After the Kansas City Chiefs fell in Super Bowl LV one thing became abundantly apparent. The offensive line needs help in the worst way possible. A few days into the Chiefs free agency, general manager Brett Veach has made adding reinforcements to the offensive line a priority. He signed Joe Thuney to a five-year deal worth up to $80 million, Kyle Long to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million, and he also tendered Andrew Wylie.
The team has made it very clear that protecting Patrick Mahomes is their top priority. Veach has aggressively attacked the offensive line free agent market while also trying to retain some of the team’s offensive line from last season. The reinforcements made up to this point should provide dividends in 2021.
Chiefs Free Agency: The New Additions
Offensive guard Joe Thuney was one of the top available free agents this year. His caliber of play as well as his versatility made him a home-run signing for the Chiefs. The versatility of Thuney has led to some intrigue of where he will play. His natural position is left guard but the Chiefs have him listed as “offensive lineman”. In 2020, Thuney started two games at center for the New England Patriots. In 2019, he took snaps at left tackle in a game. Tackle is the weakest spot for the Chiefs but keeping Thuney at left guard, where he has made an All-Pro team, might be in the best interest of this franchise.
Joe Thuney’s durability is another big plus for the team. During the Andy Reid era, the team has never had a left guard start all 16 games in a season. Thuney has never missed a game, including playoffs, in his five-year career. Thuney’s All-Pro caliber, versatility, and durability will make a massive difference on the Chiefs’ offensive line in the upcoming season.
Kyle Long is another offensive guard the Chiefs made a hard push for and were able to sign. Long retired following the 2019 season citing injuries and wanting to spend more time with his family. After a year off, he announced he was coming back to the NFL. Long averaged only seven games per season over his last four years in Chicago. So his injury history is a bit of a concern. However, when healthy, Long is one of the top strong physical linemen as evidenced by his three Pro Bowls. The Chiefs are likely banking on Long’s year off to recover to help with his injuries.
Long, like Thuney, is a versatile player. His natural position is right guard but in 2015 he was selected to the Pro Bowl after playing the season at right tackle. As mentioned above, tackle is the weakest spot for the Chiefs. Having another versatile player who the team can move along the line will allow them to start the five best offensive linemen regardless of position.
The team placed an original round tender on Andrew Wylie. Wylie is expected to sign his tender and return to the team on a one-year deal worth $2.1 million. He can still visit with other teams and negotiate a deal but the Chiefs have the right to match any contract Wylie is given. Wylie was an undrafted player, so if the Chiefs choose not to match a contract, the team that signs him away will not have to give up a draft pick to the Chiefs.
Wylie played 88 percent of snaps in 2020 which was a career-high for him. He brings familiarity and more versatility to the team. He will likely be a backup for the 2021 season but his ability to play guard or tackle will make him the team’s primary offensive line backup player.
The Chiefs will see Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and the team’s 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang return after opting out of the previous season. Duvernay-Tardif gives them another lineman who will compete at guard. Lucas Niang can play guard or tackle and will compete with Kyle Long for one of those starting spots. The offensive line is in a state of flux but the team has received reinforcements across the board and this group will be better than the 2020 group.
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