Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders has an infectious personality and the athleticism NFL prospects dream of. But his career beyond 2022 is far from certain.
Like Thornhill, Saunders’ 2019 season remains his career’s pinnacle. He recorded 303 snaps in his rookie year, with a sack and 17 tackles. For a depth defensive tackle in his rookie year, that production was respectable and a solid start. However, Saunders has lost considerable ground and opportunities due to injury. He landed on the IR not once, but twice in as many seasons.
Saunders felt far from a roster lock entering the 2022 season. But, the Chiefs retained him while cutting both Taylor Stallworth and Danny Shelton. The team still has some trust in him, and Saunders needs to prove his doubters wrong in 2022.
Just staying on the field would go a long way. Saunders has not recorded more than 145 defensive snaps since 2019, and he has struggled to produce in limited opportunities. That can be attributed to below-average defensive line development, limited rehab, or all of the above. However, Saunders has not produced much and has not provided a reason for teams to seek his services.If Saunders hit the open market right now, what would his contract be like? Better yet, would he have a contract? Players can only live off of potential and athleticism for so long.
A payday, or career period. That is what Saunders is playing for in 2022.