NFL teams
Adam Teicher, ESPN Staff Writer 42d

Kansas City Chiefs free-agency overview: Help needed on the offensive line

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs enter 2021 NFL free agency coming off a 14-2 season in 2020 and have 18 unrestricted free agents.

The Chiefs haven't spent many of their resources on building their offensive line but it's time for that to change, particularly with tackles Mitchell Schwartz having missed most of the season with a back injury and Eric Fisher having missed Super Bowl LV with a torn Achilles tendon.

Here's what to expect from the Chiefs when the NFL offseason hits high gear with the start of free agency on March 17.

QUARTERBACK

Under contract: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Jordan Ta'amu, Anthony Gordon

UFA: None

Game plan: There's nothing for the Chiefs to do here but get Mahomes back to full strength after his post-Super Bowl surgery for turf toe. The expectation is that he will be ready to go by the start of training camp. Otherwise, the Chiefs may look for a developmental prospect to add to the mix, but these could be their QBs heading into camp.

RUNNING BACK

Under contract: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Derrick Gore

UFA: Le'Veon Bell, Anthony Sherman

Game plan: Darrel Williams is a restricted free agent. Assuming he re-signs, the Chiefs won't have much work to do here. That's particularly true if Damien Williams returns as the player he was in 2019 after opting out last season. Williams rushed for more than 100 yards and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of his last game, the Chiefs' Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers.

TIGHT END

Under contract: Travis Kelce, Sean Culkin, Evan Baylis

UFA: Ricky Seals-Jones

Game plan: The Chiefs could be shopping for an inexpensive receiving backup to Kelce because they have no realistic options under contract. Deon Yelder is a restricted free agent and Nick Keizer an exclusive rights free agent and they would help. But if the Chiefs are serious about adding a receiving threat beyond Kelce, they'll have to acquire him.

WIDE RECEIVER

Under contract: Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Maurice Ffrench, Jody Fortson, Antonio Callaway, Chad Williams

UFA: Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson

Game plan: If the Chiefs don't re-sign Watkins, they'll be in the market for a No. 2 wide receiver. They've shown no confidence in Hardman or restricted free agent Byron Pringle in that role. Beyond that, they need to rebuild their depth given how much they use three and four receivers. Robinson has served that role well but he may be done with the Chiefs.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Under contract: Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Nick Allegretti, Lucas Niang, Martinas Rankin, Yasir Durant, Bryan Witzmann, Darryl Williams, Prince Tega Wanogho

UFA: Austin Reiter, Kelechi Osemele, Mike Remmers, Stefen Wisniewski

Game plan: Given the situation with injuries and the way the season ended with the Chiefs being dominated in the Super Bowl by the Bucs, there's no more interesting position group on the roster this offseason. The return of Duvernay-Tardif and Niang, who opted out last season, would help. So would Fisher and Schwartz, if healthy. Either way, the Chiefs are overdue to invest in their line.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Under contract: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton, Mike Danna, Khalen Saunders, Tim Ward, Demone Harris, Austin Edwards, Tyler Clark

UFA: Tanoh Kpassagnon, Alex Okafor, Taco Charlton, Mike Pennel

Game plan: Kpassagnon, Okafor and Charlton are edge defenders, so if the Chiefs don't re-sign at least one, they'll be in the market for help. Except for Jones, they struggled to get pressure last season without blitzing, so upgrading the rush should be a priority regardless.

LINEBACKER

Under contract: Anthony Hitchens, Willie Gay, Dorian O'Daniel, Darius Harris, Emmanuel Smith, Omari Cobb

UFA: Damien Wilson

Game plan: Wilson and Ben Niemann, a restricted free agent, played a lot last season. The Chiefs will need replacements if they don't re-sign. Gay, a second-round draft pick last year, is an obvious candidate but injuries cloud his immediate future so the Chiefs may need to go shopping for help.

DEFENSIVE BACK

Under contract: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, L'Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, DeAndre Baker, BoPete Keyes, Armani Watts, Chris Lammons, Rodney Clemons

UFA: Bashaud Breeland, Daniel Sorensen, Antonio Hamilton

Game plan: This is another interesting position. Though the Chiefs have some depth, they stand to lose two regulars if Breeland and Sorensen move on. Also, cornerback Charvarius Ward is a restricted free agent. Assuming Ward is back, the Chiefs can line up and play here, but an upgrade and some depth wouldn't hurt.

KICKING SPECIALISTS

Under contract: Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, James Winchester

UFA: None

Game plan: The Chiefs don't have anything to do here. Townsend, a rookie punter last season, had a rough game in the Super Bowl but the Chiefs don't seem inclined to move on.

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