We’ve heard calls for certain veteran free agents from Chiefs Kingdom throughout the season and one popular target was defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Fans got a good look at the 35-year-old run-stuffer during the 2020 Super Bowl, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stopped Kansas City from winning back-to-back titles. That was Suh’s first and only ring, although he’ll definitely be in the running for a second in 2022.
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter announced the news — Suh to the Philadelphia Eagles — on November 17, one day after the NFC’s top franchise signed more D-tackle help with veteran Linval Joseph. After losing for the first time in Week 10, the Eagles decided to bulk up their interior D-line in a huge way, adding seven combined Pro Bowls and 24 years of NFL experience.
Chiefs Fans Lose Out on DT Ndamukong Suh to Eagles
It’s unclear if general manager Brett Veach was ever interested in either Suh or Joseph — who were ironically drafted in the same year — but a contingent of fans was and the Chiefs could certainly use some help defending against tough runners.
As a team, KC has not been bad against the run by any means. In fact, it’s been a strength with a current top-five ranking in rushing yards against.
That statistic is slightly skewed by the fact that most teams don’t get the opportunity to run a lot versus the Chiefs, however, being that they’re usually playing from behind. Their yards per carry ranking is much more average, tied for 13th in the NFL.
In actuality, only certain teams have exposed the Kansas City run defense, which is why we used the term “tough runners” above. They’ve had a couple of poor outings — namely against the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans — where parts of the interior DL have really struggled.
The most guilty member of this unit has been fifth-year pro Derrick Nnadi, who the Chiefs have stood by despite calls to replace him. Suh was a popular option to do so but there’s another solid backup plan that’s already on the practice squad — eighth-year NFL run-stuffer Danny Shelton.
Is it possible that we see a Shelton promotion before the end of 2022?
Khalen Saunders Has Earned Starting Role
If Shelton has earned an opportunity, you can certainly argue that 2019 third-rounder Khalen Saunders deserves to be the starter alongside Chris Jones.
Saunders has outplayed Nnadi in every aspect of the position but has yet to receive a start. To some, that might be arbitrary considering the two have a similar snap count on the season (Nnadi leads by 13 snaps).
Having said that, you hope that Saunders is out there in the big moments. Pro Football Focus credits him with nine quarterback pressures (2.5 sacks) and 13 defensive stops (nine against the run). He’s only missed one tackle on the season with 30 total and two for a loss.
On the other side of the equation, Nnadi only has one quarterback pressure and three defensive stops (all against the run). He has also missed three tackles and registered zero tackles for a loss (15 total tackles).
The numbers speak for themselves, Suh and Joseph may not have been the answer at DT but an increased role for Saunders — or a Shelton elevation — could be.