The Kansas City Chiefs front office and coaching staff were thrilled to see former LSU star Clyde Edwards-Helaire make it to the team’s No. 32 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. By many accounts, including GM Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid, the offense could be even more dynamic in 2020 with the addition of the dynamic playmaker in the mold of former All-Pro RB Brian Westbrook.
However, despite the Chiefs’ exuberance over their new rookie runner, he may not have been the team’s preferred choice in Round 1.
According to Saints beat writer Nick Underhill, New Orleans Assistant GM / College Scouting Director Jeff Ireland noted on a recent donor call with the Louisiana-Lafayette Athletic Foundation that the team had “pretty strong intel” on the Chiefs’ intentions to draft Michigan OL Cesar Ruiz — not Edwards-Helaire — in Round 1.
The Saints ultimately stayed put at No. 24 to draft the consensus top interior offensive lineman, eliminating the opportunity for both Kansas City and Miami, who held the No. 30 pick two spots ahead of the defending Super Bowl champions. In a 2020 draft class that featured a handful of top-tier offensive tackles, the talent pool at the guard and center positions lacked many prospects considered draftable on Day 1 or early Day 2.
Earlier this month, New Orleans surprisingly cut three-time Pro Bowl OL Larry Warford, clearing approximately $7 million in salary cap space and clearing a path for Ruiz to potentially earn a starting job by Week 1.
Chiefs Showed Interest in Saints OL in March
Interestingly enough, the Chiefs reported interest in Cesar Ruiz isn’t the first connection between the franchises and an offensive lineman this offseason. Back on March 20, just three days into the official NFL free agency period, New Orleans signed their 2015 first-round G/T Andrus Peat to a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension with $33 million guaranteed.
Shortly thereafter, Chiefs beat reporter Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star tweeted that Kansas City was among the teams interested in the services of the two-time Pro Bowler.
With the team having already moved on from Cameron Erving and losing Stefen Wisniewski to the Pittsburgh Steelers one day earlier on March 19, the Chiefs’ interest in beefing up the protection for QB Patrick Mahomes was warranted.
However, given the cap troubles the front office has worked around all offseason in preparation for potential long-term extensions for DT Chris Jones and their prized signal-caller, it remains unknown just how close Kansas City came to signing the Saints offensive lineman.
For more NFL updates, follow Chris Licata on Twitter: @Chris__Licata