The Kansas City Chiefs biggest weakness in 2020 was the offensive line, a unit decimated by injury that played a major role in the franchise failing to repeat as Super Bowl champion. Kansas City's offense failed to score a touchdown in Super Bowl LV, largely due to an offensive line that allowed Patrick Mahomes to be pressured on 29 of 56 dropbacks -- the most for any quarterback in the Super Bowl era.
Kansas City was decimated on the offensive line entering Super Bowl LV. Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher were knocked out by season-ending injuries during the year and starting guard Kelechi Osemele also was lost for the year due to injury. The end result was guard Andrew Wylie playing right tackle and Mike Remmers playing left tackle -- which turned out to be a disaster against Shaquil Barrett.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach vows to fix the offensive line, looking at all possible options to keep the offense elite. That includes in-house options and the free agency route.
"I certainly think it will be a combination of both," Veach said on a Zoom call Monday. "We had two opt-outs with LDT (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) and (Lucas) Niang and we certainly missed those two players throughout the course of the season, and we did a lot of shuffling as you know. Then, certainly the final blow was losing (Eric) Fisher in that Bills game, and that was a daunting task to go up against that front in the Super Bowl.
"So, we do like some of the young players and their progress and their development. Andrew Wylie has shown that he can play on a consistent level at that guard position, and (Nick) Allegretti took a step forward and we're anxious to get Niang back. So, we have a nice blend of some young players that have continued to get better and we think we'll continue to improve, but certainly our focus will be to bring in some new talent."
The Chiefs will have to get under the salary cap in 2021, as the franchise is currently a projected $23.8 million over the cap. Fortunately there will be some cheap offensive line options in free agency to patch some holes, and Duvernay-Tardif will be back to play right guard with Schwartz at right tackle. Austin Reiter is expected to remain at center and there still remains the possibility Osemele will return.
Veach is expecting Schwartz and Fisher to be back by training camp, but the Chiefs will be looking at more options to develop talent and add depth to a projected strong starting five up front.
"I like the way this draft looks," Veach said. "The draft looks to be really talented on the offensive line, so I think it will be a combination of what we have in-house and blending that in with some new talent, potentially in free agency and potentially in the draft. But I certainly like the way the draft is shaping up and I think it's safe to say we'll be addressing that in any area we can."