The further that the Kansas City Chiefs get away from their 2019 Super Bowl roster, the fewer players there are remaining. That’s just the natural progression of the NFL journey, as the franchise attempts to recapture the winning combination.
One unsung piece from that KC defense was linebacker Ben Niemann, who began his pro career as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa. In the end, he contributed in all four seasons he was with the Chiefs — at least 14 appearances in each — and combined for 167 total tackles with two sacks and one fumble forced.
A solid cog from 2018 through 2021, and a Super Bowl champion in Kansas City. Having said that, Niemann didn’t do enough to earn a new contract this spring and he was allowed to walk as an unrestricted free agent. Last night on June 16, the linebacker found his next home.
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2 Former Chiefs Head to Arizona
After trying out with the Arizona Cardinals during their minicamp this week, both Niemann and cornerback Josh Jackson decided to sign with the NFC franchise. ESPN staff writer Josh Weinfuss dropped the news, noting the corresponding release of safety Javon Hagan.
Jackson was a former second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers that has bounced around the NFL since being traded to the New York Giants in 2021. After a brief stop in Kansas City as a shot in the dark for general manager Brett Veach at cornerback, he’ll get another opportunity with the Cardinals.
Ironically, Niemann and Jackson were college teammates with the Hawkeyes and after reuniting in KC, the pair will continue together once more.
Their respective paths were also unexpected. Despite a unanimous All-American honor for Jackson at Iowa and a superior draft status, Niemann turned out to be the more successful NFL player. It’s safe to say the CB is running out of chances to prove he can perform at the highest level.
As for Niemann, he’ll look to latch on and earn a rotational role within a fairly deep linebacker core and special teams unit.
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Chiefs Have Moved On
It goes without saying that if Veach and the coaching staff were willing to let these two players leave in free agency, they aren’t too upset about the departures.
The Chiefs bulked up at both linebacker and cornerback this offseason. Rookie Leo Chenal should compete with signing Jermaine Carter Jr. for the third linebacker role beside Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr.
Behind them, you have a mix of experience and youth battling it out for the remaining roster spots. That includes UDFAs Jack Cochrane and Mike Rose, as well as veterans Elijah Lee, Shilique Calhoun and Darius Harris.
In the secondary, we saw a major influx of talent through the draft. Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson, Nazeeh Johnson and Brandin Dandridge are all rookie defensive backs that could play corner.
That list doesn’t even include first-year safeties Bryan Cook and Nasir Greer. There was no place for Jackson in this group after he supplied little-to-no impact in 2021.
Despite the official loss of another member of the 2019 Super Bowl roster, the Chiefs appear to be headed in the right direction again as it feels like they’ve rebuilt key areas overnight. That’s the key to being perennially successful in the NFL.