L.J. Fort may not be a big name in the NFL, but he’s a quality run stopper and great special teams player and the Chiefs could use both of those things. The Chiefs currently have an opening in their base defense with Damien Wilson a free agent. The Baltimore Ravens had to release Fort to clear some salary cap space, but it only takes a scroll through Twitter to see that most Baltimore fans are not happy to see him go.
Fort wasn’t an every down player for the Ravens, but in his 400+ defensive snaps he played well enough to be PFF’s ninth highest graded linebacker and had their fourth highest run defense grade. He was adequate in pass coverage, but if the Chiefs feel like he could man Wilson’s old starting spot, his run defense and special teams skills would be worth the signing alone. Fort shouldn’t command a hefty contract and this would be a great addition to the roster.
Avery Williamson would have been a much bigger target in free agency if he hadn’t had a rough year last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Williamson was especially bad in coverage where he was actually the fourth lowest graded linebacker in coverage by PFF last season. However, Williamson had missed the entire previous season with an ACL injury and may have just taken some time to bounce back. He still graded really well in the run department.
Williamson is just 29 years old so it’s not crazy to think he could rebound from his down year last season. Plus, if KC thinks he’s a fit for Wilson’s spot in the base defense, his coverage issues would be less of an issue and he could focus more on his run game where he was still strong last year. If Williamson wants to be paid like last season didn’t happen the Chiefs will probably look elsewhere, but if he’s looking for a place to sign a one-year deal to prove that last season was a fluke, KC might make some sense.
Fall Back Option: Damien Wilson
While Damien Wilson wasn’t amazing last season, he wasn’t awful either. He’s okay against the run and has some much needed intensity to his game. If the Chiefs wanted to bring him back on a veteran minimum type of deal and focus on improving other spots on the roster, I wouldn’t hate the idea. I’m guessing Anthony Hitchens and Willy Gay will get the bulk of the linebacker snaps this season anyway.
Next up, some cornerback options.