Kansas City showed interest in Minnesota free safety Antoine Winfield Jr. How would he fit within the Chiefs’ defense in 2020?
Last offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to make several changes on the defensive side of the ball. Coupled with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and position coaches, the Chiefs brought in vital pieces through free agency and the draft. Bob Sutton’s passive approach scheme hampered Kansas City against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. The organization moved on for a more aggressive approach in system and personnel.
Spagnuolo brought aggressiveness to the Chiefs’ defense that had been missing for some time. Moving players around to disguise coverages and blitz packages saw massive dividends. Gone with the days where quarterbacks knew what coverage they were facing pre-snap. Newly signed safety Tyrann Mathieu played a vital part in Spagnuolo’s ability to attack offenses. His versatility allowed Spagnuolo to deploy him in deep zone coverages, in the box, and coverage from the slot or boundary.
Having a Swiss army knife like Mathieu allowed Spagnuolo to mask other weaknesses within the defense. It’s similar to how Sutton used Eric Berry during his prime. Also Kansas City deployed 2019 rookie safety, Juan Thornhill. While he had most of his success playing on the back end of the defense, Thornhill could play near the line of scrimmage as well.
As the 2019 season progressed, Kendall Fuller came back from injury, playing more of a safety role. Even with Fuller playing in deeper zone coverages as a safety, Daniel Sorensen still saw just north of 50 percent in defensive snaps. As the NFL changes to more of a pass-heavy league, defenses are adjusting and deploying more than two safeties regularly.
While the Chiefs are still without a good coverage linebacker, they could look to address the issue in the second level of the defense with another safety. Kansas City is among several teams that interviewed Antoine Winfield Jr. over FaceTime recently. What would a player like him bring to the defense?