The 2019 NFL league year begins at 3pm on Wednesday. The past couple of days teams have been allowed to talk with unrestricted free agents from other teams. Many refer to these few days as the legal tampering period. Unlike in baseball, free agency in the NFL happens fast. Many deals are in place now and will be announced shortly after the new league year begins. The Chiefs are in the middle of all of it.
The Chiefs had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2018. Defense is the reason for every loss last season. A mediocre defense would likely have put Kansas City in the Super Bowl. The team and its fans do not want that to happen again. General Manager Brett Veach is trying to make sure the defense is improved for 2019.
On March 4 the Chiefs applied the franchise tag to linebacker Dee Ford. Ford had his best season in 2018 with 13 sacks. Unfortunately, he still struggled against the run and would cost the team $15.4 million. When the Chiefs tagged Ford the team said they would listen to any offers teams made for Ford in a trade.
Tuesday the Chiefs found a trade partner for Ford. The San Francisco 49ers agreed to trade the Chiefs a 2020 second round draft pick for Ford.
The trade gives the 49ers the edge rusher they desperately needed:
The trade helps the Chiefs save cap money and accumulate draft picks to use during the cheaper Patrick Mahomes years.
Dee Ford had to agree to a contract extension with the 49ers for the trade to be completed and that has reportedly happened:
On March 9 the Chiefs addressed the offensive side of the ball and signed running back Carlos Hyde to provide depth for that position. The surprising release of Kareem Hunt during the 2018 season left the team with a lot of question marks. Damien Williams took over as the primary back at the end of the season and averaged 5.1 yards per attempt. Carlos Hyde averaged 3.3 yards per rush between Jacksonville and Cleveland in 2018. Hyde should provide depth and competition at the running back position. It wouldn’t be surprising though to see the Chiefs draft a running back in the third or fourth round in this April’s draft.
March 10 saw the Chiefs release linebacker Justin Houston to the surprise of nobody but still disappointing to Chiefs’ fans. Houston had several quality seasons with the Chiefs but injuries and ultimately his salary cap cost was too much for a team needing to rebuild their defense.
On Monday the Chiefs made a huge splash when it was learned that the team will sign former Texans’ safety Tyrann Mathieu to a 3-year, $42 million contract:
We will know soon if Mathieu will play alongside Eric Berry. I wrote at the end of February about the Chiefs needing to move on from Eric Berry.
On Tuesday we learned that the Chiefs reached an agreement with former Dallas linebacker Damien Wilson on a two-year contract. Wilson is expected to play alongside Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland with Dorian O’Daniel to get regular time on the field with an opportunity to earn a starting spot.
The Chiefs have made several changes already on the defensive side and they aren’t done. The hope is that they will still go after the best available player in the draft regardless of which side of the ball he plays on, but the concern is that they might reach for defensive players when they shouldn’t.
There is a lot more offseason to go. Chiefs fans should be excited with the moves the team has made so far.