Expect Dorsey and Reid to keep reshaping the Chiefs’ roster this off-season
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Virtually from the moment that Chiefs coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey came on board a year ago, they began strategizing on ways to reshape the roster.
Within two months of their hiring, they began wheeling and dealing with a seemingly endless series of moves including the trade for Alex Smith and the re-signing of Branden Albert (franchise tag), Dwayne Bowe and Dustin Colquitt.
They continued to maneuver with the free-agent signings of Donnie Avery, Chase Daniel, Anthony Fasano, Geoff Schwartz, Sean Smith, Mike DeVito and Dunta Robinson. They made a key trade for fullback Anthony Sherman.
The NFL Draft brought in Eric Fisher, Travis Kelce, Nico Johnson, Knile Davis, Sanders Commings and Mike Catapano, among others.
The additions never seemed to stop: Marcus Cooper, Sean McGrath, Ron Parker, Akeem Jordan and so on.
The moves all contributed to an 11-5 regular season and playoff spot, though the season ended in major disappointment with the playoff loss to Indianapolis.
But rest assured, Dorsey and Reid will continue to mold the roster this off-season. They’ll have to.
Here’s a look at some areas of need:
OFFENSIVE LINE: First overall draft pick Eric Fisher struggled at times and battled numerous injuries, but the staff is content with him at right tackle. And the interior of the line got better as the season wore on. The problem could be at left tackle, where the Chiefs have the option of jettisoning Albert, who was given the franchise tag last season. Albert is a free agent again and the Chiefs love the development of Donald Stephenson. Schwartz was a valuable swingman but is a free agent and needs to be re-signed. The Chiefs again will likely draft a tackle to develop.
TIGHT END: When healthy, Fasano was serviceable, if not a game-breaker. The Chiefs are hoping Kelce, who was injured all last season, will give them some pop at the position in the passing game. McGrath was adequate. As much as Reid loves tight ends in his offense, expect another to be taken in the draft.
WIDE RECEIVER: Definite area of need. Bowe played perhaps his best game of the season in the playoffs, but the Chiefs need a reliable threat on the other side. Avery proved he could be a deep threat, but the Chiefs need to add more weapons here. The draft, we’re told, is deep with wide receivers. Junior Hemingway continues to be an intriguing project with good size (6 feet 1, 225 pounds). A.J. Jenkins showed flashes in brief appearances. Dexter McCluster, a valuable weapon on offense and on punt returns, is a free agent and absolutely must be re-signed.
QUARTERBACK: Alex Smith proved the doubters wrong with a solid first season in Kansas City. He protected the ball and shed his image as just a game manager by having a brilliant and highly productive playoff game. Chase Daniel showed exceptional promise in his first NFL start at San Diego. Tyler Bray is a project, and look for Dorsey to draft another quarterback to develop.
RUNNING BACK: Knile Davis showed he can be a force as a backup to all-everything Jamaal Charles. But it wouldn’t hurt to get more depth through the draft. Sherman was a terrific pickup who excels at blitz pickups and can catch the ball out of the backfield.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A big area of need. Tyson Jackson is a free agent and there is some question whether the Chiefs will tie up cap money to bring him back. DeVito is solid at holding his gap but not a great threat to sack the quarterback or tackle runners for loss. Nose tackle Dontari Poe had his best year as a pro. But this is an area Dorsey likely will attack aggressively through the draft.
LINEBACKER: As I have mentioned often, the trio of Derrick Johnson-Tamba Hali-Justin Houston is as good as it gets when healthy. The upgrade needs to come at the other inside slot, manned this season by the steady-but-unremarkable Jordan. The Chiefs may have that upgrade in Nico Johnson, but he was a disappointment in camp and couldn’t unseat Jordan. Another area Dorsey will fill through the draft.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: There likely will be a lot of moving parts here as safeties Kendrick Lewis and Quintin Demps are free agents. Lewis fought through injuries but was exposed mightily at Indy. So was Demps. Commings is a hard hitter and could be the answer, but he is raw. Slot corner Robinson is signed for two more years but was benched earlier this year and had a brutally bad playoff game. He might get released. Corner Sean Smith, after a promising start, was exposed down the stretch, but the Chiefs remain high on his ability. Husain Abdullah was a pleasant surprise with a nose for the ball; he’s a free agent but should be re-signed. Youngsters Cooper and Parker are worth developing. Another area Dorsey will seek to upgrade through the draft.
SPECIALISTS: Colquitt is as good as it gets at punter and it’s hard to believe he didn’t make the Pro Bowl, at the very least out of reputation. Kicker Ryan Succop had a rough patch toward the end of regulation and missed the game-winner at San Diego, but he bounced back with a 2-for-2 day in the playoffs. He also was ninth in the NFL in touchbacks (47). No need to upgrade here.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email email@example.com.