For the third offseason in a row, the KC Chiefs have had an enormous hole at one of football’s most important positions, and for a third offseason they have chosen to ignore it. This position is, of course, cornerback.
Back in 2018, Brett Veach made one of his first big moves as the Kansas City Chiefs general manager by sending star player Marcus Peters to Los Angeles in exchange for draft picks. Although the move was a bit unexpected, it certainly wasn’t shocking.
Peters had started his career with back to back All-Pro honors, but then quickly became a headache. His play on the field slipped due to his outright disinterest in tackling and he began eroding the locker room with his poor attitude, even getting suspended by the team at one point. Couple that with his other outbursts and the end result was a consensus that the Chiefs were better off without their 2015 first round selection.
This move though did leave Kansas City in desperate need of an upgrade at cornerback though. They had traded for Kendall Fuller earlier in the month, but he was viewed as a slot corner, not someone who would replace Peters’ talents.
There have been many times in the past couple years where the Chiefs were believed to be closing in on a cornerback. In the 2018 NFL draft, they traded up in the second round causing many to speculate they were hunting for Peters’ replacement. Instead the team opted for Breeland Speaks, a player who has been nothing more than a reserve in his two years.
In the summer of 2018, there was more speculation the team was looking to acquire a cornerback. First it was Sam Beal in the 2018 supplemental draft and later it appeared they were close to signing free agent Bashaud Breeland (much more on him later). Instead, the Chiefs stood pat and watched Tom Brady convert three third and long passes in overtime to advance to the Super Bowl.
2019 brought more of the same. The Chiefs did bring in Breeland, but after an injury plagued season, he was viewed as a minor deal. The Chiefs were consistently mentioned in trades for Patrick Peterson and Jalen Ramsey, but nothing ever came of those rumors for the teams.
Once again, they almost completely ignored cornerback in favor of upgrading the defensive line and safety position. Of course we know how that story ended. Those other positions the Chiefs upgraded all created big impacts and the cornerbacks were able to play at an average level that let the offense win Kansas City its first Super Bowl in 50 years.
Going into the 2020 offseason, many expected a large overhaul at the cornerback position.
Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland were both anticipated to be priced out of Kansas City and with five draft picks, this seemed like the perfect year for Brett Veach to pull the trigger early. He didn’t though, and the Chiefs waited till the end of the fourth round to address their weakest position on the team. The Chiefs were able to retain Breeland on a shockingly cheap deal, but now of course we know why.
Earlier this week, Breeland was arrested for a variety of charges including resisting arrest and drug possession. After this story went public, it was revealed that Breeland was already facing suspension for drug issues.
There’s too much to the Breeland situation to fully get into here, but for the sake of this article it’s safe to assume that Breeland will be – at best – missing a significant portion of the season. With Breeland out of the picture, the Kansas City Chiefs are now dangerously thin at cornerback.
The Chiefs need to throw even more on to the shoulders of Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton now that Breeland could miss time. Both played well last year, but one year wonders are common in the NFL. A sixth round pick and an undrafted free agent having one decent year then disappearing happens all over the league.
The Chiefs did draft two cornerbacks this year, but unfortunately they were both late round picks, so anything beyond special teams contributions this year would be surprising.
Tyrann Mathieu played a bit of cornerback in the past and is actually quite good. That being said, he’s at his best when he’s free to play all over the field. Sticking him in a specific role is doing the exact opposite of what made him an All-Pro last year.
Outside the roster, the options aren’t much better. The free agent market is now nothing more than players that are past their primes and/or have severe injury history.
Maybe the supplemental draft can offer the Chiefs hope. Unfortunately we’ll have to wait months for that and Kansas City will have to give up a solid pick next year if they do choose to go that route.
Unless the Chiefs are able to pull off a trade for a cornerback – again something that will be expensive – this is what the team has: a cornerback room with one veteran who’s facing major suspension and a group of young unproven players.
When you consider that almost all of the KC Chiefs’ AFC rivals made moves to improve their receiving cores, this should be even more concerning.
One can’t help but think that maybe if the Chiefs had made any kind of significant investment at cornerback in the past few years, they’d be sitting in a much more comfortable position. They didn’t, and now that decision threatens to be the biggest hurdle for this team and their attempt to repeat next year.