The Kansas City Chiefs missed on some big names in free agency, but their strategy will benefit them in the long run — especially with these three players.
Coming off of four straight AFC championship game appearances, the Kansas City Chiefs had their hands full heading into the 2022 NFL offseason. With the historic and unpredictable nature that surrounded this year’s free agency period, there were often times that Chiefs fans felt as if the world flew right by them. Divisional rivals were beefing up in ways previously unimaginable, while Brett Veach and the Chiefs front office sat idly by. In hindsight, with the motivation behind their actions leading up to this point now being understood, the organization and fanbase alike will look back on this offseason and be happy with how the plan unfolded.
To illustrate their mindset in real time, here are three free agents that the Chiefs and their fans will be happy that they passed up on.
1. Stephon Gilmore (Indianapolis Colts)
Although he landed within the AFC, and the Chiefs will have to face off with him in Week 3 of the regular season, passing on Stephon Gilmore perfectly encapsulates the motivation of the Chiefs front office this offseason.
To put it simply — and compare it relative to their closest competition, the AFC West — the Chiefs zigged while everyone else zagged in 2022. Facing an absolute crisis in the defensive secondary with Charvarius Ward, Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen all walking in free agency, there was a massive gap to fill in regards to snap counts and who would be taking responsibility for them in the upcoming season. Gilmore was tied to the Chiefs as a potential landing spot last year after the Patriots were unable to satisfy his desires for a restructured contract. There was brief pandemonium in Chiefs Kingdom when the details of the trade that sent him to the Carolina Panthers came out: Gilmore for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick.
Kansas City was in need of help, and a former All-Pro corner went for peanuts. Little did the fans know, however, that passing on him then was the beginning of a complete reformation of their team.
While every team in the division was adding Pro Bowl and All-Pro talent at a premium cost, the Chiefs decided to sell off and cut ties with their heftiest dues. They let Charvarius Ward and Tyrann Mathieu leave rather than pay near the premium price to keep them. Tyreek Hill was traded away for nothing but draft capital and cap savings. Frank Clark’s behemoth contract was restructured to create cap space.
Things were starting to come together a bit, in terms of the team’s financial intentions, but even more so, they had a keen interest in lowering the median age of the club. The cornerback room is a perfect example of both. In 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs will pay all 10 of their cornerbacks a combined $11.9 million dollars, and the oldest member of that group, Chris Lammons, is 26 years old. With Stephon Gilmore turning 32 shortly after the regular season begins, and his getting paid roughly $10 million dollars for the year, he simply doesn’t balance well with the Chiefs.