There is no denying that the Kansas City Chiefs defense was a major concern last season. Whether it was the players or the coaching, they were not performing well. The blame goes to both, including the front office due to the lack of productive depth for the entire defense. This defense is expensive and father time is taking its toll on the Chiefs aging linebackers. The Chief’s front office has some major decisions to make this offseason, so let’s get started.

Defensive Line

The defensive lineman heading into free agency are Bennie Logan and Jarvis Jenkins then next year is Allen Bailey. There is a lot of money linked to Logan and Bailey, which needs to be taken into mind when making moves. Especially since the Chiefs are struggling with cap space. Their contracts combined are right around 14 million dollars, the Chiefs could do a lot with that for this offseason. With Logan costing 8 million dollars with little to show for it, it would be smart for the Chiefs to move on from the defensive tackle. A high price for low production is never ideal, then allow Jenkins to develop for another year and give Bailey another full year of health. Grab one or two more key productive player’s in free agency for depth and the defensive line is set.

Linebackers

The only linebacker heading into free agency is Kevin Pierre-Louis, who worked his way from special teams star to playing key snaps at the linebacker position. He is not a hard-hitting linebacker by any means, but he is quick and reads plays well. Pierre-Louis and Ragland could be a great duo in the linebacker spots.

Linebackers with one year left on their contract include Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford and Frank Zombo. That list of players is basically the entire core of the Chiefs linebackers. Tough decisions must be made to help this team improve and compete each season. With that being said the Chiefs need to move on from Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson.

That is not easy to say or discuss, but it is the reality of the situation. Kansas City has a young talented offense, with an old run down defense that is unable to perform due to age. Johnson made several good reads on defense but appeared to be a step behind in making the play. It happened several times during the season and will continue to happen next year as well, since he turns another year older. Johnson is the Chiefs leading tackler and was the centerpiece to their defense for a long time. Hopefully, he makes this decision easier and will retire a Chief.

There is a similar situation with Tamba Hali, who has been a Chief his entire career and has had a great one. Hali is a special edge rusher with great hands; a rare talent. He went public with his frustration of limited playing time last offseason, but faced injuries this season, then missed a majority of it. His paycheck is similar to Logan’s and so is his performance. Hali’s career as a Chief will always be remembered, which is why he should ride off into the sunset with Johnson.

Secondary

Phillip Gaines, Steven Terrell and Kenneth Acker are free agents this offseason for the secondary. This group should be an easy decision. Gaines, he is gone, why he isn’t already is a complete shock. (Hopefully this does not need to be explained any further) Acker showed some promise this season playing the number two corner, but still was exposed in the Chiefs already weak secondary. Keeping Acker as a limited role player for depth would be wise for the Chiefs.

Darrelle Revis, Keith Reaser and Steven Nelson are the players that round of the possible free agents for the Chiefs defense in 2019, but still have the potential of being released. The Chiefs signed Revis in the latter half of the season and gained some productivity from him. The Chiefs are set to owe Revis 8 million dollars this next season if he remains with the team. Revis is another player competing against time. Notice a trend is starting to appear within the Chiefs defense? The Chiefs could clear up even more cap room if they are release Revis, which would the smart thing to do. Nelson is still a developing piece and has the potential to be a good slot corner. Nelson also spent a majority of the season recovering from an injury but played valuable reps once he returned.

 

Overall

Kansas City has the potential to create a huge amount of cap space with the release or retirement of key players. The Chiefs are only three or four more solid pieces of being a serious contender this next season. They will be a prime position to grab those pieces this offseason if they continue to move on from underperforming players. This offseason is going to be full of tough decisions, but those decisions will shape this team for success or failure in the upcoming years.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

PLAYERS: Tamba Hali
TEAMS: Kansas City Chiefs
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