This offseason, we’re likely going to see a seismic shift in the personnel competing along the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line. Some contracts are already up, and other players will be released. It’s even possible that Mitchell Schwartz retires. Due to this, the Chiefs are going to likely import a number of new faces—from higher investments in the draft to low-level free agent signings.
One face who could be an important part of a rebuilt line could be former New Orleans Saints center Nick Easton. The Saints saved several million on the cap by releasing him in recent days, but the addition of Easton on a cheaper deal could bolster the second unit with the sort of plug-and-play option that allowed the Chiefs to get through so many games successfully this season.
Going forward, it might sound good on the surface to bring back as many faces as the Chiefs can for yet another year, but it’s important to note that some offensive linemen for the Chiefs are getting older and older.
Stefen Wisniewski was a great signing for the Chiefs in 2019 as a midseason upgrade on the left side of the offensive interior. Last year, he provided some security on the line but was mostly relegated to a backup role until late in the postseason. Next month, he turns 33. That’s not the sort of option you likely want to bring back yet again.
Daniel Kilgore played in 7 games for the Chiefs and made four starts at center, mostly at midseason when the Chiefs were clearly rethinking their commitment to Austin Reiter. Yet no one should have a second thought about bringing him back as a replacement level backup who will turn 34 late next season.
Speaking of Reiter, he’s held onto the center role for the better part of two years now for the Chiefs, but the drop in quality from the days of Mitch Morse and Rodney Hudson is quite clear and it’s hard to picture the Chiefs rolling into next year depending on Reiter in the middle. Perhaps he comes back on a cheap deal as an obvious sub, but he’s up for free agency and he’ll be 30 next season.
Kelechi Osemele looked great early on as a mauler at left guard for the Chiefs, but a season-ending injury means that he will enter this coming year as a 32-year-old lineman with torn tendons in both knees.
Mike Remmers is also slated for free agency, but he’s the lone lineman who makes the best candidate to return given the tremendous job he did week after week filling in all over the line. He came in for Osemele at left guard and then supplanted Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle before taking over for Eric Fisher in the biggest game of the year.
Don’t let the results of the season’s final loss ruin your perception of Remmer’s full body of work. He was exactly what the Chiefs hoped with such an offseason signing. Then again, Remmers is soon to be 32-years-old and, at some point soon, he’s likely to hit the proverbial wall that keeps most players from extending their careers as long as they’d like.
This is why Easton becomes a name to know. Easton is presently only 28, which gives him a few years on each of the aforementioned, and he comes in as a versatile player with a lot of pro experience at both guard and center. He signed a four-year, $23 million deal with the Saints just two years ago, and he’d likely still be with them as their own interior version of Remmers if they weren’t cash-strapped.
We recently reached out to Nathan Beighle of Who Dat Dish, our Saints sister site in the FanSided network, to tell us more about Easton. He told us:
The 28-year-old Nick Easton is at the point in his career where he has starter upside, but when he signs, he’ll likely be with the second team. Despite starting nine games, Easton was sidelined for a handful with concussions. Given OL injuries, it’s nice to have a talented backup and that will be what Easton is. He’s been a stabilizing force for New Orleans, and he’s been able to guard without holding. Easton had just one penalty all of last season He’s also versatile as a guard or center. Easton should have a solid market as his salary likely won’t command that much from a team. OL is an increasing important unit for teams, so Easton should have a hot market given his versatility and use.
The signing of someone like Easton would go a long way toward making sure the team has experience and security inside, a dependable presence still young enough to likely play for a couple more years. The Chiefs can still import a few new starters, but injuries are bound to happen in any given season, which means Easton would be ready and waiting in any such instance at any point in the interior.
The Chiefs do have Nick Allegretti at guard, and Andrew Wylie is also a free agent. Both are young and come with starting experience. If the Chiefs lean on Reiter for another season, then Easton makes zero sense and this whole point is moot. However, if the Chiefs are ready to turn the page at center, Easton could bolster the line there and provide another option at guard next to the younger guys already in the fold.
Trotting out last year’s linemen made sense when running it back, but reinventing the line after yet another year means that some familiar faces really need to go. It’s nothing personal; it’s just the nature of getting older in a very tough sport. Easton could be a nice low-level signing available now before the free agent frenzy begins next month.