One way to look at this issue is who is going to replace these players should they depart. With Jaye Howard the Chiefs have decent defensive line depth in Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Nick Williams, Mike DeVito and sixth-round draft pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches. However, DeVito is coming off a down year after suffering a year long Achilles injury and Williams and Nunez-Roches are incredibly raw.
This is not to say that the defensive line depth is poor, far from it. However, would you trust Williams or Nunez-Roches starting in place of Howard, week in, week out?
It wouldn’t be the worst situation in the world. Far from it. But how does it compare to the situation at corner?
As we all know, during Smith’s early-season suspension Marcus Cooper and Jamell Fleming collectively proved to everyone that they are not good enough for the NFL. This leaves us with Steven Nelson and Philip Gaines. Nelson will be entering his crucial second season, and if he can develop on his late season performances in the slot, then this would allow Bob Sutton to move Gaines to the outside if Smith does indeed depart.
All this leaves us with the question, how good is Gaines, and how good could he be?