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AFC West Free Agency Recap: Kansas City Chiefs

The kings of the AFC West did just enough to stay atop the division.

NFL: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs finished 13-3 in 2020 and came oh-so close to winning another Super Bowl if it wasn’t for the ageless Tom Brady and a Bucs team that truly found it’s stride through the second half of the season.

The Bucs defense all but shutdown the always-explosive Chiefs, limiting them to just three field goals and zero touchdowns. Looking back now, that feat seems even more unbelievable.

The offense brings back all the usual, dangerous faces in 2021. The offense will want for nothing except on the offensive line if the front office can’t find a way to keep the unit healthy and available. The same goes for the defense in terms of retaining all impact players for a unit that seems to consistently play above its’ perceived limitations.

It wasn’t the flashiest free agency period for the Chiefs, but the best teams don’t often make a flurry of moves when they’ve already got everything they need on the team, already.

Notable Additions: OG Joe Thuney (Patriots), DT Jarran Reed (Seahawks), C Austin Blythe (Rams), FB Michael Burton, OG Kyle Long

After struggling with numerous injuries along the offensive line, the Chiefs threw most of their available cap space at the best available guard in free agency in former Patriot Joe Thuney. The team also parted ways with starting center Austin Reiter and replaced him with another starting caliber player in former Rams pivot, Austin Blythe. They made one last move to reinforce the interior by signing Kyle Long who came out of retirement and is reportedly in the best shape of his life.

One addition that may fly under the radar is the acquisition of Jarran Reed, a former second-round pick of the Seahawks back in 2016. He’s averaged over two sacks per season, totaling 22 in his first five years. He’s make a nice pairing with Chris Jones in the middle of that defensive line.

Lastly, the team signed former Saints fullback Michael Burton to replace the recently-retired Anthony Sherman.

Notable Losses: LT Eric Fisher, RT Mitchell Schwartz, C Austin Reiter, RB Damien Williams

In one of the more surprising moves of free agency, the Chiefs cut ties with both of their starting offensive tackles in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Fisher is a former first-overall pick that’s been playing like an upper-tier tackle for the past few seasons and Schwartz has been one of the best players at his position since signing with the Chiefs as a 26-year old from Cleveland. Both struggled with injuries en route to the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Bucs and it looks as if the Chiefs are okay with solidifying the interior and while turning towards the draft and in-house options to protect the edges for Mahomes in 2021.

The Chiefs didn’t have Williams in 2020 after he opted-out of the season due to the pandemic but he’s now officially with the Bears for the 2021 season after signing with Chicago last month. The Chiefs made sure to get their RB1 of the future when they selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of last year’s draft.

2020 Record: 13-3

Chiefs fans, including two of my higher-ups here at SB Nation, would have been insufferable if the Chiefs managed to win back-to-back Super Bowls, so there’s your silver lining from 2020, Chargers fans.

2021 Record Prediction: 12-5

I think the loss of both offensive tackles will hurt the Chiefs more than they’d like to admit, but I’m hard-pressed to believe Andy Reid won’t find a way to make those two usually-pivotal positions less so in 2021. I still believe the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL, despite not winning it all in back-to-back seasons. As long as they have Mahomes under center, they’ll never be an underdog as far as I’m concerned. The road to the AFC West crown will stay going through Kansas City.