Laurent Duvernay-Tardif made it clear he plans to return to the Chiefs in 2021.
In a postseason where the Kansas City Chiefs are still hoping their patchwork offensive line can hold up for another Super Bowl run, the team at least got some good news for next season when former starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif announced he would return in 2021.
NBC Sports recently conducted an interview with Duvernay-Tardif, and the lineman told them, “I look forward to a lot more football to come and being back on the field next season. Stay safe and go Chiefs!”
For the sake of review, Duvernay-Tardif was the first player in the National Football League to opt out for the season due to COVID-19. The Chiefs lost two more players to the same—offensive lineman Lucas Niang, who was the team’s third round pick, and running back Damien Williams. For LDT, the move was about utilizing his medical training to help serve alongside others who were working on the front lines against a global pandemic in his native Quebec.
The Chiefs have been trying to solve the offensive line picture ever since they lost both Duvernay-Tardif and Niang. The initial news cost them a long-term starter and a rookie ready to plug in. From there, any ability to create a new front line was tested by injuries. Kelechi Osemele tore tendons in both knees on the same play in the season’s first month. Mitchell Schwartz has been an ironman at right tackle until this season, in which he’s sat every game since Week 6 due a back injury. Mike Remmers also missed a couple games in relief of Schwartz.
What the Chiefs have seen this season, instead, is the emergence of Nick Allegretti from former seventh round pick to long-term starter at guard. Andrew Wylie has held down the right guard position in LDT’s absence. The team has rotated Austin Reiter and Daniel Kilgore at center at times, and even names like Yasir Durant, Patrick Omameh, Stefen Wisniewski, Martinas Rankin, and Danny Isidora have earned snaps this season.
This spring, Osemele, Reiter, and Remmers will all hit unrestricted free agency and Andrew Wylie is a restricted free agent as well. It’s hard to say what will happen with Schwartz going forward, but a long-term back injury could force one side or the other to cut short a contract that runs through the 2021 season. Only Eric Fisher remains in place as a dependable starter from before and after Duvernay-Tardif’s return.
That makes LDT’s announcement so welcome at this point. Stability is on the way for next season from a player who will be fresh from a year away from the game. No one should doubt Duvernay-Tardif’s readiness given his ability to put in the work required to both start for a Super Bowl-winning team and pursue his education as a medical doctor. In 2021, Chiefs fans should expect him to step right back into his role at right guard and provide some much needed experience next to positions that might be changing as the team moves forward.