“Returning Chiefs” is an offseason series with each entry focusing on one player that we know will be returning to the Chiefs next season. With so much change expected to come, the returning players will be more important than ever in the pursuit of another Super Bowl championship. Many of these returning players will be asked to take on larger roles in production and leadership and Chiefs fans should know who those players are and what we should expect from them.
We began this series with one of the newest Chiefs we will have returning to the roster, now we welcome back one of our longest tenured Chiefs. Two time Super Bowl Champion DT Derrick Nnadi is running it back in KC for at least one more season.
Homegrown Success Story
Derrick Nnadi was drafted by the Chiefs with the 75th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL draft. He is the only player from that draft class that has remained with the franchise and made any tangible impact on the field. That is enough to be excited about retaining him. Super Bowl championships have eased the pain of mentioning names like Breeland Speaks and Kahlil McKenzie, but Derrick Nnadi has been carrying the torch for that draft class for five seasons with a sixth on the way.
Not every mid round draft pick can be a superstar, and the mark of truly good teams are the role players and unheralded guys. Derrick Nnadi has been a successful draft pick for the Chiefs and one that shines through even a rough first draft class for Brett Veach.
What He Brings (Back) to the Roster
As far as production goes on the interior defensive line, Kansas City has one of the most productive players of all time manning the middle, so there probably won’t be too many staggering numbers recorded by other Chiefs DTs, but that’s not what this signing is about.
Nnadi provides continuity to a Chiefs roster that likely won’t have very much of it. In his five career seasons, big number 91 has played in 81 of a possible 82 regular season games, starting 69 of them. If you include the postseason, those numbers grow to 80 starts in 95 games played.
Chiefs fans have come to know Nnadi as a run stopping force in the middle, but it’s uncertain what player we will see this year. Is it the more dominant 2021 version of Nnadi or the less productive 2022 version that eventually surrendered snaps to 34-year old Brandon Williams in the playoffs?
That question will be answered during training camp and beyond, but for now, he provides valuable depth and another voice who knows the defense and can teach the new players the ropes.
What Does This Mean for Other Moves?
This signing shouldn’t stop the Chiefs from continuing to build the defensive line around superstar Chris Jones. The continuity you receive from a Nnadi return provides flexibility to fill out the defensive line however GM Brett Veach sees fit. You can swing for the fences in the draft or take chances on bounce back players in free agency. No matter how he approaches it or even if those players end up being upgrades over Nnadi, we know what Nnadi is and what he can bring to the table and there’s extreme value in that, especially this year.
One last thing to note, the NFL is a tough league to play in and produce year in and year out for an entire career. It’s why distinctions like the Hall of Fame exist. Not enough conversation has been had about the possibility of Nnadi just having a down year this past season. We’ve seen them before and we’ve seen the bounce back seasons. I could argue Chris Jones just had one after the failed defensive end experiment and quieter year statistically in 2021-2022. Don’t be surprised if we see a better version of Nnadi in 2023.
No matter how it all shakes out over the course of the offseason, Chiefs Kingdom is happy to have another familiar face around.