KC Chiefs 2021 free agency overview: Predicting who will stay or leave

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Byron Pringle #13 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts prior to Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Byron Pringle #13 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts prior to Super Bowl LIV against the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs
Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Chiefs free agents as likely to return as not

Anthony Sherman, Fullback (UFA)

Sherman fits the mold of what the Chiefs typically keep on the roster: a reliable veteran presence who does his job well and is a good special teams addition. The question here is if he fits into Veach’s budget. Sherman doesn’t make much, but he does make more than a younger player would. Given his lack of playing time, the team could certainly move on. However, his odds are likely greater to return if he truly is willing to take less money to chase rings, as he told Good Morning Football on Friday.

Demarcus Robinson, Wide Receiver (UFA)

Last offseason it seemed like Robinson was destined to leave Kansas City and get a decent contract offer from another club. However, like many wideouts on last year’s free agent market, the offer never came and the Chiefs were able to bring Robinson back on a team-friendly, $2.1 million deal. With another deep draft and free agent class at the position, it’s possible that the five year veteran is in the same boat this spring. If that’s the case, it’s fair to suspect he may be back in K.C. once again.

Deon Yelder, Tight End (RFA)

It seems like every year we think Kansas City is going to invest in a TE2 and then we end up with guys like Nick Keizer and Deon Yelder. I’m over guessing that we’re going to bring in a legit number two man behind Kelce, and I’m now resigned to the fact that cheap contracts and non-receiving threats are the direction the team is heading on this position, in perpetuity. With Keizer under contract, someone will be the Chiefs third tight end in 2021, it could easily be Yelder on another minimum-type deal. As a restricted free agent, the Chiefs hold the right of first refusal so we’ll know what they think of him soon.

Keleche Osemele, Guard (UFA)

It was unfortunate that the Chiefs only got to have Osemele on the starting line for five games in 2020. He was outstanding through the season’s first five weeks and was well on his way to earning another contract this spring. Injury cost him the rest of the season, and as a result, it’s possible (if not probable) that he’s looking at another one-year, prove-it type deal—that is, if he’s still interested in playing. If that’s how the market materializes, the Kansas City should be all over it.

Tanoh Kpassagnon, Edge Rusher (UFA)

Like the cornerback and center positions, the Chiefs may (and should) look to upgrade the edge position this offseason. Kpassagnon has never really developed into the player Kansas City thought he could be when they used a second round pick on him in 2017. He registered only one sack despite 15 starts in 2020. He’s versatile, and can play inside and outside. The Chiefs like versatile. Maybe he’ll be back or, more likely, maybe Kansas City finds someone with more upside.

Alex Okafor, Defensive End (Void, UFA)

Like Kpassagnon, Okafor was given every opportunity to grab hold of the DE2 position opposite Frank Clark and earn another contract with the team. Despite a promising 2019 campaign which saw the veteran secure five sacks in 10 games prior to season ending injury, 2020 saw regression (and more injuries) with three sacks in 11 games. In addition, he was demoted on the depth chart and played second string to Kpassagnon. The Chiefs need upgrades here, and cannot afford to remain stagnant.

Mike Pennel, Defensive Tackle (UFA)

Mike Pennel was brought in during the 2019 season and played incredibly well in run defense for the Chiefs throughout their Super Bowl run. In 2020, he was fine, but not as effective as a season ago. And, he offers essentially no upside as a pass rusher for a team that really needs a strong pass rush. They may bring him back for another go, but for the team’s sake, one has to hope that Khalen Saunders can regain active roster status and make Pennel superfluous.

Ben Niemann, Linebacker (RFA)

This experiment has to end. It really has to end. Andy is very loyal; maybe it doesn’t end. But it has to end. Neimann is a restricted free agent, but it doesn’t mean the Chiefs have to keep him.

Charvarius Ward, Cornerback (RFA)

If you’d asked us one year ago if the Chiefs would/should extend cornerback Charvarius Ward, we’d have said absolutely. Most believe(d) that he is (was) one of Brett Veach’s greatest acquisitions. And let’s be clear, the fourth year pro isn’t bad, he’s also just really not all that good. He did not appear to progress much in 2020, while rookie L’Jarius Sneed was outstanding and second year corner Rashad Fenton appeared to ascend some. The Chiefs will try to bring Ward back if the money is right, but the problem is that cornerbacks often get more than they should, especially young ones. Young corners with Super Bowl experience are just the types of RFAs who other teams may be willing to give up a day three draft pick for.