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Chiefs' offseason issue: Making De'Anthony Thomas more productive

The Chiefs need to get more from De'Anthony Thomas, who was moved from running back as a rookie in 2014 to slot receiver last season. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs gather on April 18 for the start of their offseason program, though they won’t be on the field for their first full-squad practice for about a month. Still, the offseason program gives them a chance to at least start to settle several of the issues that confront them.

We’re looking here at one of those issues: finding a way to make wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas more productive.

Thomas’ 2015 season ended in mystery. He suffered a concussion in a November game against the Chargers, returned to practice late in the season and looked ready to return to game action. Then, without further elaboration, the Chiefs ended his season by placing him on the non-football illness list.

His future with the Chiefs, already looking tenuous, appeared even more in peril after the end of the season when a San Francisco area radio station reported the Chiefs and 49ers were talking about a trade involving Thomas.

But general manager John Dorsey denied recently he had talked with the 49ers about Thomas and said he remained in their plans.

“He’s a Kansas City Chief and he will continue to be a Kansas City Chief,” Dorsey said.

All of this obscures another issue with Thomas: He hasn’t been productive in his two seasons with the Chiefs.

Thomas is a talented player. He’s fast and opponents have to respect his speed whether he gets the ball or not. The Chiefs have been a better offensive team with him on the field regardless of where they go with the ball.

Still, in two seasons covering 22 games, Thomas has 40 catches for 296 yards and one receiving touchdown. He also scored twice on running plays. Thomas’ longest gain on offense is 36 yards.

That’s not much from a player drafted to supply big plays. Thomas’ main value to the Chiefs has been as a kick returner.

The Chiefs will be better if they get more from Thomas. But he moved from running back as a rookie in 2014 to slot receiver last year and that would indicate the Chiefs aren’t sure how to best make that happen.