Chiefs Urged to Sign ‘High-Quality’ TE to Replace Injured Blake Bell

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Tanner Hudson.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid announced on Tuesday, August 23 that veteran tight end Blake Bell underwent surgery for the hip flexor injury he sustained in the team’s preseason opener against the Chicago Bears.

This means the defending AFC West champions won’t have their highest-graded run blocking tight end by PFF in 2021 for an extended period of time (the exact timetable is unknown). While the Chiefs do still have five other tight ends on the roster (Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Jordan Franks, and Matt Bushman) none of those players possess Bell’s ability as a run blocker. So, it wouldn’t hurt to consider the idea of Kansas City bringing in another player at the position that is a strong run blocker.

That’s why one Chiefs analyst has just the player in mind that could help Kansas City fill that temporary void.

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Goldman: Chiefs Should Consider Tanner Hudson

Charles Goldman of the Chiefs Wire recently suggested that the Chiefs could be in the market to sign free agent tight end Tanner Hudson.

Hudson entered the NFL undrafted out of Southern Arkansas. He first caught on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May of 2018 and was active for a total of 12 games for the team over the next three seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.  During the 2021 offseason, Hudson signed with the San Francisco 49ers and was active for two games last season. The 49ers cut Hudson in the most recent set of roster cutdowns in the preseason.

Goldman made a compelling case as to how Hudson’s improved run blocking could benefit the Chiefs.

“According to Pro Football Focus, in 24 run-blocking snaps this preseason, Hudson recorded an 87.1 run-blocking grade,” Goldman wrote on August 24. “That’s the second-highest run-blocking grade among tight ends this preseason with a minimum of 20 snaps. It also ranks in PFF’s ‘high-quality’ range for grading. During the NFL’s regular season, it has actually been Hudson’s pass-blocking grades that have been best with above-average grades on the few snaps he’s played in pass protection since 2019.”

Should Chiefs Try to Replace Bell?

With the timetable for Bell still unknown, one has to wonder if the Chiefs will sign another tight end room while Bell is rehabbing post-surgery.

Although Kansas City does not have another tight end on the roster with Bell’s run-blocking ability, Bell’s absence might be something the team deals with by doing nothing at all. In other words — the Chiefs might try to fill Bell’s snaps with what they have on the roster.

Franks and Bushman aren’t expected to make the 53-man roster regardless of Bell’s status. Instead, it makes more sense for the Chiefs to roll with Kelce-Gray-Fortson until Bell returns. That in turn would leave them with what is still solid depth at tight end and could also leave room for an extra running back or offensive lineman on the roster.

Ultimately, more details on Bell’s rehab timetable are needed before any roster predictions can be more accurately made.

The Chiefs’ final preseason game will be against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football on August 25. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. CST.

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