One of the most disappointing units that have played a large part in the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive struggles this season is the defensive line.
Through seven games, they have accounted for only six sacks, which have come from Mike Danna (3), Chris Jones (2), and Derrick Nnadi (1). Kansas City’s best defensive lineman when it comes to pass-rush grade by PFF is Jones who is graded out at 74.6, and after him, there is a significant drop-off, with defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton being the next highest defensive lineman in pass-rush grade on the team at 59.7.
Defensive end Frank Clark — who is the highest-paid player on the Chiefs this season with an $18.5 million base salary, per Spotrac — has earned an average pass-rush grade of 58.9 in the four games he’s played in this season, recording zero sacks, three quarterback hits, and one hurry in those games.
The dismal play of Kansas City’s defensive line has the NFL landscape scouring for potential options for them to trade for or sign in free agency. On Monday, October 25 — eight days away from the NFL’s November 2 trade deadline — one NFL analyst is calling for the defending AFC champions to sign a 2018 Pro Bowl pass rusher that is currently a free agent.
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Analyst: Vernon Good Fit for Chiefs
Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay wrote NFL free agents who can help fuel playoff runs in 2021. No. 4 on his list was edge rusher Olivier Vernon, who he pegs as a fit for the pass rush-needy Chiefs.
If Vernon returns to full strength, he can bolster the edge in a big way. The 31-year-old had a quality 2020 season, notching 28 pressures, 16 quarterback hits, 12 hurries, nine sacks and seven knockdowns over 805 snaps.
The Chiefs desperately need a pass-rusher like Vernon to unleash on obvious passing downs. If they fail to add a player of his caliber, the team’s playoff run may be short-lived or even nonexistent.
Kay also noted that Vernon is still recovering from a torn Achilles he suffered in Week 17 of the 2020 season as a member of the Cleveland Browns. So Vernon wouldn’t be an immediate fix for the Chiefs, by the end of the regular season and postseason he could be 100% healthy and ready to make an impact on the field.
Is Vernon a Good Match for Chiefs?
Given the Chiefs’ financial situation and their desperate need for another pass rusher, Vernon makes a lot of sense for Kansas City. Because Vernon is coming off an injury and is still a free agent, the Chiefs could sign him to a cheap contract due to his services only being needed for the better part of a couple of months, letting him walk next offseason in free agency.
Vernon would likely be nothing more than a situational edge presence for them, which is completely fine. However, a scenario does exist in which he could take on a larger role than that based on his performance.
Last season, Vernon played in 16 games for the Browns and registered a 74.8 overall PFF grade. If the Chiefs could get that type of productivity from Vernon when fully healthy, then he would be welcomed by Chiefs Kingdom with open arms.
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