The Kansas City Chiefs actions will end up telling us just how dire the situation is at cornerback more than anything else.
From the outside looking in, the situation looks desperate.
One glimpse at the list of cornerbacks on the Kansas City Chiefs roster seems to counteract the dominant idea that the team is a Super Bowl contender. The offense, as an entire unit, looks ready to repeat as the league’s most dangerous. The remade pass rush still looks vicious with the swagger of Chris Jones and Frank Clark up front. The safeties also look formidable for the first time in years. Even the linebackers have plenty of competition from which to find a workable solution.
Then there’s the cornerbacks. They were the team’s glaring weakness a year ago and that was before losing longtime starter Steven Nelson to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A team that looks lacking in talent and thin in depth made two slight moves this entire offseason. They invested a sixth round draft pick in Rashad Fenton and they signed veteran Bashaud Breeland to a one-year deal to replace another one-year vet in Orlando Scandrick.
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Even before training camp began, the Chiefs were a cornerback-needy team. Every time Patrick Peterson rolls over in bed, the Chiefs wonder if he’s inching that much closer to the trade block. Anytime a representative from the Minnesota Vikings makes an announcement, Chiefs Kingdom wonders if it’s the moment Brett Veach will trade for Trae Waynes. Every tweet from Jalen Ramsey makes an entire region wonder if Veach will finally wiggle him from free from Jacksonville.
Yet here’s the thing: plenty of time has come and gone without a major move from Brett Veach. And Brett Veach is the king of major moves.
When Veach wants something, there’s very little that can stop his pit bull mentality from making it happen. He dreamed of a pass rush anchored by Frank Clark, so he moved heaven (Dee Ford) and earth (Justin Houston) to make it happen (along with a first and second round pick). That’s a massive reshuffle—with millions saved and spent and numerous assets trading hands—just to have Clark on the roster.
We’ve certainly heard rumors of such moves, which is why we keep waiting for one to actually happen. Remember, the Chiefs were reportedly the team who signed Kyle Fuller to an offer sheet only to have it matched by the Chicago Bears last offseason.
This offseason, the team’s own docuseries (The Franchise) shows footage of the team hoping that a couple cornerback prospects would fall to them in the second round in Washington’s Byron Murphy or Temple’s Rock Ya-Sin. The Chiefs clearly want a cornerback yet somehow they’re still missing these opportunities.
Now that training camp has begun, the Chiefs even lost one of the minor additions to the position for the season when Keith Reaser went down with a torn Achilles tendon. It was a competitive loss for a camp body and a journeyman hoping to turn a corner a starring turn with the Alliance of American Football.
Training camp has also shown how scary things could get if injuries take hold any further. Bashaud Breeland was forced to miss a couple days with a lacerated thumb. Charvarius Ward isn’t turning heads in camp like he did late last season. If he can’t develop or Breeland can’t stay on the field, the Chiefs are suddenly looking at D’Montre Wade and Herb Miller on the outside. Or maybe that’s Tremon Smith and Andrew Soroh. Or maybe that’s Dakari Monroe and Mark Fields. (You get the picture we’re painting here.)
We’re bringing up these scenarios because it will happen, given the natural attrition that happens on each roster during the rigors of an NFL regular season. The Chiefs would have to be extraordinarily lucky if they wanted to bank on Ward developing as hoped and Breeland and Kendall Fuller staying healthy on the outside and in the slot, respectively. A Super Bowl contender simply cannot take that risk. Or can they?
Maybe, just maybe, the situation isn’t that desperate after all. Maybe the Chiefs have much more hope in the camp bodies because they’ve seen them up close and know they have names to call on if they need them. Perhaps we’re just too unfamiliar with the body of work of guys like Rashad Fenton and that everything will be just fine.
Veach’s actions will tell us everything we need to know soon enough.