Chiefs Urged to Avoid Recently Cut No. 3 Overall Pick in Free Agency

Dante Fowler Jr., Justin Herbert

Getty Former Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. attempts to bring down Justin Herbert on December 13, 2020.

Most would agree that the Kansas City Chiefs need pass-rushing help in 2022.

While veteran Melvin Ingram III proved to be a nice addition at the trade deadline, he wasn’t enough to get KC over the edge when it mattered most in the playoffs. Neither was the rest of the defensive line, made up of Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Danna, Tershawn Wharton, Khalen Saunders, Alex Okafor and more.

GM Brett Veach will have important decisions to make on the aforementioned Ingram, as well as the expensive Clark and free agents like Reed or Okafor. Fresh faces should be entering the scene as well but sometimes you have to be selective about who you give money to in free agency.

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Chiefs ‘Can’t Take a Risk’ on Dante Fowler Jr.

That’s where Bleacher Report’s Jake Rill comes in. The NFL analyst noted that the Chiefs should steer clear of former top Jacksonville Jaguars prospect Dante Fowler Jr. in a recent article.

“The 27-year-old has already played for three teams during his six-year NFL career,” wrote Rill, “and he’s had inconsistent production. He had 11.5 sacks for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, then recorded only 7.5 sacks in 28 games over the past two seasons for the Atlanta Falcons. If Kansas City signed Fowler, it may not know which version of the edge-rusher it’s going to get.”

It has been a windy road for the former No. 3 overall pick at the NFL level. After two and a half underwhelming seasons with the Jags, he was traded to Los Angeles to play for the Rams. Fowler actually had his best season for LAR in 2019 which led to a three-year deal in Atlanta.

Again, Fowler failed to live up to expectations and was released after two seasons with the Falcons on February 16.

Rill admitted that Kansas City does need more pass rushers, but it has to be the right fit. “During the 2021 season, the Chiefs recorded only 31 sacks, which was the fourth-fewest in the NFL,” he stated. “So they need to do a better job of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2022.”

The analyst continued later: “It’s possible the Chiefs may even be looking to add multiple defensive linemen/edge-rushers this offseason so that one of their weaknesses could become one of their strengths in the near future… [but] considering the Chiefs are trying to win now, they can’t take a risk on a player who may underperform and not make the desired impact.”

Rill concluded: “There should be quite a few strong defensive linemen available in free agency, so Kansas City should look elsewhere to bolster that area of its roster.”

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Other Potential Free Agent Options

Technically, an NFL team could scoop up Fowler at any moment since he was released, but the EDGE may prefer to wait until free agency officially opens in March to see what he can get on the open market.

If the Chiefs avoid Fowler as Rill suggested, there are still plenty of alternatives to pursue. One is bringing back a player like Ingram but let’s dive into some outside options.

Pro Football Focus’ top free-agent edge rushers are three big names who’ve been doing it a long time. One, in particular, has a long history against the Chiefs, ex-Denver Broncos star, Von Miller.

Fresh off another Super Bowl ring, Miller is expected to command something close to $17 million per year. The second player on the list is not much cheaper, and that’s Arizona Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones at around $16.75 million according to PFF.

Then you have more up-and-down defensive ends like Jadeveon Clowney, Randy Gregory, and ex-Chief Emmanuel Ogbah. Two more interesting pieces could be linebacker-convert Haason Reddick (Carolina Panthers) and rising star Harold Landry III (Tennessee Titans).

None of these players would come cheap, however, and to acquire any of them, contracts like Clark and Anthony Hitchens may have to go.

The Chiefs could also look for a bargain via trade or a one-year deal with a familiar player like Justin Houston or a newer one like Jerry Hughes.


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