Chiefs general manager Brett Veach watched helplessly as Patrick Mahomes got smashed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers front four in Super Bowl LV. Fortunately for Mahomes, Veach wasted no time addressing the offensive line in free agency.
The Chiefs signed free agent left guard Joe Thuney to a 5-year, $80 million contract on the first day of free agency. Thuney was an All-Pro guard with the New England Patriots. He has proven in his career that he is a great pass blocker and a force in the running game. This move was just foreshadowing Brett Veach’s aggressiveness.
The Chiefs also proceeded to sign veteran guard Kyle Long and center Austin Blythe to 1-year contracts. Kyle Long was a Pro Bowl guard with the Chicago Bears, and he decided to come out of retirement to play for the Chiefs. Long offers versatility as he can play both guard spots and even right tackle in a pinch if needed. Austin Blythe was formally the Rams starting center and he was prolific in the running game. Blyth offers good depth at center and though he may not start, he’s still a more than capable interior player.
The move of the offseason came when the Chiefs traded for Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs only had to part ways with their 2021 1st rounder, 3rd, 4th, and a 2022 5th round pick in exchange for the 25-year-old. Orlando Brown Jr. offers much needed stability for Patrick Mahomes on the left side of the line. Mahomes finally received that consistent blindside blocker that the team was searching for after releasing Eric Fisher earlier this offseason. You could even say Brown might be an eventual upgrade from Eric Fisher.
The Chiefs also have two crucial pieces returning to the offensive line this year after opting out last year due to COVID concerns. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was helping to fight the pandemic on the front line, will return to the team this season. Lucas Niang, who was a 3rd round draft pick in 2020, will try to beat out Mike Remmers for the starting right tackle job and if he does, it will be a great sign for the future of the line.
Speaking of the draft, the Chiefs selected a few more lineman for good measure. They selected center Creed Humphrey from Oklahoma in the 2nd round, and Trey Smith, a guard from Tennessee in the 6th. Humphrey was regarded by many analysts as the best center in the draft. Creed Humphrey will have the opportunity to win the starting center job coming out of camp with his great size and athleticism. The Chiefs front office was most likely shocked that Humphrey fell to them at the end of the 2nd, which made this pick a no-brainer.
Trey Smith was widely considered a mid-round talent, but unfortunately due to his history of blood clots his draft stock tanked. He will offer great depth at right guard and could potentially contribute in the near future and maybe even become a starter if he stays healthy.
When you add it all together the Chiefs offensive line will look completely different from last year. I would say, the Chiefs turned one of their biggest weaknesses into one of their biggest strengths. The offensive line is looking like a brick wall from left to right. Brett Veach was able to completely rebuild this offensive line in a single offseason. That takes great determination to completely flip the outlook of an entire position group and still maintain flexibility. In my opinion, a very impressive feat by one of the best GM’s in the league!