Here's a breakdown of the Kansas City Chiefs' 2019 free-agent signings:
Bashaud Breeland, cornerback
The Chiefs signed Breeland to a one-year contract on Monday. Here’s a closer look at the cornerback who spent last season with the Packers after playing four with Washington:
What it means: The Chiefs addressed their biggest remaining positional need by signing Breeland. Among their top three cornerbacks from last season, Steven Nelson signed with the Steelers as a free agent and the Chiefs have shown no interest in re-signing Orlando Scandrick. The Chiefs also have two younger cornerbacks in Charvarius Ward and Tremon Smith but they can plug Breeland in as one starter along with Kendall Fuller. Corner still remains a position to watch for the Chiefs in the draft but it’s no longer a necessity.
What’s the risk: With Breeland signing a one-year deal, both he and Fuller are heading into the final seasons of their contracts. Plenty of time remains for the Chiefs to re-sign one or both but the Chiefs could still be looking for two starting corners next year, unless Ward, Smith or someone they draft this year develops.
Tyrann Mathieu, safety
What it means: The Chiefs have their center fielder, the strong coverage defender at safety they've lacked the past couple of years, ever since they lost Eric Berry in the 2017 season opener. Mathieu is versatile enough to also be an effective run defender. The Chiefs will plug him in at free safety but he'll need a running mate after the Chiefs released Berry Wednesday. The Chiefs might also draft a safety. Mathieu, after some injury troubles earlier in his career, hasn't missed a game the past two seasons. He also won't turn 27 until May, part of the reason he was more attractive to the Chiefs than Earl Thomas.
What's the risk: The Chiefs have a lot invested in their safeties. They need to get plenty of return on that -- or at least more than they have the past two seasons -- because they’ve passed up other opportunities to help their defense in order to re-sign Berry two years ago and now to sign Mathieu.
Alex Okafor, DE
The Chiefs signed Alex Okafor to a 3-year deal on Thursday. Here's a closer look at the defensive end who spent the previous two seasons with the New Orleans Saints:
What it means: The Chiefs, after releasing Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford, finally added a defensive end for their new 4-3 base scheme. Okafor will occupy one starting spot with the other going to Breeland Speaks, who was drafted last season in the second round.
What's the risk: Okafor, with 22 career sacks in six NFL seasons for the Cardinals and Saints, hasn't been a prolific pass-rusher. He had four sacks in 16 starts for New Orleans last season. The Chiefs may be able to help make Okafor more productive with their scheme. But the Chiefs lost 22 sacks between Houston and Ford last season. Okafor may not help much in replacing that lost production.
Carlos Hyde, running back
What it means: Hyde might fill the RB2 spot occupied at the end of last season by Spencer Ware, who is headed to free agency. But he eventually could claim a significant amount of playing time from Damien Williams, who for now is the Chiefs' featured back. Hyde, at 235 pounds, is a big, versatile back -- the type favored by general manager Brett Veach. "We certainly like bigger backs," Veach said at the NFL combine. "I kind of have a thing for 220-pound backs that can run and catch and block." The Chiefs could also draft a back, though that isn't the necessity it was before the Hyde signing.
What's the risk? Not much, given that Hyde is on a one-year contract. He'll begin the Chiefs' portion of his career as a backup, though his role could evolve into something more. Given his size and versatility, Hyde should be a good fit in the Chiefs' offense. If he doesn't work out, the Chiefs could move on without losing much.
Damien Wilson, linebacker
The Chiefs signed Wilson to a two-year deal. Here’s a closer look at the linebacker who spent the previous four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys:
What it means: Wilson will be first in line to start at one of the outside linebacker spots in the Chiefs’ new 4-3 base defensive system. But it will be interesting to see whether he holds on to the job. Wilson spent the past four seasons with the Cowboys, but was never more than a part-time starter. Wilson played in all 16 games in each of his Dallas seasons but started a total of 22 games. On the other hand, he won’t turn 26 until May, so maybe the Chiefs can get more out of him than the Cowboys did.
What’s the risk: Dorian O’Daniel played well enough in increased playing time toward the end of his rookie season last year that he appeared in line to at least compete for a starting job in 2019. He still may be given that chance. But will Wilson’s presence stunt his development?