Brett Veach has a penchant for unearthing the hidden gem for the K.C. Chiefs. It’s found in the emergence of an undrafted defensive tackle like Turk Wharton or the ability to land a potential lockdown corner like L’Jarius Sneed at the bottom of the fourth round. It’s seen in Nick Allegretti’s ability to step into a long-term starting role after being a seventh round selection, and in the ability of Darrel Williams to step up and provide productive reps in the backfield.
It’s also been displayed for the last two years by the presence of Austin Reiter at the center position.
When the Chiefs were heading into the 2018 season, Veach did some last-second shuffling of his second-string linemen. He traded Parker Ehinger for cornerback Charvarius Ward, and he brought in interior help in Ike Better from the Buffalo Bills and claimed Reiter on waivers from the Cleveland Browns. Former Chiefs GM John Dorsey was cleaning house in his new Ohio home, and Veach took a chance on a young center.
While Better didn’t last long in K.C., Reiter would end signing a contract extension with the team within three months to stay another two years. It was clear the team liked Reiter’s potential behind Mitch Morse, and that would be proven when Morse left to sign a four-year deal with Buffalo.
Austin Reiter was another hidden gem unearthed by Brett Veach.
It wasn’t the first time Reiter had turned heads. The Washington Redskins set Reiter free early in the 2016 season and the Browns snatched him up. It wasn’t long before Cam Erving—yes, that Cameron Erving—went down with an injury and Reiter had shown enough to earn a spot start. He looked impressive in that single game and had fans excited for a split second, but an ACL injury would rob him of that chance to lean in long-term into the role. During the next offseason, the Browns signed J.C. Tretter to man the role and the starting door was shut.
Over the last two years, Reiter has given the Chiefs a low-cost starting option at center with 28 total starts, save for four games this season in which the Chiefs decided to look at veteran Daniel Kilgore in the role (along with a Week 17 rest date). That switcheroo made it clear that the team wasn’t overly pleased with the quality of play up front, or the combination of players, for one reason or another, but that whole move has also taken away a lot of earned credit from Reiter in the process.
The Washington Redskins made Reiter their seventh round pick out of South Florida back in the 2015 NFL Draft due to the ability of some decision-maker in the room who saw he had NFL potential. It might have taken some time and a different team to make it happen, but that initial impulse was right. It’s possible that a healthy season could have kept him in Cleveland for a while, but Reiter deserves credit for not letting one lost opportunity rob him of a solid NFL career.
Right now, Reiter stands on the precipice of a decent payday in free agency as a two-year starter in the interior for a Super Bowl team. While K.C. has reportedly decided to move on from Reiter this offseason, it shouldn’t shortchange what the player has provided after serving as a once forgettable waiver claim. It’s also further proof that Brett Veach has a real knack for landing unexpected value in the names that are often glossed over on the transaction wire.