Opinion

The Monday Huddle: Chiefs free agency grades

To date, the Kansas City Chiefs under second-year General Manager Brett Veach, have been active and decisive in their off-season moves. Granted the NFL Draft is still a month away, and there are some talented free agents still available for KC, but thus far the Chiefs have graded out strongly with their 2018 additions.

1. CB Kendall Fuller (Redskins) – Granted, he wasn’t a free agent addition, he came via the Alex Smith trade, but he’s a strong addition to KC’s defense. It was this move that set off the chain reaction that allowed the Chiefs to trade their star cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams.

Fuller was a stud for the Redskins last year, and his inclusion in the Smith trade might go down as the off-season’s best move. Fuller is a slot corner, who could be forced outside with Peters’ departure, out of necessity. Though the Chiefs lost out on Kendall’s brother, Kyle Fuller of the Bears, I’ve not seen enough that little brother can play outside, but I love his addition to the roster. GRADE: A-

2. CB David Amerson (Raiders) – Just the fact the Chiefs signed him away from the Raiders, who have had a woeful offseason to date, puts a big smile on my face. Amerson has been a mixed bag in the NFL, because at times, he’s looked like an All Pro. While on the flip side, injuries have limited his overall growth as a starting cornerback.

The Chiefs need Amerson, who signed a “prove-it” one-year contract, to exceed what Peters did on the field when he was focused and not throwing temper tantrums. If Amerson can remain healthy, and use his God-given gifts, he could be as successful as the man he was signed to replace. Still, it’s a big risk Veach took in dumping Peters after he acquired Amerson. So, the former Raider must deal with the fact that he will always be compared to KC’s troubled corner. GRADE: B+

3. WR Sammy Watkins (Rams) – Before the offseason began, I didn’t care what moves the Chiefs made, if at the bare minimum they could sign just one player in free agency: Sammy Watkins. Low and behold, after the Rams failed to franchise their star receiver, the Chiefs were first at the free agent “door” for his services with a vault of cash to prove that they were serious in obtaining him.

Granted the cash KC paid out registered to NFL on-lookers as insane. However, when you think about what Watkins could mean to the Chiefs offense, it’s honestly a no-brainer. With Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, implanted as the starter this season, and Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt at his side, Watkins puts KC’s offensive potential into the stratosphere. GRADE: A

4. LB Anthony Hitchens (Cowboys) – With the departure of Linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs had a massive hole to fill at inside linebacker. DJ was a KC legend and not every athlete can fill those shows. However, when Hitchens signed with KC on the first day of free agency, he admitted that DJ was his idle. So, in that vein, Hitchens understands he will have to deal with that comparison throughout his tenure with the Chiefs.

To me, Hitchens reminds me of a faster Sam Mills. His size won’t scare you, but his closing speed, and inner drive to find the man with the ball, remains a quality you simply can’t coach. That’s why the Chiefs gave him a five-year deal. Hitchens, along with 2017 acquisition Reggie Ragland, gives a pair of young, fast and seasoned NFL starters at inside linebacker. If they can mesh early in 2018, this duo could be exciting to watch. GRADE: B

5. QB Chad Henne (Jaguars) – With the promotion of Mahomes to starter, Veach had to find a veteran quarterback, with starting experience, and the ability to prepare Mahomes for what he’s about to face in 2018. Henne certainly isn’t a starter based on NFL standards, but in a pinch, can run the show. But his job for the next two years will be to make sure Mahomes is ready to lead and guide KC to a Super Bowl.

In Jacksonville, the last two seasons, Henne tutored QB Blake Bortles, who led his team to the AFC Championship game earlier this year. It was that mentor-ship that Veach felt Henne was the best candidate to serve as Mahomes understudy. It was clear to Veach with the addition of Henne from Jacksonville, that Bortles seemed to find a groove this past season. Now KC’s GM hopes Henne can do the same with Mahomes. GRADE: C+

6. DT Xavier Williams (Cardinals) – On paper this was one of the Chiefs best offseason moves. Williams fills an incredible hole in the middle of KC’s suspect defensive line. Yes, I know Chris Jones is part of that line, but the rest of the cast is underwhelming to say the least. However, the addition of the local KC product, offers the Chiefs a durable, young and highly motivated young defender to ascend into a starting role in Kansas City. GRADE: A-

7. RB Damien Williams (Dolphins) – I’ve always believed that when your team has a weakness you do whatever it takes to improve that flaw. However, I’m also a big proponent in adding to your strength. In signing Williams, the Chiefs have another power back in the mix to back-up 2017 NFL rushing title champion, Kareem Hunt. With this signing by the Chiefs, for a below average runner, it appears KC might not be convinced Spencer Ware will be ready to start the regular season. If he is ready, looks like KC will likely trade Charcandrick West or cut him post June 1st. GRADE: C

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