In the past several weeks there’s been growing speculation that’s surfaced regarding free agent guard Evan Mathis and whether or not he could end up signing with the Kansas City Chiefs. Once wonderman Justin Houston was re-signed, freeing up an extra $8 million in cap space in 2015, these same speculators have resurfaced even stronger.
For a full breakdown of Justin Houston’s deal go to ProFootballTalk here.
First of all, understand that this “speculating” wouldn’t be happening unless the Chiefs needed a quality Pro Bowl level starting guard. The question is, how much do they need a guy like the 33-year-old Mathis? Finding that out may inform us of just how strongly they end up making a pitch to him and his agent.
Every offseason we pump up the dreams for our home team, the Kansas City Chiefs, and imagine what it will take for them to make it to the Super Bowl. However, the realities of winning the Super Bowl begins with first winning their AFC West division. Furthermore, winning the division this year may just come down to answering one question: which team has the best offensive line?
According to FootballOutsiders.com, in 2014 the offensive line rankings for each AFC West team looks like this (rankings represent the teams’ placement in the league as a whole, 1-32):
It’s no surprise that the Chiefs were both first and last in the AFC West when it comes to run and pass blocking. The Chiefs pass blocking was so bad they almost came in last in the league. FootballOutsiders.com has calculated an “Adjusted Sack Rate” and according to that the Chiefs were less than two percentage points from finishing last in the league… but enough about how bad the Chiefs “were” in 2014… let’s visit the changes each team has made this offseason to their offensive lines.
This chart is represents a projected and prospective list for each team
and there will likely be changes for each team before September.
Oddly enough, in June, den.247Sports.com ranked the offensive lines in the AFC West like this:
1. San Diego Chargers
2. Oakland Raiders
3. Denver Broncos
4. Kansas City Chiefs
I can understand why the Chargers rank first as they added solid guard Orlando Franklin. However, he was a loss for Denver. Denver has also already lost starting left tackle and Pro Bowl performer Ryan Clady for the year so I would have ranked the Broncos last and the Chiefs in a tie with the Raiders, possibly third.
It’s clear that Kansas City needs another high level performer along the offensive line. Of all of the Chiefs’ starters, I would currently rank right guard as the weakest on the whole team. So, not only is there a need on the Chiefs offensive line but Mathis fits the highest need that the Chiefs have on their roster… aside from another top level wide receiver. And, I don’t believe one of those guys (a top shelf wide receiver) is out there to be had.
The Chiefs could use their new found extra cap money to strengthen the inside linebacker position or sign a good backup to Dontari Poe or bring in a tight end to help solidify that position. However, in every case, there is not a top level performer available that’s comparable to what Mathis would bring to the inner core of the offensive line.
Next: What does Mathis say he's looking for?