After a disappointing home AFC Championship loss, general manager Brett Veach and the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t rest on their laurels.
Instead of relying on Patrick Mahomes to carry the team to victory weekly, the team opted to fix their “broken” defense. The first move to do so was firing defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and replacing him with Steve Spagnuolo — who will run a 4-3 scheme.
The Chiefs didn’t stop at a coaching change. To supplement Spagnuolo’s defense, Veach traded for pass-rusher Frank Clark, interior defender Emmanuel Ogbah, and linebacker Darron Lee.
But, they didn’t stop there. In free agency, the team brought in safety Tyrann Mathieu, pass-rusher Alex Okafor, and cornerback Bashaud Breeland. In the draft, they added rangy defensive back, Juan Thornhill, as well.
The culmination of their plentiful defensive additions is three defenders on the roster bubble.
The Chiefs aren’t shy parting ways with talent, as shown by the release of Eric Berry, so don’t be surprised if any of these three familiar faces end up being cap casualties.
3. Reggie Ragland – linebacker
Back in 2016, the Bills traded away Reggie Ragland, a 3-4 inside linebacker, to the Chiefs due to his lack of fit in a 4-3 system.
Now, with the Chiefs making the same 3-4 to 4-3 switch, Ragland looks to be outsider once again. That statement becomes truer when considering the Chiefs’ upgrades at the position. In ’18 they signed then-free agent Anthony Hitchens, in ’19, they traded for former first-rounder Darron Lee — both appear to be starters in the 4-3.
In 2018, Ragland proved his worth as a blitzer, but his limitations in coverage were obvious. He’s a big, physical linebacker that can stop the run as a MIKE, but that won’t cut it in the 4-3.
Though he’s useful as a blitzing linebacker in specific formations, it’s not likely that he’ll start over their current talents at the position.
But, the Chiefs should be able to get trade value for him from a 3-4 linebacker-needy team as he’s just 25 years old and is on a cheaper salary for 2019.
2. Daniel Sorensen – safety
With Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, and ’18 rookie Armani Watts in-fold, Daniel Sorensen’s roster spot on the Chiefs looks to be anything but safe.
Although the Chiefs extended the safety in 2016, his sluggish play has worn thin with the team and their fans alike. His recent injury history (10 games missed in the past two regular seasons) doesn’t do him any favors either.
Admittingly, Sorensen played well in the AFC Championship vs. the Patriots, but far too often Chiefs fans found him blowing coverage or a tackle. His inconsistent play led to a lowly 60.9 Pro Football Focus grade in ’18.
Parting ways with the six-year safety would give opportunities for their younger talent to develop and would save $2.7 million in cap space in ’19, per Over The Cap.
1. Xavier Williams – interior defensive line
In ’18, the Chiefs brought in Xavier Williams to help stop the run. But, the Grandview product didn’t quite do that.
In his first season as a Chief, the interior run-stuffer started just four games and tallied just 47 total tackles and 2.5 sacks — not the production the Chiefs wanted to see after signing him in free agency.
The Chiefs appear to have found Williams’ replacements. Emmanuel Ogbah and Khalen Saunders are both younger than Williams and show far more promise at the position.
Like Sorensen, their recent additions and new-found youthfulness at the position make it tough for Williams to make the roster.
Luckily, Kansas City can part ways with the former Cardinal and can save $1.8 million in cap space by doing so, per OTC.