There's absolutely no way for us to know for sure, but as a Denver Broncos reporter at least tried to put the pieces together, we have to admit that he's sure making a lot of sense. And if his inclinations are correct, it means the Kansas City Chiefs were trying to bring back Ben Niemann.
To begin the season, the unit was loaded with four starters for a defense that typically only plays two or three at any given time. Willie Gay Jr. was the elder statesman, the most athletic LB of all who was heading for a contract year. Nick Bolton was next to him as the unit's leader and team captain who anchored the team's run defense and was their best overall tackler. Waiting in the wings for more playing time was Leo Chenal, the youngest player who brought about a punishing style of play that allowed him to also showcase as a situational pass rusher.
And that was before Drue Tranquill was brought on board.
Tranquill, since his surprising signing to a one-year deal in free agency, has been a revelation at the position, a player whose ability to do several things well has allowed the entire defense to take a leap forward. Tranquill's ability to blitz or sit back in coverage allows defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to disguise his plans even more effectively than ever before. And the other three linebackers have all enjoyed stellar seasons in tandem with Tranquill as one dominant unit.
Then came Bolton's injury. Two games ago, the Chiefs lost Bolton in a late-game injury against the L.A. Chargers in Week 7 that turned out to be a dislocated wrist. Suddenly the Chiefs were staring at a two-month rehab window and a serious hole in their newly-dominant defense.
On Sunday, during the team's abysmal loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 8, Gay was forced to leave with a tailbone injury in the second half. Shortly thereafter, Tranquill was also injured although he was able to return to action. However, there was a stretch where Jack Cochrane was playing the MIKE role and serving as the main communicator next to Cam Jones and Chenal.
At this point, no one is certain of Gay's ability to play and Chiefs Kingdom is waiting on further details. Tranquill might still be ailing as well. Bolton is certainly out. The unit is limited and some help will be needed. That's why this makes a lot of sense to us:
Niemann would be quite familiar with Spagnuolo's plans given that he played in 62 games for the Chiefs from 2018-2021. In that span, he also made 12 starts, so most of that action came after Spags came on board. If the Chiefs were surveying the landscape for an easy fix, a player who could come right in and add some depth, Niemann was a solid thought.
Now, however, Niemann is firmly planted on the Broncos 53 and the Chiefs are likely looking at other options around the league. Let's just hope we're not hearing Dorian O'Daniel's name anytime soon.