Chiefs Urged to Swipe Veteran Pass Rusher From Major AFC Rival

Jerry Hughes

Getty Buffalo Bills free agent Jerry Hughes could be an affordable option for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs have begun to make a few signings but there’s still one hole they have yet to fill, pass rusher.

General manager Brett Veach did successfully restructure Frank Clark’s contract to keep him with the franchise but impending free agent Melvin Ingram III has yet to sign. With a deep edge rusher draft class on the horizon in late April, Veach might wait until May to decide on adding a veteran.

The free-agent market has been incredibly slow at EDGE, so there’s really no reason to rush at this time. Still, it’s nice to have a couple of backup plans in place, and Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine suggested an intriguing option.

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Hughes Called ‘Underrated’ Fit for Chiefs

During a B/R article ranking the “NFL’s most underrated free agents left on the market,” Ballentine highlighted former Buffalo Bills pass rusher Jerry Hughes as the perfect affordable signing for the Chiefs.

He reasoned:

Jerry Hughes likely just played his last season as a starter as he enters his age-34 season. But if he’s your team’s third pass-rusher, that’s a good situation. Hughes’ two sacks were his lowest output since 2011, and his snap share dwindled to 52 percent last year with the Buffalo Bills. Still, he was winning his one-on-one matchups at a good clip. According to PFF, he has posted a 90th percentile pass-rush grade and pass-rush win rate over the last three seasons. He could latch on to a contender that is willing to give him a specialized role and send him after the passer.

Ballentine concluded: “The Chiefs would make sense from that perspective. They have yet to re-sign Melvin Ingram III and could use a cheap pass-rusher. Frank Clark led all Kansas City defensive ends with 4.5 sacks in 2021.”

Hughes has 65 career sacks — 60 for Buffalo — and would provide a mix of experience and savvy in the locker room. He’s also accustomed to being a part of a contender, and his arrival would mean one less pass rusher on the Super Bowl rival Bills.

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Does Hughes Make Sense for KC?

As Ballentine alluded to, a one-year deal on a player like Hughes would virtually replace Ingram, so this only makes sense if the popular trade deadline sparkplug does not return.

Even if he walks in free agency, Veach could forgo signing a veteran altogether. Kansas City currently has four selections in the top 62 picks and as mentioned above, this draft class is loaded at edge rusher.

Let’s not forget about 2021 fourth-round prospect Joshua Kaindoh, who practically red-shirted his rookie campaign. The Florida State product appeared in three games, logging 46 snaps on defense and none on special teams.

Michael Danna, Malik Herring, Jonathan Woodard and Austin Edwards make up the rest of the reserve options behind Chris Jones (DT/DE) and Clark.

If Hughes can be had on the cheap, it wouldn’t be the worst idea to bring him in as a mentor that still flashes some talent from time to time. Having said that, Veach should be targeting younger, more explosive pass rushers that can reinvigorate this defensive line.

With the additional money and draft capital that was acquired in the Tyreek Hill trade, the Chiefs could really beef up their defense in the next couple of months. It would be both ironic and refreshing if Steve Spagnuolo’s unit turned into a strength in 2022.