The Kansas City Chiefs inability to protect Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LV last month was unfortunately the culmination of losses throughout the entire 2020 campaign. Shortly after Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and rookie Lucas Niang exercised their right to opt-out of the season due to COVID-19, the Chiefs suffered another critical loss in Week 5 when left guard Kelechi Osemele went down with torn tendons in both knees, a potential death blow to the career of the nine-year veteran.
After signing on with Kansas City on a one-year, $1.2 million deal ahead of training camp last July, Osemele is now one of the team’s most intriguing unrestricted free agents. At 31 years old, Osemele may still have some impactful football left in the tank, especially for a team as deprived of established starting-caliber linemen as the Chiefs. However, his future in the NFL will depend almost solely on his health.
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On Saturday, the slimmed-down All-Pro guard showed off some serious progress in his recovery from knee surgery in a string of Instagram stories captured by Nick Jacobs of 41 Action News in Kansas City.
Osemele also posted a photo of him on the bench press prior to the AFC Championship game in late January.
Osemele Showcased His Infamous Power Early in 2020
For the four-plus weeks Osemele was on the field last season, the 6-foot-5, 330-pounder showed off the raw power and strength that made him a household name among offensive linemen over the past decade.
Unlike many players on one-year rental deals, Osemele was also very supportive of his new squad and teammates on Twitter throughout the remainder of the season. The former Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders stalwart quickly left an impression in the Chiefs locker room, even earning praise from offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for being a “competitive prick” — a title he also lovingly gave to Mahomes.
“He’s the guy who wants to brawl each and every play,” Bieniemy told reporters last September. “On top of that, he’s just a tough guy. He understands the dynamics of our O-Line room and he just brings that chemistry together, brings that group force with him when he’s out there and playing. He wants the ball to be ran behind him.
“Also, he understands exactly how we’re going to go about doing this. We want to make sure that we’re playing smart, playing hard, playing fast, but more importantly that we’re being accountable and we’re not doing anything that’s going to keep us from accomplishing our goals. What a great kid. I love everything that he brings to the table and I think he’s just been a great addition.”
Chiefs’ Intentions With Osemele Remain Unclear
Aside from in-season comments from the coaching staff, the Chiefs have not taken a firm public position on a potential reunion with Osemele, as they did with starting center and Austin Reiter and Mike Remmers last week.
If recent history is any indication, such as how Brett Veach glowingly spoke about Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz returning by training camp less than two weeks before cutting both tackles, a public stance isn’t always an accurate indication of a club’s plans anyhow.
With three-fifths of last season’s frontline now gone and free agency set to officially open on Wednesday, the Chiefs also need to decide on the future of the aforementioned Remmers, Daniel Kilgore and Andrew Wylie (restricted free agent).
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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!