KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs could, if this was necessary, line up and play a game tomorrow and be competitive with many if not all teams they might face.
Tomorrow is almost six months away from when the Chiefs will have to play their next regular season game. But their roster, with whatever remains of free agency plus the draft still to come, already is in good shape.
The Chiefs have some thin spots, particularly at inside linebacker and running back. At inside linebacker, their best player, Derrick Johnson, will turn 35 in November and is coming off a season-ending Achilles tendon injury. At running back, the rushing game suffered last season without a big-play back.
John Dorsey has tried to have a competitive roster heading into the draft since he joined the Chiefs as general manager in 2013. That way, the Chiefs are free to draft at whatever positions they wish rather than being locked into certain positions because of need.
The Chiefs may not be done in free agency, either. They have some salary cap room after Johnson and fullback Anthony Sherman agreed to reduced salaries. The NFL Players Association recently showed the Chiefs to have about $4.8 million in cap space.
Here is a position-by-position look at where the Chiefs stand:
Quarterback (3): After losing Nick Foles to the Eagles in free agency, the Chiefs have no experienced backup for starter Alex Smith. Tyler Bray and Joel Stave are the other quarterbacks and neither has so much as taken a snap in an NFL game. The Chiefs may look for an experienced backup to Smith and they also may add a developmental quarterback through the draft.
Running back (7): The Chiefs signed veteran C.J. Spiller, who would solve the need for a big-play back if he can again become the player he was early in his career. Otherwise, the Chiefs almost certainly will add a back through the draft to address the concern. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are the top returning backs.
Wide receiver (8): The top five pass-catchers at these positions return. They’re counting on Jeremy Maclin to bounce back and Chris Conley to continue his development, so the Chiefs are unlikely to look for immediate help unless there’s a receiver they really like who’s available early in the draft.
Tight end (4): The Chiefs didn’t get much from their tight ends other than Travis Kelce last season. They still like the receiving potential of Ross Travis, who played basketball but not football in college and still is learning his craft.
Offensive line (13): Every lineman who played at least one snap last season will be back. The Chiefs will go into a season returning the same group of starters on the line for the first time in a long time. Each of their top linemen except guard Zach Fulton is signed at least through the 2018 season.
Defensive line (9): The biggest positional change is here, where the Chiefs signed free agent Bennie Logan to replace the departed Dontari Poe. Otherwise, Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard will be back from injuries. They’ll join Logan and Chris Jones to give the Chiefs a solid playing rotation for next year. But Logan, who signed for just one year, and Howard could be free agents next year, so the Chiefs could be looking to draft one or more linemen.
Linebacker (13): The top 10 players in terms of number of snaps from last season are back. The Chiefs are eager to have Justin Houston (knee surgery) back and at full strength for the first time in almost two full seasons. On the inside, the Chiefs struggled after losing Johnson last season. He missed three full games and part of a fourth, but still played more snaps than any of their linebackers.
Defensive back (14): The Chiefs again went for continuity here by re-signing safeties Eric Berry and Daniel Sorensen. Each of the 10 defensive backs who played last season will be back, and the Chiefs recently added safety Marqueston Huff as a free agent.