asterisks denote rookies.
The Chiefs made a lot of changes on offense. It was obvious that would happen to anybody who watched their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers, where the offensive line was consistently overwhelmed by one of the league’s best pass rushes.
This season, the Chiefs will have five new starters on the offensive line. The Chiefs traded their first-round pick (among other things) to the Ravens for Orlando Brown, and they’ll move him to left tackle. They signed Joe Thuney to a monster contract, brought Austin Blythe over from the Rams, and signed Kyle Long out of retirement. It’s unclear whether Long or back-from-opting-out Laurent Duvernay-Tardif M.D. will start at the right guard spot, but either way it’ll be someone different than last year’s starter. And Mike Remmers, who was the swing tackle last season before stepping into the lineup for Mitchell Schwartz in the wake of the latter’s season-ending injury, will stay in place at right tackle. (They also drafted Creed Humphrey, who figures to eventually become the starting center down the line.)
Of course, the Chiefs have the NFL’s best quarterback, and two of its most dynamic weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Sammy Watkins is gone now, and the Chiefs did not make any big moves to replace him at wide receiver. That’ll put pressure on Mecole Hardman to step up and become the No. 2 option alongside Hill. He’s previously acted mostly as Hill’s direct backup, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out. Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle could see their roles expand if Hardman isn’t up to the challenge.
The Chiefs surely want Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take over as their full-time running back. They cut Damien Williams now that he’s returned from his opt-out year, and will move forward with Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson behind CEH.
Kansas City still has a superstar up front in Chris Jones and one on the back end in Tyrann Mathieu.
The signing of Jarran Reed to join Jones, Derrick Nnadi, and Khalen Saunders up the middle was a good one, and should help the Chiefs generate some pass rush. The team definitely needs to get more out of Frank Clark, though, considering what it gave up to land him in the first place. Taco Charlton is not the best complementary rush-man, but the Chiefs have some interesting depth pieces that could pop.
The secondary will miss Bashaud Breeland, but Charvarius Ward has played extremely well since arriving in Kansas City. L’Jarius Sneed was an absolute steal of a draft pick, and Rashad Fenton has filled in quite well when called upon the past couple years. The Chiefs also picked up Deandre Baker, late of the Giants, after his legal issues went by the wayside. So there’s some decent depth there. They’re also giving former Vikings first-round pick Mike Hughes a shot at reclamation.
Kansas City uses both Thornhill and Sorensen a lot, and the latter’s versatility makes him a good fit as the third safety because he can play alongside Mathieu, Thornhill, or both.