Kansas City Chiefs’ NFL free-agent signings 2021: Joe Thuney begins OL rebuild – NFL Nation
NFL free agency is off and running, and we’re keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2021 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins March 17 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2021 NFL draft begins April 29 on ESPN.
The Chiefs are attempting in 2021 to become just the fourth franchise to appear in three straight Super Bowls. They couldn’t repeat as NFL champions last season, losing in Super Bowl LV to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9.
They’ll bring back a solid group of returning players, led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. But the loss to the Bucs revealed more than a few flaws, the biggest being that the Chiefs need to pay more attention in free agency and the draft than they have to the offensive line, which was overwhelmed in the Super Bowl by the Bucs’ defensive front.
The Chiefs and free-agent offensive lineman Joe Thuney have agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal.
What it means: The Chiefs are serious about rebuilding their offensive line. Days after releasing two of their better lineman in tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, the Chiefs are sinking big money into perhaps the best guard on the free-agent agent market. Assuming Laurent Duvernay-Tardif returns after opting out of last season, the Chiefs should be set at guard. The Chiefs could have an entirely new starting offensive line in 2021 from last year’s season opener.
What’s the risk: There’s always a risk in signing big-money free agents. The Chiefs might not get an adequate return on their investment. In this case, though, there was more risk for the Chiefs with inaction. The Chiefs were dominated up front in the Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and couldn’t risk that happening again. Finding better protection for quarterback Patrick Mahomes was job No. 1 during this offseason, and this signing is a great start.