The season is over for Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah after he suffered a tore his pectoral muscle. What does this mean for the offseason?
It is official: Emmanuel Ogbah’s season is over.
The Kansas City Chiefs pass rusher is going under the knife after tearing a pectoral muscle during the team’s loss on Sunday to the Tennessee Titans, making an already shocking day even more painful. Ogbah was, after all, the team’s surprising leader in sacks.
Even the sunniest outlooks on Ogbah’s addition to the team could not have seen this coming. After all, the attention on defensive imports rightly went to defensive end Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu. Even from there, Alex Okafor was a much bigger signing than the trade that brought Ogbah over.
That trade was, at the time, nothing more than a switch of spare parts between two general managers overly familiar with the other. The Chiefs sent safety Eric Murray over to John Dorsey and the Cleveland Browns for Ogbah. It was a deal that felt like Dorsey called and said, “Hey, I’d love to have my guy over here.” Maybe Chiefs GM Brett Veach replied, “We’re throwing pasta at the wall here as we redo our pass rush. Gimme another option.”
That’s a lazy take, to be sure. The feel-good version is that Veach liked Ogbah coming into the draft and never had a chance to grab him. He kept the scouting report on file and, now in power, used his knowledge to grab a guy who never lived up to his draft buzz as a former second rounder with the Browns. It wouldn’t be the first time a guy had left Cleveland having not reached his potential.
However it went down, Veach deserves serious credit for unearthing such an ideal fit for what Steve Spagnuolo wants to do. The presence of the aforementioned players—Clark, Okafor and, of course, Chris Jones—have allowed Ogbah to take advantage of those pass rushing situations. Together, the Chiefs front line has really grown as a unit and they’re becoming consistently disruptive.
Now, however, the season is over for Ogbah in a year in which he’s scheduled to be a free agent. What happens to a player who was putting up the hoped-for stats in a contract year who then becomes injured? It’s impossible to say.
Here’s what we know: Ogbah seems like an ideal fit for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as a rotational pass rusher. Perhaps Ogbah likes it here in Kansas City, a team with a perennial MVP candidate and dynamic offense that will always be in the hunt for a championship ring as long as Patrick Mahomes is in place. The Chiefs are a respected team. Andy Reid is a player’s coach. There’s a lot for a player like Ogbah to like here.
Then again, the NFL is always ready to reward pass rushers. Ogbah, even in a half season, has shown what he can do away from Cleveland and it might have been just enough of a sample size to reward him on an open market in which multiple teams will have more than $100 million to play with in free agency.
Perhaps a good comparison here is Henry Anderson, a situational pass rusher at defensive end for the New York Jets who broke out in 2018 with 7 sacks for the Jets after coming over from the Indianapolis Colts. Health and consistency were problems in Indy, but in a contract year, Anderson closed his rookie deal with those 7 sacks and earned an extended stay in New York with a 3-year, $25 million deal in free agency.
Ogbah has a stronger pass rushing history than Anderson did and was on pace for much better numbers as well in a contract year. However, a torn pectoral muscle is nothing to sneeze at and any team who signs him is going to want to factor that into account. Perhaps it all evens out and Ogbah earns a multi-year deal somewhere between $8 to $10 million per season.
The market will have several other interesting players, to be sure, so if the Chiefs are patient, they might find Ogbah still there. Or maybe both sides can agree to a deal before then. Then again, the Chiefs could always take the compensatory pick and call it a win of a deal even for a half season of productivity.
If I had to take an uneducated guess, I’d say that the Chiefs already have six players under contract that are vital to the defensive front for 2020. Clark and Okafor and Tanoh Kpassagnon are in place as ends, while Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders are all under contract inside, although those labels are versatile, to be sure. The bottom line is that with six other players under contract, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to shell out close to $10 million/year for a seventh, even if he’s one of your most productive. Given Okafor’s expense, the Chiefs would do well to find a rotational lineman in the draft’s middle rounds.
No matter how this turns out, Ogbah has been a very nice find for Veach in an offseason dominated by flashier moves. Here’s hoping his surgery goes well and that Ogbah finds himself as productive as before no matter where he ends up (unless it’s Oakland, L.A. or Denver).