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The Kansas City Chiefs continue to be active in the free-agent market searching for some bargain options as the second wave of free agency begins. They’ve got a pair of players scheduled to take visits this week. There are also other players out there that they’ve shown interest in as they look to improve the roster for 2021. So what are the Chiefs’ current roster needs and how should they be prioritizing them?
Here’s a quick countdown, ranking team needs heading into the latest portion of free agency:
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The Chiefs have one free agent at the defensive tackle position in Mike Pennel, but this position is very low on the priority list. They have three solid players in the rotation in Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton. They also need to see what they have in former third-round draft pick Khalen Saunders. He was a healthy scratch for most of last season with the rotation full, but I'd expect him to be involved this season. They could use a body or two more here, but I'd anticipate them finding them much later in free agency, in the draft, or perhaps in undrafted free agency following the draft.
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Outside of Travis Kelce and recently re-signed TE Blake Bell, the Chiefs' options at the tight end position are a bunch of journeymen. Really, what they need is someone who is a threat in the passing game behind Kelce in the event of the unthinkable happening. They've yet to find that player like that during Andy Reid's tenure, though, they've tried. I expect they'll continue looking in free agency and the draft even with the addition of Bell.
Slot or outside cornerback
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The Chiefs have a pair of cornerbacks who are currently unrestricted free agents (Bashaud Breeland and Antonio Hamilton). They already brought back Charvarius Ward and have some young talent on the roster, but they could certainly use some more depth in the slot or on the outside. They're bringing in former 49ers slot corner K'Waun Williams on Tuesday for a free agent visit. The thinking seems to be adding depth at the slot so you can allow players like L'Jarius Sneed and Tyrann Mathieu to play elsewhere. I wouldn't be surprised to see them add another corner after Williams too.
Dime linebacker / Safety No. 3
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Considering how often the Chiefs are in sub-package personnel on defense, this is a pretty big need. If the season started tomorrow the team would probably be looking at Armani Watts or Rodney Clemons playing this spot, neither of whom are proven. Daniel Sorensen remains a free agent and could be a good option to re-sign, but there are also an abundance of options and affordable ones compared to other positions in free agency. This is a spot where they could afford to wait and perhaps grab a bargain.
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Center should be high on the list of priorities, namely because their best starter right now would be Nick Allegretti. The only depth behind him would be an undrafted free agent from 2020 who has never played an NFL snap. We know that the Chiefs were in the market for a center now after reported interest in ex-Raiders C Rodney Hudson, who never made it to free agency. The market for free agent centers is very thin right now and the best option for Kansas City might be to re-sign their starter of the past two seasons, Austin Reiter.
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The Chiefs currently have two free-agent edge rushers and not many options on the roster across from or in relief of Frank Clark. The team re-signed DE Taco Charlton and they still have second-year DE Mike Danna. There's also a developmental option that flashed in Week 17 in DE Tim Ward. Beyond that, the cupboards are bare. The team is bringing in DE Melvin Ingram on Tuesday. If he's recovered from the knee injury that hampered him a season ago, he'd instantly be the second-best edge rusher on the team.
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The Chiefs have struck out during this free agency period when it comes to adding receivers, missing out on JuJu Smith-Schuster and now Josh Reynolds. It's clear to me that Kansas City wants to add another player there to help offset potential losses Demarcus Robinson and Sammy Watkins. The problem seems to be that free agents aren't buying into the Chiefs as a team where they can come and increase their value on a short-term deal. It might have something to do with the fact that none of the Chiefs' pending free agents, especially receivers, have signed elsewhere. Options remain limited in free agency at this position. There are still some good players out there such as T.Y. Hilton, Antonio Brown, and Golden Tate. I'm just not so sure how the team values them and if those players fit what Kansas City is looking for.
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This is the most glaring need for the Chiefs and the options to fill it prior to the 2021 NFL draft are limited. There don't appear to be any options available to Kansas City via trade and the options in free agency are very limited in terms of quality starters. At this point, you're looking at Russell Okung and Alejandro Villanueva or bust. It's also no guarantee that either player is better than Eric Fisher was a season ago. The longer the dance goes on, the more likely that this is a position that will be addressed early in the draft.