Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents 2022: Re-signing Orlando Brown and Tyrann Mathieu should be top priority

The Kansas City Chiefs have a ton of players set to be free agents in 2022, including several key players on the defensive side of the ball.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a significant number of players set to be free agents in 2022. A handful of the Chiefs’ impending free agents are significant players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. With one of the worst cap situations in the NFL, Kansas City won’t be able to bring all these players back.

Kansas City Chiefs free agents in 2022

Following the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season, the Chiefs have 27 players with expiring contracts. 23 of them will be unrestricted free agents, three are exclusive rights free agents, and one is a restricted free agent. All players are unrestricted free agents unless stated.

Top Chiefs offensive free agents

The Chiefs have all of their elite offensive players locked up, but every roster needs depth and role players. To fill those spots, Kansas City will either have to re-sign the guys they already have or find replacements in free agency or the NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at the most prominent free agents on offense.

Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson | WR

Tyreek Hill is locked in as the Chiefs’ WR1, but they haven’t been able to figure out their WR2 for the entirety of his career. Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson mostly rotated behind Hill until Pringle took hold of the WR2 role during the second half of the 2021 season.

Pringle was solid, but he is more of a rotational WR3/4 than a reliable WR2. The Chiefs will certainly be in the market for a real WR2. Whether via free agency or the draft, they need someone. In all likelihood, at least one of Pringle or Robinson will end up elsewhere.

Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon | RB

The Chiefs’ running back situation is fascinating heading into 2022. They selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but he has largely disappointed due to underperformance and injury. Darrel Williams outplayed Edwards-Helaire during his time as the starter. In the playoffs, the Chiefs used Jerick McKinnon as their all-purpose back.

Williams will be 27 years old, and McKinnon is turning 30. How the Chiefs approach their backfield will provide considerable insight regarding their confidence in CEH.

I imagine there won’t be much of a market for Williams. As for McKinnon, potential suitors will have to balance his talent with his age and inability to stay on the field.

The Chiefs would be well served to bring back McKinnon over Williams, but McKinnon will almost certainly be more expensive. For a cap-strapped team, the answer to their RB depth situation will likely come down to cost.

Orlando Brown | OL

Last year, the Chiefs traded their 2021 first-round pick, a 2021 third-round pick, a 2021 fourth-round pick, and a 2022 fifth-round pick for Orlando Brown, a 2021-second round pick, and a 2022-sixth round pick. He made under $1 million in the final year of his rookie deal.

Given what the Chiefs gave up to acquire Brown, I can’t see them letting him go. If necessary, they may slap him with the franchise tag. The goal is to sign him to an extension, though. Whichever way they go, I expect Brown to be back with the Chiefs for the 2022 season.

Top Chiefs defensive free agents

Where the Chiefs are going to have tough decisions to make is on defense. Several vital contributors are set to become free agents. Who are the top defensive free agents, and will Kansas City be able to bring most of them back?

Tyrann Mathieu | S

Tyrann Mathieu is entering his age-30 season, but he’s still one of the better safeties in the league. Mathieu made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons and has missed just two games over the past five years.

The problem for the Chiefs is Mathieu made $14 million in 2021 and just had another good season. Currently, Kansas City has just $3.7 million in available cap space, according to Spotrac. There’s also an upcoming draft class they need to sign. Mathieu publicly expressed his desire to remain with the Chiefs. Nevertheless, it’s very possible the team simply cannot afford to retain him, which would be a significant blow to their secondary.

Melvin Ingram | EDGE

Melvin Ingram has had a very nice career. He made three straight Pro Bowls from 2017 to 2019. After spending his entire career with the Chargers, Ingram signed with the Steelers in 2021 but was unhappy with his situation and was traded to the Chiefs midseason.

Ingram is 33 years old but can still be a useful player. He made $4 million in 2021. He’s also expressed an interest in returning to Kansas City. Given his age, the Chiefs should be able to bring him back if they want to do so. This feels like a situation where it will happen if both sides want it to.

Charvarius Ward | CB

Charvarius Ward played 2021 on the final year of his rookie deal. He had 10 passes defended and 48 solo tackles. By all accounts, he was the Chiefs’ best cover cornerback.

Ward is due for a nice raise in 2022. Given the Chiefs’ cap situation, they may have some difficulty bringing him back. Wherever Ward ends up, he will be a useful player in coverage. He projects more as a CB2 than CB1, but he’s still just 27 years old and should continue to improve.

The Chiefs’ other free agents in 2022

What other Chiefs players are free agents in 2022? Some of these players inevitably won’t return next season.

  • Jarran Reed | DT
  • Mike Remmers | OT
  • Mike Hughes | CB
  • Daniel Sorensen | S
  • Chad Henne | QB
  • Ben Niemann | LB
  • Kyle Long | G
  • Blake Bell | TE
  • Alex Okafor | DE
  • Austin Blythe | G
  • Michael Burton | FB
  • Derrick Nnadi | DT
  • Andrew Wylie | OL
  • Marcus Kemp | WR (RFA)
  • Dorian O’Daniel | LB
  • Chris Lammons | CB (ERFA)
  • Armani Watts | S
  • Joe Fortson | WR (ERFA)
  • Derrick Gore | RB (ERFA)

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