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The Kansas City Chiefs win and if that is getting kind of frustrating because they have the best quarterback in the NFL and probably the best coach, get used to it because the reasons stretch far beyond those two obvious advantages.
The Chiefs, you see, get it.
They understand how having Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid gives them advantages that affect the rest of the roster. So the Chiefs can, for example, lose one of the best receivers in the NFL in Tyreek Hill during an offseason and answer by signing a couple of guys for a year.
And then they win the Super Bowl.
Chiefs Find A Way To Reload
It’s uncanny. It’s frustrating to any team trying to knock them off their perch.
And they are apparently back at it this offseason.
After winning the Super Bowl with an offensive line they basically brought together in 2021, the Chiefs lost both their starting tackles this offseason.
Starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. left in free agency and signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. He got a four-year deal worth a reported $64 million.
Starting right tackle Andrew Wylie signed with the Washington Commanders four days later. He got a three-year deal worth a reported $24 million.
So the Chiefs had to basically refurbish if not rebuild their offensive line for the second time in three years.
Donovan Smith Emerges From 2022 Struggles
Last week the Chiefs signed veteran left tackle Donovan Smith, who was released earlier this offseason for both salary cap and performance reasons by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The club also earlier signed Jawaan Taylor in free agency away from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Because Taylor signed a notable four-year, $80-million deal it was believed perhaps he was moving to the left tackle spot to fill the void left by Brown.
Coach Andy Reid announced Monday the club plans to use Smith as its starting left tackle to start training camp.
“He’ll be the left side, yes,” Reid said. “Probably with the ones.”
That will leave Taylor playing the same right tackle spot he played well last season with the Jaguars.
So the Smith addition gives the Chiefs a blind side protector for Mahomes that has started 124 games. And it also gives KC the luxury of not moving Taylor away from his familiar right tackle spot where he allowed one fewer sack and had four fewer penalties than Wylie did last season.
Just like that, the Chiefs seemingly have their 2023 offensive line. They have obviously addressed their problem. But more importantly, it’s a good bet they’ve solved their problem.
Some Teams Don’t Fix Chronic Problems
The beauty of this is it glows in contrast to the seemingly chronic problems some teams have with their offensive lines.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been trying to address their line for three years now. The Jets went into the draft needing tackle help but were outsmarted and left out of the run on talented tackles in the first round. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have had trouble finding the right mix on their offensive line for about six seasons and even now the group is seemingly held together by thin stitches on often-injured players.
The Chiefs seem different.
They see a problem. Then address the problem, especially if it pertains to supporting Mahomes and the offense. And the answer makes sense.
Maybe that’s one reason they’ll likely be playing late into the 2023 postseason as a result.
How is this?
Clearly general manager Brett Veach and his personnel department deserve praise. But it really is the entire organization that looks for opportunities and lunges at them when they present.
Donovan Smith Gets Andy Reid OK
Smith is clearly one of those.
He was a great disappointment for the Buccaneers last season.
Smith ranked 66th out of 81 tackles graded by Pro Football Focus. He allowed six sacks. And he collected an NFL leading 12 accepted penalties, including three that nullified Tom Brady touchdown passes.
Smith also dealt with elbow and foot injuries, causing him to miss four regular-season games.
Although multiple teams showed some interest, no one stepped out to sign Smith through the early and even middle parts of free agency. No one signed him before the draft, either.
Reid saw that fact, studied the tape and resume, and saw an opportunity.
The Chiefs signed Smith to a one-year on a contract worth between $4-$4.5 million, with incentives that can double the amount if everything goes exceedingly well.
“Yeah so he’s been a left tackle at a high level,” Reid told reporters. “If you look at – last year, he was hurt and then the year before that he was one of the top-rated left tackles in the league. And we’ve had a chance to play against him a couple times, so you know I know seeing him firsthand there (that) he’s a good football player.”
Chiefs Have Plan To Protect Mahomes
Suddenly the reports of the Chiefs signing Smith for depth updated to analysis of Smith possibly being an upgrade at left tackle over Brown, who was merely solid for the Chiefs in 2022 despite his big contract with the Bengals.
The amazing thing is the Chiefs have others in the pipeline if Smith falters. They selected a tackle, Oklahoma’s Wanya Morris, in the third round of this year’s draft.
They have two other tackles who played as backups last season in Lucas Niang and Prince Tega Wahogho. And Darian Kinnard is a developmental player who was a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft.
Does this mean the Chiefs won’t have any offensive line issues in 2023? Of course not.
But if you think losing Brown and Wylie will devastate the defending Super Bowl champions all you need to do is remember how they responded to losing Tyreek Hill.