Chiefs ‘Desperately’ Need to Keep Projected $25 Million Starter

Mike Danna

Getty Former Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna at Arrowhead Stadium on January 29, 2023.

The Kansas City Chiefs are working to retain as many key players as possible for the 2024 NFL season. In addition to re-signing Chris Jones to a five-year, $158.57 million extension, they extended Drue Tranquill.

While cornerback L’Jarius Sneed‘s future remains unclear, he’s currently still a Chief on a one-year $19.8 million deal. As for former Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna, there’s been zero news.

Danna, drafted by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft, is projected to earn a three-year, $24.75 million contract in free agency, per Pro Football Focus. “As a versatile lineman who can play inside or out,” ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler dubbed him a “Sleeper Free Aent Getting Buzz.” However, there’s somehow been no buzz.

The 26-year-old recorded 6.5 sacks, 50 total tackles and 3 passes defensed last season. He participated in 76.4% of the team’s defensive snaps and 15.2% on special teams. SI’s Joshua Brisco urged Kansas City to scoop him back up.

“Danna got better consistently through his four years in Kansas City, he played a huge role in 2023, and he can do unique things that the Chiefs’ defensive coaching staff value,” Brisco wrote. “Quietly, the Chiefs desperately need another defensive end.”

“Behind (George) Karlaftis, the Chiefs have nothing but questions on the edge. Charles Omenihu will be coming off a torn ACL suffered in the AFC Championship Game, making his path to playing in Week 1 a difficult one. The Chiefs spent a first-round pick on Felix Anudike-Uzomah in 2023, but he saw the field very sparingly in his rookie season.”

B.J. Thompson, the Chiefs 2023 fifth-rounder, was also barely used. While the Chiefs could find another veteran in free agency, “Danna is still the most obvious candidate to stabilize KC’s defensive end group.”

Mike Danna Should Be the Chiefs ‘First Call’ After Freeing Up More Cap Space

According to, the Chiefs have approximately $7.6 million in cap space. The longer Danna sits in free agency, however, his market value may simultaneously dip.

KSN’s Zack Eisen suggested that Danna should be Kansas City’s “first call” once they figure out Sneed’s situation. If he’s traded, the Chiefs will open nearly $20 million in cap space. If Sneed is re-signed to a long-term extension, that could clear “anywhere from $8-12M, depending on the contract’s structure,” Eisen wrote.

“Assuming the Chiefs find a way to make space, they should focus on positions such as defensive end, running back and offensive tackle. Felix Anudike-Uzomah played 20% of the defensive snaps in the regular season last year and is slated to be a starting defensive end right now. It’d be nice to have less pressure on him heading into his sophomore season by signing a veteran to split snaps with him. Mike Danna is still available on the market and should be the first call to fill this role.”

Mike Danna Credited Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo & DT Chris Jones For His Ascent

Amid the uncertainty of his future, Danna spoke highly of his time with Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. “Spags is a wizard,” the Michigan alum told PFF in an interview published on March 6.

“His game plans for specific teams, specific matchups, are crazy. It all comes down to our trust in one another, our communication, but also his trust in 11 relentless guys.” The two-time Super Bowl champ also gave credit to Jones for “always helping the young guys and everybody.”

Chiefs analyst Seth Keysor hopes the 6-foot-2, 257-pounder remains in Kansas City. “The market I thought would materialize for Danna has not,” Keysor wrote in his newsletter on March 18.

“While he’s not a high-level 1×1 winner, he’s solid against the run on early downs and is a motor/power guy who can slide inside and provide you some wins from the interior on obvious passing downs. He was a valuable part of the Chiefs’ rotation last season even as Omenihu arrived and Karlaftis surpassed Danna as a pass rusher.”

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