Chiefs’ 2024 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After Super Bowl Win

Chiefs’ 2024 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After Super Bowl Win

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    Chiefs head coach Andy Reid

    Chiefs head coach Andy ReidRic Tapia/Getty Images

    Compared to what Kansas City Chiefs fans have come to expect during the Patrick Mahomes era, the 2023 regular season was a disappointing one.

    This season, the Chiefs’ defense led the way during the regular season, while the offense was the unit that lagged behind. Kansas City won just 11 games, its lowest win total since the 2017 season—a year before Mahomes became the full-time starter.

    Yet, the Chiefs still won the AFC West, continued the streak of not missing the AFC Championship Game with Mahomes under center and worked their way into the fourth Super Bowl of his career.

    Kansas City defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday to become the first team to repeat as champion since the New England Patriots in 2003-04.

    There are reasons to believe they’ll be among the conference favorites again in 2024. Mahomes is still under center, and head coach Andy Reid is still roaming the sideline.

    Now that Kansas City’s postseason run has ended, though, Reid and general manager Brett Veach have work to do. Here, we’ll dive into what lies ahead for the Chiefs in the looming offseason.

Free Agents

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    Chiefs DT Chris Jones

    Chiefs DT Chris JonesMichael Owens/Getty Images

    Unrestricted Free Agents

    G Nick Allegretti

    TE Blake Bell

    S Deon Bush

    DL Michael Danna

    S Mike Edwards

    RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

    QB Blaine Gabbert

    LB Willie Gay Jr.

    WR Mecole Hardman

    WR Richie James

    DT Chris Jones

    RB Jerick McKinnon

    DT Derrick Nnadi

    OT Donovan Smith

    CB L’Jarus Sneed

    P Tommy Townsend

    LB Drue Tranquill

    OT Prince Tega Wanogho

    LS James Winchester

    Restricted/Exclusive-Rights Free Agents

    G Mike Caliendo

    LB Jack Cochrane

    TE Jody Fortson

    DE Malik Herring

    CB Nazeeh Johnson

    The Chiefs have a large number of players scheduled to reach free agency, including defensive standout Chris Jones.

    The five-time Pro Bowler is likely to be one of the most coveted players on the market at any position. A contract restructuring got Jones onto the field this past season, but the Chiefs could have a difficult time keeping the 29-year-old in the offseason.

    Jones is the headliner of Kansas City’s second-ranked defense, but he’s not the only notable contributor who could depart. Michael Dannas, Willie Gay Jr., Derrick Nnadi, Mike Edwards and Drue Tranquill all played roles. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed will also be one of the top defenders in free agency this year.

    Sneed allowed an opposing passer rating of only 56.2 in coverage this season, according to Pro Football Reference.

    Offensively, the Chiefs are most in danger of losing role players like Richie James and Jerick McKinnon. Kansas City brought in Donovan Smith to play left tackle in 2023, but he might prove to only be a stopgap.

    If Blaine Gabbert departs, Kansas City will likely be in the market for another veteran backup quarterback.

    The Chiefs are projected to have $30.4 million in cap space available, which is just below the league average. While that’s a reasonable amount of space, Veach will likely have to get creative with his contracts if he hopes to retain players like Jones and Sneed while also addressing Kansas City’s roster deficiencies.

Potential Free-Agent/Trade Targets

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    Cardinals WR Marquise Brown

    Cardinals WR Marquise BrownRic Tapia/Getty Images

    Kansas City’s biggest need right now is at wide receiver. The team adapted to the departure of Tyreek Hill in 2022 but had numerous issues with the receiving corps this past season.

    According to Pro Football Reference, Chiefs receivers dropped a whopping 44 passes during the regular season.

    Depending on how Kansas City’s cap situation shakes out, impending free agents like Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr., Marquise Brown, Calvin Ridley and Gabe Davis should all be near the top of the Chiefs’ wish list.

    It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see Veach try trading for a receiver on an expiring contract, like Jerry Jeudy or Brandon Aiyuk.

    Beyond the receiver position, the Chiefs are likely to use the market to plug holes left by their own free agents.

    Isiah Pacheco is a fine starting running back, but with McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire potentially departing, running backs like Gus Edwards and D’Onta Foreman could interest Kansas City.

    Expect Veach to largely target players in the second and third waves of free agency, with players like cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, linebacker Bobby Wagner and safety Geno Stone serving as logical targets.

    The Chiefs prefer to have an experienced quarterback behind Mahomes, so if Gabbert isn’t back, signal-callers like Tyler Huntley and Joshua Dobbs could be of interest.

    If Smith doesn’t return, the team will need to address the left tackle position. Unfortunately, the market isn’t expected to be heavy on top-tier talent. Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith is the best of the bunch, and he has a fairly concerning injury history.

    Most likely, Kansas City will continue its trend of re-signing its own players, filling out depth with bargain free agents and targeting major needs in the draft. The big exception this year might be at wide receiver.

Draft Targets

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    Houston OT Patrick Paul

    Houston OT Patrick PaulMichael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Two positions serve as logical priorities for Kansas City on Day 1—wide receiver and offensive tackle.

    Given the makeup of this draft class, Veach may be inclined to go with the latter. The draft is expected to be deep at the receiver position, and the Bleacher Report Scouting Department recently ranked 15 wideouts in its top 100 players.

    If Veach gets aggressive, trading up for a tackle like Notre Dame’s Joe Alt could make plenty of sense. Trading out of the first round and snagging a prospect like Houston’s Patrick Paul would also be logical.

    “Paul still needs significant technique work to play with better leverage, control and sustain skills,” Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department wrote. “But he has ideal length with starter-level athletic ability, play strength and a nasty demeanor that can be harnessed into a starting role within his first few seasons.”

    If the Chiefs focus on a lineman first, they should still be able to come back for a quality receiver prospect on Day 2. Pass-catchers like Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk, Texas’ Xavier Worthy, Texas’ Adonai Mitchell and Florida State’s Johnny Wilson would all boost the receiving corps sooner than later.

    If the Chiefs are less enamored with the tackle class, wideouts like LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. and Florida State’s Keon Coleman will likely be considered in Round 1.

    With Jones potentially departing, Kansas City will probably look to reload its defensive front too. Prospects like Texas’ Byron Murphy II, Oregon’s Brandon Dorlus and Ohio State’s Michael Hall Jr. should get heavy Day 2 consideration. Cornerbacks like Clemson’s Nate Wiggins and Penn State’s Kalen King should also be valued in the same range.

    Expect the Chiefs to use the latter portions of the draft to add depth, which could warrant a best-player-available approach. Kansas City is set to have picks in each of the first five rounds.

    *Cap, contract and free-agent status information via Spotrac. Draft order information via Tankathon.

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