Free agency is a month away. Players will change teams, some will re-sign, some will remain free agents and never get signed again. I will dive into free agency position by position and the likelihood the Chiefs will sign someone at the position and if they would look for a starter or backup. I will also mention a few big-name free agents at each position, even if I don’t think the Chiefs will resign them.
Some notable quarterbacks set to hit free agency include former starters Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, and Joe Flacco. Former Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton will be free agents as well. Chad Henne is set to be a free agent too and due to his age, he may consider retirement. If that is the case, the Chiefs may be in the market for a backup quarterback in free agency. All the names given might be quarterbacks looking for a chance to start, so they may have to settle for quarterbacks like Jacoby Brissett, Mitchell Tribusky, Brandon Allen, etc.
The Chiefs have two pending free agent running backs, Jerick McKinnon and Derrick Gore, who both may be resigned, or at least one may potentially be resigned. If they pursue free agents at running back, it will likely be for depth instead of a starter. Some notable free agents include Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Richard, and Phillip Lindsay. Chiefs fullback Michael Burton is also a free agent, though he may likely be resigned.
As it stands right now, come March 16th, the Chiefs will only have two of their receivers they had on the active roster at the end of the season under contract, Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. They do have 9 receivers signed to futures contracts, but most, if not all, of them, will be gone by the start of the regular season. When it comes to filling out the rest of the depth at receiver, the Chiefs are likely to use a combination of resigning players, new free agents, and the draft to fill out the depth chart. Notable free agents include Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Davante Adams, Will Fuller, T.Y. Hilton, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and former Chief Sammy Watkins. They will likely go after one of the big-name receivers to be a #2 receiver behind Tyreek Hill and potentially one more to potentially be that 4th or 5th option, as well as returning probably at least 1 receiver that has an expiring contract.
We all know, the Chiefs are set on a starting tight end. Blake Bell is set to hit free agency, but he could potentially be resigned. He is a fan favorite, due in part to him being from Wichita and also being the nephew of former Chief Mike Bell. Jody Fortson is a pending free agent, but he likely will be resigned. If the Chiefs pick up a tight end in free agency, it will likely be for depth, or if they don’t resign Bell, but based on recent history, we’re more likely to see an undrafted free agent tight end signed than a free agent. Some notable tight ends available include Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski, and Jared Cook.
The Chiefs are currently set to only have 8 offensive linemen, including futures contracts, under contract at the start of free agency. Similar to receivers, we’re likely to see a mix of resignings, new free agents, drafted players, and undrafted free agents fill out the depth chart at offensive line. Orlando Brown is gonna be one of the priority players to resign for the Chiefs. They gave up way too much to have him only for a year. Notable free agents include Brandon Scherff, Nate Solder, Ryan Jensen, Riley Reiff, Jason Kelce, and former Chiefs Eric Fisher and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Along the defensive line, a priority for the Chiefs is going to be resigning Melvin Ingram. He was a big help for the Chiefs on the defensive line after he was acquired from the Steelers. Jarran Reed is another starter set to hit free agency. He could honestly go either way, but my prediction is he doesn’t get resigned, so the Chiefs will likely either draft his replacement or sign in free agency. Some notable defensive linemen set to hit free agency include Dante Fowler, Calais Campbell, Jason Pierre-Paul, Akiem Hicks, Ndamukong Suh, and former Chief Emmanuel Ogbah. Ogbah has been mentioned by a lot of fans for a player they would like. He did well for the Chiefs the last time he played for them. Perhaps we’ll see a reunion this spring.
The Chiefs, at the beginning of free agency, will only have 3 linebackers under contract. These three players, however, are also the starting linebackers. I won’t be surprised if they don’t resign any of their pending free agents either. The only one I see being resigned is Dorian O’Daniel, but he didn’t play much on defense playing 94% of his snaps on special teams. Some notable free agents include Von Miller, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Anthony Barr, and Haason Reddick.
The Chiefs will typically enter training camp with close to 20 defensive backs, usually with 3-5 undrafted free agents. The Chiefs will only have 7 under contract, including futures contracts, when free agency begins. Tyrann Mathieu is going to be another priority pending free agent, they will likely resign him. Chavarius Ward was a starter most of last season, while not as much of a priority as Mathieu, he will probably be in line for a new contract. The rest, are likely to hit free agency. The Chiefs will use free agency, the draft, and undrafted free agents to fill out the rest. If Ward can’t be resigned, they may use free agency or the draft to replace him.
Special teams are probably the only unit the Chiefs are completely set on heading into free agency. They have no pending free agents and all three are safe in their jobs. Sometimes, the Chiefs will bring in an extra kicker or punter for camp, but they typically don’t make the final roster. Notable specialists set to hit free agency include Pat O’Donnel, Kevin Huber, Andy Lee, and longtime fan favorite former Chief Dustin Colquitt.
Ten of the 32 players added in free agency last year for the Chiefs would eventually make the final roster. With that being said, only Kyle Long and Austin Blythe didn’t get much playing time. The Chiefs will have 53 players under contract at the start of free agency, they will wind up anywhere between 6 to 10 draft picks depending on trades, and they usually sign around 10 undrafted free agents. That will leave anywhere between 27 to 31 free agents to round out the 90-man roster for training camp. These will be a mix of new faces and returning faces. We will see how it all shakes out. Free agency officially begins at 4 pm eastern time on March 16th.