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Pursuing Zach Orr is an option for Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Like most NFL teams, the Kansas City Chiefs are pretty much set with their roster until August. However, they may decide to make a run at signing linebacker Zach Orr.

Free agent signings in June and July are rarely ever important moves. However, that is because players like Zach Orr aren’t supposed to be available right now. The former All Pro linebacker is returning to the NFL, and the Kansas City Chiefs could look to make a move for him.

Zach Orr is one of those football stories that you hope to see a documentary on one day. Diagnosed with a congenital neck and spine condition in January this year, Orr thought his career was over and retired from the NFL. However, this week he announced that due to a change in his diagnosis, he would be returning to the league.

Immediately, Zach Orr became the most popular name in the league among the rabid fans still talking football in late June. Speculation on how great he could be for each team ran the full gamut. Apparently Orr has been the missing piece for every team in the NFL.

That’s hardly unexpected when you consider that Zach Orr was a 2nd team All-Pro in 2016. He wasn’t supposed to be a free agent this late in the year. If it hadn’t been for that diagnosis, he probably would have never become a free agent at all. So this is certainly a special case.

Chiefs Kingdom Goes Crazy

If you’ve been following along the Kansas City Chiefs chat boards this offseason, then it is no surprise that many fans are calling for Zach Orr. It has been a common narrative all offseason that the Chiefs need to find a linebacker to replace the aging Derrick Johnson. Many are saying Zach Orr is the man to do. Of course, earlier this month the man to do it was supposedly David Harris.

Related Story: Kansas City Chiefs Being Patient With Free Agent Moves

I haven’t been on board with this narrative at all this year. I am a firm believer that the Chiefs have their starting inside linebackers of the future in Ramik Wilson and Justin March-Lillard. That has been reinforced, in my view, by the fact that Kansas City has not made any big moves at the position this offseason.

However, it may be that the Chiefs simply didn’t see an opportunity to make a worthwhile move. If that is the case, and KC is looking for a new ILB, then Zach Orr does make a lot of sense. His natural ability as a playmaker is an added wrinkle for any defensive system. He is solid in coverage and attacking the run, which is exactly what the Chiefs would be looking for.

Not So Fast

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Of course, we should all take a moment to anchor ourselves in reality. A player’s word on his health is probably the least reliable thing in all of football. If you were to take a survey of all the players in the NFL, about 90% of them would probably tell you that they’ve “never felt better”. Until a team doctor gives him the “all clear”, everything is speculative.

On top of that, you have the money angle. Zach Orr is still coming off of an All Pro season. The injury concern certainly limits his options, but Orr is not going to come cheap. The most likely scenario for a deal at this point is a one-year contract with a lot of incentives. That actually does not set up well for a Chiefs team with cap concerns for next year.

Then there is also the very real possibility that the Chiefs simply are not looking for an inside linebacker. I’ve made the argument that Ramik Wilson and Justin March-Lillard are the future starters there. If that is what the Kansas City staff is thinking, then they will be perfectly content to pass on Zach Orr…as they apparently were with David Harris.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a very talented roster. However, there is always room for improvement. The question is where and when will the Chiefs make adjustments to their roster. Is inside linebacker one of those spots? Only time will tell, but if they are looking there, then Zach Orr is definitely a top option.