If you’ve been reading my ramblings on the Kansas City Chiefs for very long you may recall that last offseason I was the guy obsessively ranting about how the team’s success was reliant on them stabilizing the offensive line. The 2014 offensive line was a complete dumpster fire (seriously, my dreams are still tormented by visions of Mike McGlynn being pushed around like a shopping cart). In 2015 the offensive line was better, especially in the second half of the season, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. For example, Alex Smith was the third most sacked quarterback in the NFL last season. So what does Kansas City need to do in order to continue to improve the offensive line in 2016? As you probably expected, I have a few ideas……
1. Re-sign Jeff Allen
Confession time, I was dead wrong on Jeff Allen. During the 2015 offseason there were a lot of KC fans that had Jeff Allen penciled into the starting lineup. I was not one of them. My argument was that Allen had been a below average starter prior to missing time with an injury in 2014 so why should anyone count on him being more than that in 2015? I argued that his only shot was at right tackle because he didn’t have the strength to anchor on the interior. Well, Allen proved me wrong as he stepped in for an injured Ben Grubbs and locked down the left guard position for the remainder of the season.
Jeff Allen is only 26 years old and seems to still be improving as a player. He has responded to the Chiefs coaching staff and isn’t a big enough name in the league to demand a huge contract. While the Chiefs could use some more talent added to the roster on the offensive line, there is also value in consistency. The combination of Eric Fisher at left tackle, Jeff Allen at left guard, and Mitch Morse at center give the Chiefs a young ascending trio that would also provide some consistency going into next season. Simply put, re-signing Allen should be at the top of GM John Dorsey’s to-do list.
Last offseason I was overjoyed at the acquisition of Ben Grubbs, thought Donald Stephenson might have a future in KC, and was ready to move on from Jeff Allen. Now Allen is the only one I see a future for in Kansas City. Which brings me to point number two…..
2. Move on from Ben Grubbs and Donald Stephenson
As I just mentioned, I though bringing in Ben Grubbs was the best move of KC’s offseason last year. However, not only did Grubbs miss most of the season, his play before he got hurt was disappointing. Point blank, Jeff Allen was better at left guard. He’s younger and as I also mentioned above he can form a part of a long term unit with Fisher and Morse. That makes Ben Grubbs expendable. While cutting Grubbs would leave KC with about $5 million in dead money next season it would also clear up about $1.1 million in cap space this year and another $4.6 million in 2017. While I hate the idea of dead cap space, I hate the idea of playing an inferior player just because you gave him a contract last season. I would cut ties and move on with Allen.
As far as Donald Stephenson goes, I think we can all agree that 2015 was a huge disappointment. The naturally talented Stephenson basically blew an opportunity to claim both the left and right tackle spots for the Chiefs. By the end of the season it was clear that he would never be more than a reserve swing-tackle in KC. When the Chiefs showed that they had more faith in “signed off the street” Jah Reid than Stephenson it was a sign that his days in KC were numbered. If you’ve been holding out hope that KC would bring Donald back next season, I think its time for you to move on.
Now on to move number three….
Next: Adding OL talent in the draft