The preseason is here, and the air is filled with anticipation around the Chiefs’ Kingdom. The biggest story of this off-season is the contract negotiation between All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones and the front office of the Kansas City Chiefs. When will there be a common ground found between the two parties? Currently, that is unclear. Supposedly, Chris Jones’ contract negotiation was at a stalemate because all parties were waiting to see where the Quentin Williams contract would set the market. Now that Williams has signed a deal that will pay him out $24 million a year, the negotiations have reemerged between the two parties. Several different sources have reported that Chris Jones and his agent are looking for a yearly payout close to what the Rams’ All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald is making. Donald is receiving $31.7 million annually with his current deal.
Without a doubt, the Chiefs’ Kingdom is extremely anxious over the contract negotiations surrounding Chris Jones, and rightfully so. Personally, I’m not worried about Jones playing this season. I’m more concerned about a long-term extension being agreed upon and Jones remaining a Chief for the next four to five years. Chiefs’ Kingdom should cherish the moments with Jones and enjoy him as long as possible.
That said, the defense is primed to be better than ever during the Andy Reid era. Of course, all things look good on paper, but you never know until the players and the pads hit the field. The defensive line has an excellent mix of veterans and youth. The Chiefs appear to have added to the pass rush portion of the defense and added inside and outside versatility. The biggest question mark for the defensive line is how much depth do they have. The 17-game regular season is a brutal on-field battle for all 32 teams. Depth is so vital to the success of a team, and the ability to fill a roster with secondary playmakers is critical to making the playoffs.
The second level of the defense may be the most vital part of the defense. The Chiefs return what many consider to be the best linebacking core in the National Football League. They will line up with Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, and Drew Tranquill roaming the middle of the defense. There is no doubt that Nick Bolton is a top-five middle linebacker in the NFL. He tallied the second-highest number of tackles last year with 108. Bolton has been that dude when it comes to racking up tackling stats from year one in the league.
Even though he is coming up on a contract year, Willie Gay is one of the most freakishly athletic linebackers in the NFL. The best example to sum this up is his play against the Denver Broncos last season. Gay was spying on Russel Wilson due to Wilson’s ability to scramble from the pocket. As Gay tracked the Broncos’ quarterback, Russel Wilson attempted to through a pass over the top of Willie Gay. What Gay did next was Madden-like. Within mere feet of the QB, Gay jumped vertically tipping a pass that was around ten feet off the ground. Then, he was able to intercept the ball, stiff-arm the quarterback, and return it for a touchdown. Even with that detailed explanation, it doesn’t do that play enough justice.
The least talked about acquisition at linebacker is Drew Tranquill. Tranquil is one of the best coverage linebackers in the National Football League. Also, he was the best linebacker on the Los Angeles Chargers last season. Defined as a cap casualty, Tranquill was cut by the Chargers but was only on the market for a matter of seconds. The Chiefs were shocked to see a player of Tranquill’s ability on the market and did not hesitate to make him an offer. Also, this is seen as a potential backfill for Willie Gay if the Chiefs choose to move on.
The most improved part of the defense will be the secondary. Yes, they have three cornerbacks that gained significant experience on the field in Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, and Joshua Williams. Also, they were able to get safety Bryan Cook significant time last season. With this amount of experienced youth in the secondary, the Chiefs are more athletic on defense than at any other time during Andy Reid’s tenure as the head coach.
With training camp in full force, the biggest obstacle for the Chiefs is keeping everyone healthy. In the past five seasons, the only team to truly beat the Chiefs is the Chiefs. As long as they stay healthy, I don’t see this changing much. In no way am I saying that they are going to run the table. Will they be in contention for the #1 seed in the AFC playoff picture? Yes. Will they get to a sixth consecutive AFC championship game? I do believe so. Can they go to back-to-back Super Bowls? Yes. They have done it before. Can they win back-to-back Super Bowls? Yes. It all depends on if they stay healthy and the defense continues ascending as it did in the second half of last season. If all of this does happen, you will be looking at your first repeat Super Bowl champion in over two decades.
In doing so, this will only add to the mystique that is Patrick Mahomes. At this point, you must look at Patrick as an anomaly. He is not only doing things we have never seen before, but also is the only star athlete I have seen that continues to be humble, continues to be sincere in his words and actions, and continues to push forward and execute no matter the spotlight or pressure. At this point, we would be smart to sit back and enjoy the show, because we may never see anything like this in our lifetime again.