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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Chiefs suddenly among the NFL’s busiest teams this offseason

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to be quiet in free agency, as the perennial AFC West champions had most of their big names tied to long-term deals. and they were already crashing against the salary. Cap.

Brett Veach had other ideas.

Instead, the super-aggressive Chiefs GM made a splash by signing former Texans safety Justin Reid and former Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, then turned the NFL on its head by making a blockbuster trade that sent the three-time All-Pro wide receiver. Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins for a package of draft picks.

Suddenly, the Chiefs have become one of the busiest teams in the league in the run-up to April’s draft.

With cap space suddenly at his disposal, Veach added more help to replace Hill in the form of former Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He got running back Ronald Jones, who helped Tampa Bay beat Kansas City in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. And he added depth at several positions, landing former Texans left tackle Geron Christian, Bears safety Deon Bush and Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter.

It all makes the Chiefs something of an anomaly in the NFL — a team that contended for a championship last season but was willing to remake a significant chunk of its roster for a chance to win another this season.

“For me, it all came down to (multiple) teams,” Jones said Sunday, “and in the end, I just wanted to be in a situation where I had the best chance to compete for that second (Super Bowl) ring and win.” . my brand in the game.

That’s what the Chiefs want from him, too.

They’re also nowhere near finished, even though they still have just seven of the 22 starters who won their first Super Bowl in five decades just 26 months ago: quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce, backup center Austin Reiter , wide receiver Mecole Hardman and defensive linemen Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Frank Clark.

For one thing, the Chiefs still have cash on hand, and they’ve been tied to veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore as they try to replace the late Charvarius Ward. On the other hand, they have two picks in each of the first four rounds of the draft and 12 overall, giving them the freedom to do pretty much whatever they want when it kicks off on April 28.

They could still use a game-changing wide receiver to replace Hill, though his departure and subsequent record-breaking contract extension in Miami is one of the main reasons Valdes-Scantling signed in Kansas City.

“It was a great decision,” he said. “I think with (Hill) leaving, he gave me a really good opportunity to be in a position to come in and make an immediate impact. So I think that was a big factor.”

The tight-knit locker room in Kansas City has already welcomed an influx of new players, often with tweets (Mahomes has been particularly active) and other social media posts. But in some cases, ties already exist that should help grease the transition from last year’s team that lost in the AFC title game to this year’s group.

Jones and Smith-Schuster played together in Southern California, for example. Reid and Christian came from Houston. And in almost every other case, the newcomers have played the Chiefs many times over the years.

“We respect each other’s games,” Smith-Schuster said, “so now is the time to put it all together.”

They better make it quick. The AFC West, a division the Chiefs have dominated, has become arguably the toughest in the NFL. Russell Wilson now throws passes in Denver, where he hired Randy Gregory to bring down opposing quarterbacks; the Raiders brought in their own pass-rusher in Chandler Jones and added Valdes-Scantling’s former teammate Davante Adams; and the Chargers landed one of the best cornerbacks in the league, JC Jackson.

However, the Chiefs still have Mahomes. They still have Kelce in the passing game, Clark and Jones chasing the other quarterback, and they still have the offensive genius of Andy Reid on the sidelines.

In fact, Reid has played a big role in getting some of the big free agents to suddenly call Kansas City home.

“It’s one thing for a head coach who just won the Lombardi Trophy: To be texted personally, it means a lot,” Smith-Schuster said. “And going into the process this year, KC has been with me for the last two years. Obviously, I feel welcome here and appreciated. So coming here and having the opportunity to play here for him is a great experience.”

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