The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled defensively this season — leaving them ranked as the second-worst defense in the NFL through six weeks of the regular season, according to PFF — which has brought into question what needs to change in order for the unit to turn things around.
The defending AFC champions opted to start safety Juan Thornhill over Daniel Sorensen in Week 6 against the Washington Football Team, which in part led to the best outing for the defense through six weeks of play. Kansas City gave up just 13 points and 276 total yards to Washington, forcing two turnovers in that game via a fumble and interception, respectively, per ESPN.
However, there’s one position, in particular, that still isn’t getting the job done on defense, which has the Chiefs in a potential “arms race” with one divisional opponent ahead of the November 2 trade deadline.
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Chiefs, Chargers Looking to Bolster D-Line
Kansas City is looking to add to their defensive line prior to the trade deadline, according to PFF’s Brad Spielberger, who noted on Twitter ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler’s report on October 12 about the Chargers also looking to add to their defensive line.
“[Jeremy Fowler] mentioned recently the Chargers were as well, perhaps an arms race for two AFC West teams,” Spielberger wrote on October 18.
Why Chiefs Would Lose Arms Race
If the Chiefs were to actually be in an arms race with Los Angeles to bolster their defensive lines before the trade deadline, Kansas City would lose that race. Why? It’s simple: the Chargers could outspend the Chiefs.
As of Monday, October 18, the Chiefs have $1.82 million in estimated cap space, according to Spotrac. The Chargers on the other hand have $10.99 million in estimated cap space. So if both teams were to try and trade for the same player, Los Angeles would have an advantage thanks to the financial wiggle room they have. Granted, if the Chiefs traded away a player they could free up some cap room. But acquiring a player in exchange for a future draft pick would be very difficult to maneuver given their current cap restraints. Los Angeles, however, could maneuver a trade with either a player, draft pick(s), or both involved, thanks to ample cap space.
When looking at Kansas City’s financial situation, you can’t help but notice that two of their top five cap casualties for 2020 live along the defensive line. Defensive end Frank Clark is the team’s biggest cap hit this season at $25.8 million, per Spotrac, and defensive tackle Chris Jones has the fifth biggest cap hit this season at $8.5 million.
Clark and Jones have registered PFF grades of 38.9 and 69.6, respectively, this season. Clark has missed three games this season due to a hamstring ailment and Jones has missed the team’s last two outings due to a wrist injury. Nevertheless, you can see the discrepancy in their production compared to what the team has invested in them financially.
Bolstering the defensive line could help the Chiefs moving forward. But wanting to add to that unit speaks to how poorly their big investments along the defensive line have panned out this season thus far.