Chiefs Expected to Lose Starting Center to Free Agency: Report

Austin Reiter Chiefs

Getty Chiefs center Austin Reiter has started 32-of-42 games in his three seasons in Kansas City.

Just hours after parting ways with veteran offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, the Kansas City Chiefs are now expected to lose another key starting lineman.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Thursday afternoon, Chiefs free agent center Austin Reiter will be allowed to test the open market is “expected to land elsewhere,” according to a source.

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Reiter Did Not Allow a Sack in 2020

If ever there were a time for Reiter to maximize his value on the free agent market, this would the year. The 29-year-old started 12-of-15 regular season games all three playoff games for the AFC champion Chiefs in 2020. During that span, Reiter allowed only 11 total pressures and did not surrender a single sack of Patrick Mahomes, even as the last remaining Week 1 starter standing during a dismal Super Bowl LV loss last month.

Formerly a seventh-round draft pick of the Washington Football Team in 2015, the South Florida product has impressively carved out a niche for himself during his first six years in the NFL. For his career, Reiter has played in 59 games with 32 of his 33 career starts coming over the last three seasons with the Chiefs, who claimed him off waivers from the Cleveland Browns in 2018 before agreeing to a two-year, $4.5 million extension.

According to Spotrac’s market value calculator, Reiter could be in for a payday that Kansas City — still $4 million over their $188.4 million salary cap — might be unwilling to match compared to its alternative options. At present, the going rate for the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder is estimated at a bloated $11.4 million annually, potentially catapulting Reiter into the top five in average annual salary at the position.

With a larger than average influx of veteran players also expected to be cut due to cap constraints in the coming days, market values will likely end up diluted as teams and agents sift through their options at a more conservative pace this offseason. Either way, Reiter will need to wait until the new league year begins on March 17 to make his final decision.

Reiter aside, the Chiefs still have decisions to make on impending free agent linemen, including RT Mike Remmers, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Daniel Kilgore and OT Andrew Wylie (restricted). In terms of in-house replacements at center, the list is limited to 2019 seventh-rounder Nick Allegretti and practice squader Darryl Williams.


New Mock Draft Lands 3 Replacements in First 3 Rounds

Given Thursday’s flurry of news, Mahomes’ 2021 frontline will undoubtedly look far different than that of years past. With eight selections in April’s NFL Draft, the Chiefs have a prime opportunity to get younger, cheaper and deeper along the offensive line.

The latest mock draft from The Draft Scout’s Matt Miller takes an aggressive approach to that, pinpointing three potential replacements in the first three rounds. Headlining the group of prospects at No. 31 overall was Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, who has already met formally with Chiefs brass.

Here is what Miller had to say:

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Jenkins has experience mostly at right tackle but did play two games on the left side for Oklahoma State in 2020. He’s a big man (6’5 1/4”, 320 lbs) who in the Kansas City scheme I believe could make a long-term home at right tackle. When I spoke to him recently, Jenkins said he was comfortable playing anywhere (“right tackle, right guard, left tackle, I don’t care”) and has the length and quickness to protect a scrambling Mahomes while also creating that pocket to step up into. In the run game, Jenkins is a monster on the right side and plays with a meanness offensive line coach Andy Heck would love.

Miller pegged Alabama’s blindside protector Alex Leatherwood as a realistic fit in Round 2, with the versatility to play both tackle and guard positions at the next level. In Round 3, the Chiefs landed their center of the future in Ohio State’s Josh Myers, whom Miller describes as “a physical, smart, nasty center prospect” with experience “protecting a moving quarterback and keeping his head on a swivel to know where the passer is as a scrambler or thrower.”

This would certainly be an intriguing haul for Andy Reid’s club, however, it’s worth noting that the last time Kansas City selected multiple linemen with two of its first three picks was in 2012 with tackles Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson. But as Allen pointed out on Twitter on Thursday, general manager Brett Veach and company have a plan.

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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!

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