Earlier this week, the K.C. Chiefs decided to re-sign free agent defensive end Alex Okafor to a one-year deal that will bring him back for a third season with the team. It was the anticipated response to a need for a bit more security and consistency at a position of need, as the Chiefs looked thin on the edge heading into training camp in late July.
For some, the move was a sort of transactional shrug. That makes sense given that there are “sexier” names available on the free agent list. An unknown quantity will always be more attractive than a known one. It’s the reason why the NFL Draft is so compelling, and it’s also true of unfamiliar players over familiar ones, at least in this instance.
Yes, it is true that Okafor is not that compelling of a signing. There’s a reason why the Chiefs allowed him to enter free agency in the first place along with Taco Charlton and Tanoh Kpassagnon. Charlton was brought back quickly on the hopes that he could provide solid disruption as a rotational piece for minimal investment. From there, the Chiefs took their time in the hopes the market would offer up other options, via free agency or the draft.
Yes, the Chiefs did draft Joshua Kaindoh, but he represents the very definition of a developmental project as a player with all tools and little production. The Chiefs are also shifting Chris Jones outside now that Jarran Reed is also on the roster, but that’s all an experiment waiting to play out in the preseason. Just how much we see Jones opposite Frank Clark is anyone’s guess.
The KC Chiefs made sure their response was a proportional one at defensive end.
Speaking of Clark, there’s a cloud hanging around the legal proceedings that will play out for the next few weeks and months that could lead to a suspension for the Chiefs pass rusher. It all seems a bit extreme and even unlikely at this point, but given the uncertainty, the Chiefs could ill afford to enter the season with the potential of having Jones move outside playing opposite Charlton or Mike Danna or Tim Ward as their primary pillars.
In Okafor, the Chiefs have a known quantity, a player who is very familiar with the scheme and his teammates, and when healthy has proven he can deliver a decent performance at defensive end. He’s not going to significantly alter the outcome of a game, but he’s also not going to embarrass the Chiefs with poor technique or silly mistakes.
Some fans would have enjoyed seeing the Chiefs pay for one of the few remaining “name” players on the market—perhaps Olivier Vernon or Melvin Ingram—but those guys were also sitting available for a reason. They were the more desired unknowns while Okafor was the known factor. However, the Chiefs didn’t need to move heaven and earth to feel better about things at defensive end. They just needed to add back who they allowed to leave in the first place.
Chiefs Kingdom (at least part of it) was holding out hope for a headline move, but instead the Chiefs served up a proportional response. It’s not exciting or even that memorable, but it’s the sort of mature response that provides what’s needed instead of what was wanted. It’s also the right move.