Where do the Kansas City Chiefs go from here?
What a difference 60 minutes of football makes.
Heading into Super Bowl LV, the Kansas City Chiefs were riding high. The defending champions went 14-2 in the regular season and reigned supreme in the AFC for a second straight year.
And then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throttled them.
Chiefs shouldn't panic following Super Bowl LV
As humbling as Sunday’s 31-9 defeat was, though, Chiefs fans should not panic. For various reasons, Kansas City is set to be among the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy for years to come, and while some Super Bowl losers dejectedly ask, “where do we go from here?,” perhaps the better question for the Chiefs is, “how do we reload for the 2021 season?”
The biggest reason Kansas City fell Sunday night was their offensive line. The Chiefs were playing without several starters against a front seven that had finally hit its stride after an inconsistent season, and Patrick Mahomes seemed like he was running for his life almost every time he dropped back to pass.
Chiefs have big decisions to make as free agency looms
Offensive tackle Eric Fisher was one of the missing starters, and it’ll be interesting to see what Kansas City does with him. He’s been named to two Pro Bowls, but he’s also just turned 30, played just eight games during the 2019 campaign, and sat out Super Bowl LV due to an injury. He’ll be entering the final year of a $48 million contract this coming season. Does Kansas City hang onto Fisher, or do the Chiefs attempt to move on and spend that money elsewhere?
Another set of decisions comes in the backfield. Clyde Edwards-Helaire wasn’t a game-changer, but he showed promise in his rookie season, totaling 1,100 scrimmage yards and scoring five touchdowns. Behind him, though, are some significant question marks. Le’Veon Bell and Darrel Williams could both be free agents, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see one or both of them be allowed to test the market.
Breeland and Okafor could be shown the door
The Chiefs also have a tough call to make in the secondary. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland, a starter in each of the past two seasons, is set to hit the market. He’s a veteran who has signed one-year contracts with the squad twice before. It wouldn’t be a shock if he came back on a similar deal, but he’s due to turn 30 later this month, and that’s not insignificant.
An opportunity to free up some money, though, could come by cutting ties with defensive end Alex Okafor. He’s entering the final season of a three-year deal worth nearly $18 million, but he saw less than 28% of Kansas City’s defensive snaps in 2020 (down from 38.5% in 2019). Okafor was a fine player for both Arizona and New Orleans earlier in his career, but he certainly doesn’t seem like an ideal fit in Kansas City. At a time when the team may want to find some money, he may be deemed surplus to requirements.
Kansas City should remain a force in the AFC
All in all, though, it’s important to stress that Chiefs fans have no reason to panic. Mahomes is set to be an elite quarterback for the next decade-plus, and after Sunday night, the brass was reminded how important it is to protect that precious commodity and give him every chance to succeed. This front office has built a perennial title contender, and there’s no reason to think they’ll take an unwise course of action this offseason.