With just under three weeks to go until the Chiefs preseason opener, it’s about time to utter those three sacred words: “Football is back.”
For the Chiefs, this offseason was all about improving the offensive line, with the team investing heavily on Orlando Brown Jr. and Joe Thuney, among others. The Chiefs drafted also drafted Nick Bolton, a linebacker from Missouri with their first pick in this years draft, and signed Jarran Reed, a defensive tackle, this spring. But aside from that, they focused mainly on the offensive line.
Even though it’s late July, there are still some free agents that could bring real value to this Chiefs team. Since the team’s efforts rested mainly on offense this offseason, let’s take a look at some of the remaining defensive free agents that might help bolster that side of the ball, for this preseason and beyond.
Now, further I go on, I’ll note that players still available in late July usually aren’t without their drawbacks. Often, remaining players are going to have recent injury history or are getting up there in age. That said, I’m eyeing these players as supplemental pieces, ones to bolster depth while hopefully providing some nice upside. So, none of these picks are going to be flashy fix-all types.
Without further ado, here are some defensive free agents that Chiefs might want to take a look at.
1. Olivier Vernon, DL
I’m partly contradicting myself with this pick, considering I said these selections could help the Chiefs in the preseason. Vernon, who ruptured his Achilles in Week 17 of 2020, would almost certainly be unavailable for the preseason and a good chunk of the regular season. A ruptured Achilles will usually sideline a player for close to a year, so a realistic return for Vernon would probably be the late regular season.
If it was any other player, this injury would disqualify a player from this list. Vernon, however, was having an excellent year for the Browns last year before suffering the injury. He racked up 9 sacks and 16 QB hits in 14 games, and was in consideration for an extension before he went down.
Since entering the league in 2012, Vernon has just two seasons with fewer than 6 sacks. The Chiefs plan on playing football well into January, so adding a guy like Vernon could be worth it even if he really only adds value in the playoffs. I think he could play a similar role to Terrell Suggs back in ’19-20, but if Vernon can produce close to his ’20 clip, he might be a steal for a Chiefs team that could use a little depth at EDGE, especially for the playoffs.