Monday marks another step in the push toward another NFL season.
All NFL teams with returning head coaches can start the first day of offseason workouts. Teams with new head coaches were able to start April 1. Most NFL teams with returning coaches, including the Kansas City Chiefs, will start Monday. New Orleans is the lone exception, starting April 22.
With another part of the offseason here it is time to look back at the moves by the Chiefs so far this offseason.
The big focus for Kansas City this offseason is the defense. The Achilles’ heel last year was the defense that ranked near the bottom in numerous categories for much of the season.
The Chiefs fired defensive coordinator Bob Sutton after the AFC title game loss to New England. Sutton will be replaced by Steve Spagnuolo. The Chiefs will also have new coaches for the defensive line (Brendan Daly), outside linebackers (Britt Reid), inside linebackers (Matt House), defensive backs (Dave Merritt), defensive backs/cornerbacks (Sam Madison) and defensive quality control (Terry Bradden) after the previous coaches either departed for new teams, retired or were fired.
Along with the new coaches, the Chiefs added a variety of players.
Additions on offense like Blake Bell and Sammie Coates add some solid depth at tight end and wide receiver. E.J. Manuel gives competition for Patrick Mahomes’ backup and Carlos Hyde adds a starter-level running back to the team after Kareem Hunt’s departure. The Chiefs also resigned fan favorite fullback Anthony Sherman.
On defense, the Chiefs added some solid players in Damien Wilson and Bashaud Breeland. The team also just picked up Keith Reaser, one of the standouts in the Alliance of American Football before the league suspended operations.
In terms of departures, the Chiefs lost a handful of contributors like Chris Conley and Demetrius Harris but the biggest losses came with the trade of Dee Ford and cuts of Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Houston and Ford were the few bright spots on defense in 2018 and Berry has been one of the key leaders for the entire team, but the team moved on.
The biggest move would have to be the Tyrann Mathieu signing. While the trades of Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown were the bigger news stories, I think the Mathieu signing is the biggest addition to the team so far this offseason. The “Honey Badger” is one of the most versatile players in the league.
With the Houston Texans in 2018, Mathieu lined up at free safety (440 snaps), left slot cornerback (199), left outside linebacker (123), right slot corner (112), right outside linebacker (39), right inside linebacker (31), left inside linebacker (27), wide left cornerback (19), left defensive tackle (3), middle linebacker (2), wide right corner (1) and right defensive tackle (1). He did similar things when he was with the Arizona Cardinals.
After character issues in college, the biggest knock against Mathieu now is his health. He missed time in each of his first four seasons. He has torn the ACL in both knees and has missed time from thumb and shoulder issues. While he has played in all 16 games in the last two years, he does have a history of injuries. If he can stay healthy, this pick-up is tremendous. Prior to his injury in 2015, Mathieu had one of the strongest cases for defensive player of the year with names like J.J Watt, Luke Kuechly and Aaron Donald. While Cam Newton still was easily the MVP that season, Mathieu was up there as one of the best. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mathieu’s name in the running for defensive player of the year again this year with Kansas City. As long as he is healthy, the Chiefs will have one of the best players on defense on the field.
The next move for Kansas City will be the draft in two weeks. Expect a lot of defense in the picks as the team looks to build around Mathieu.
Luke Peterson is the sports editor for the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org