Chiefs Called Potential Trade Fit for ‘Dissatisfied’ Defensive Playmaker

Patriots' Kyle Dugger called trade fit for Chiefs ahead of NFL draft.

Getty An NFL writer believes New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger could be a fit for the Kansas City Chiefs via trade.

The Kansas City Chiefs lost veteran safety Mike Edwards to the Buffalo Bills this offseason, and although they still have Justin Reid and Bryan Cook on the roster as the projected starters at the position, they have not elected to replace him so far.

Remember, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo typically likes to employ a three-man rotation at safety to some extent. As of April 1, the in-house candidates for the safety three role would be 2023 draft pick Chamarri Conner, veteran special teamer Deon Bush, newcomer Trey Dean — a second-year prospect and former UDFA — and practice squad flyer Tyree Gillespie.

Is this room complete heading into Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and training camp?

It’s up to the KC front office to determine that, but Last Word On Sports NFL writer David Latham believes the Chiefs still profile as a potential buyer at safety — especially with Reid set to hit free agency in 2025 and Cook returning from injury. On March 31, Latham listed Kansas City as one of five possible trade “fits” for New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger.

The Pats used a transition tag on the defensive playmaker (nine career interceptions, two forced fumbles, two touchdowns) this offseason and according to Boston Herald reporter Andrew Callahan, Dugger “remains dissatisfied” with their efforts to extend him. He has yet to officially sign the tag, and there’s no guarantee that he plans to.

Callahan expects a max trade return of a fourth-round selection in the upcoming NFL draft but did not rule out New England moving on from the former second-round talent as they rebuild their roster.

Kyle Dugger Labeled as ‘Clear Upgrade’ on Chiefs Safeties

The big debate surrounding this trade suggestion would be upside. Is Dugger really worth trading for — and then potentially extending — when you already have Reid, Cook and Conner among others?

Latham was blunt in his opinion that Dugger would be a “clear upgrade on Kansas City’s current starters” at the safety position. Let’s dive into whether or not that’s an accurate assessment.

From an overall production standpoint, Dugger did accumulate more tackles than each of the Chiefs safeties in 2023 — with 109 total tackles and six for a loss. Reid was the closest to that amount with 95 tackles and five TFLs.

Tackles aren’t necessarily the best judge of efficiency, however. Dugger was credited with 27 key defensive “stops” according to Pro Football Focus, while Reid led KC with 32 key stops. His missed tackle rate was also slightly better than Dugger’s at 8.2% compared to 9.6%.

Having said that, Dugger was far better than Cook and Conner as an open-field tackler. Their respective missed tackle rates were both up over 15% in 2023.

In coverage, Dugger allowed 71.4% of his targets to be caught for 9.9 yards per reception (two touchdowns allowed, two interceptions, five pass breakups). His passer rating against was an 88.5, and he was charged with two penalties.

The Chiefs safeties’ coverage numbers were as follows (via PFF):

  • Reid; 64.4% reception rate, 10.6 yards per catch, four touchdowns allowed, one interception, four pass breakups, 99.8 passer rating against, three penalties.
  • Cook; 68.8% reception rate, 18.3 yards per catch, three touchdowns allowed, one interception, zero pass breakups, 125.0 passer rating against, zero penalties.
  • Conner; 83.3% reception rate, 9.1 yards per catch, zero touchdowns allowed, one interception, zero pass breakups, 75.2 passer rating against, zero penalties.

Finally, Reid led the way in most run defense metrics followed by Dugger and Cook/Conner.

If Traded for, Kyle Dugger Would Likely Start Alongside Justin Reid & Replace Him Long-Term

Based on the analytics, it’s obvious that Reid and Dugger are the two most well-rounded safeties of this discussion. If the Chiefs did pursue him as Latham suggested, he’d likely start alongside Reid in 2024 and then replace him long-term.

This would give Kansas City a solid four-man group heading into this year’s offseason program, eliminating one potential area of need in the draft. It would also create an interesting safety three competition between recent draft picks Cook and Conner.

While this trade would certainly improve Spagnuolo’s defensive versatility and depth, there’s a question of whether or not it’d be necessary with the youngsters that are already on the roster.

With Dugger, there’s more of a known track record and reliability at age 28, but he’d also cost more guaranteed money to extend. With Cook and Conner vying for a starting role, there’s more risk of a drop-off in consistency, but also more affordable upside if either of the two develop further at ages of 24 and 23.

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