NFL free agency is off and running, and we’re keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2022 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins March 16 at 4 pm ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 on ESPN.
After struggling out of the gate in the 2021 season, the Chiefs rallied to reach the playoffs and then the AFC Championship Game for the fourth consecutive season after an epic overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round. But the season ended there and now the Chiefs are left to reload around quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
They started things early by assigning the franchise tag to left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., which secures the most important position on the offensive line.
Here’s a breakdown of every 2022 NFL free-agent signing by the Kansas City Chiefs, and how each will impact the upcoming season:
Former Houston Texans safety Justin Reid agreed to a three-year, $ 31.5 million deal that includes $ 20 million guaranteed with the Chiefs.
What it means: The Chiefs will be moving on from veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu. Reid is 25, or far younger than Mathieu, who will be 30 in May, and the Chiefs felt more comfortable sinking their money into a more youthful player. A source told ESPN Reid will receive $ 31.5 million with $ 20 million guaranteed over the three years. That’s likely less than it would have taken to re-sign Mathieu. Reid, with seven interceptions, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a pair of sacks in his four seasons with the Texans, has some of Mathieu’s playmaking ability.
What’s the risk: Mathieu brought a lot of value to the Chiefs both on and off the field and it will be interesting to see how well they operate without him. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo relied on him for a variety of roles. Otherwise, Reid is the type of signing that’s easy to like. He’s only 25, so the best seasons of his career di lui could well be the next three. If the Chiefs weren’t going to re-sign Mathieu, replacing him was a necessity and Reid may have been their best option in terms of price and fit.
The Chiefs are bringing back fullback Michael Burton on a one-year deal.
What it means: Burton doesn’t play much, but Andy Reid likes having a fullback on hand and the Chiefs will retain Burton, who joined the team last season. Burton won’t have much of an offensive role but will again be a regular on special teams. Last year, Burton rushed eight times for 26 yards and caught three passes for 31 yards.
What’s the risk: It is not. Burton will sign a one-year contract, so the Chiefs’ exposure will be minimal.
Franchise tag salary: $ 16.66 million
Career highlights: Brown is a three-time Pro Bowler, twice in his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and then last season with the Chiefs. Last year, Brown requested a trade to a team that would play him at left tackle, his preferred position di lui. He was mostly a right tackle with the Ravens. The Chiefs, after releasing longtime left tackle Eric Fisher, had a need and sent their 2021 first-round draft choice, among other picks, to the Ravens. Brown played well with the Chiefs, and at age 25 he looks to be their long-term solution at the position.
Why he was tagged: The Chiefs weren’t going to relinquish last year’s first-round draft pick in return for a one-year player. There was a sense when they completed the trade for Brown – who was then heading into the final year of his contract – and didn’t immediately sign him to a long-term extension that this was the likely outcome for Brown. The Chiefs, picking 30th in the first round this year, had no easy way of finding an adequate replacement for Brown if they decided to let him get to free agency.
What he brings: Brown, at 365 pounds, is bigger and stronger than most players at his position. Generally, if he gets his hands on an opposing pass-rusher, Brown wins that snap. But he doesn’t have quick feet for a tackle and can struggle at times with speed rushers. That’s one reason some teams were shy about acquiring Brown to play him at left tackle. But he had enough winning snaps last season that the Chiefs felt comfortable going forward with him at a most important line position.