NFL free agency took a pause for the Kansas City Chiefs and most franchises in late April, being that the draft took center stage.
Now that it has come and gone, teams can reevaluate which veterans can best fill any holes the roster may still have. For the Chiefs, the defense probably still has more question marks on paper.
The cornerback position is very young and the defensive line could always use more depth. That goes double for the edge rusher position, which has become a premium role in the modern age. Has general manager Brett Veach done enough to bolster his pass-rushing unit in 2022?
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Time for a Familiar Face?
During a CBS Sports article on May 9, NFL analyst Cody Benjamin suggested five free-agent reunions that make sense for both parties. The Chiefs were on the list, as the writer reconnected KC with a former 11-year NFL pro.
We’re talking about four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro pass rusher Justin Houston, who currently has 102 career sacks and 123 tackles for a loss. Benjamin wrote:
At 33, Houston is no longer a top-tier starter off the edge — a far cry from the 22-sack machine that once dominated from K.C.’s front. But he’s still a savvy plug-and-play rotational rusher, which is precisely what the Chiefs could use at defensive end. First-round pick George Karlaftis should start from Day One opposite Frank Clark, but this is a title contender we’re talking about; the deeper the pass-rushing stable, the better. Houston has shown recently, with the Colts and Ravens, he can offer something.
Benjamin is right, the Chiefs still need a veteran that can rotate in and provide experience on the edge. Melvin Ingram held that role in 2021 after the franchise traded for him and his addition had major ripple effects on the defensive side.
You might ask, why doesn’t Veach just re-sign Ingram then? He certainly could after the franchise decided to place a free-agent tender on the veteran, but there has to be an option ‘B’ in case Ingram receives a better offer.
That could still be Houston, who had 4.5 sacks and six tackles for a loss last season.
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What’s the Deal With Ingram?
Houston and Ingram are actually in a very similar boat. The Baltimore Ravens placed the same UFA tender on Houston, meaning both have until July 22 or the first day of training camp (whichever is later) to make a decision.
If they cannot find another suitor before then, they will be forced to sign their tenders. In the Chiefs’ case, that would award Ingram with a one-year contract for $4.4 million.
Houston was the more productive player a season ago, but most fans would probably be satisfied with a return of either of the 33-year-old pass rushers. Karlaftis just turned 21 after all.
The first-round selection has all the talent in the world but he could still use someone to show him the ropes. Although Chris Jones and Frank Clark could fit the billing of a mentor, few defensive ends have the respect and pedigree of Ingram and Houston.
Their leadership would be welcomed once again, as the franchise pursues another Super Bowl under Veach and head coach Andy Reid.