KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have contracted three free agents in recent days, including one of their own, and are about to return two players who left last season.
And they have work to do before they finish the job.
The Chiefs have made rebuilding their offensive line a priority this offseason after quarterback Patrick Mahomes was constantly pressured by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs wasted no time in recruiting guards Joe Tooney and Kyle Long, as well as Mike Remmers, who played both guard and tackle last season.
They still don’t have a clear candidate at left tackle and no one with initial experience at center. Eric Fisher, the Chiefs’ first left tackle, was recently released after undergoing surgery for a torn Achilles tendon, but he could eventually be re-contracted.
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The Chiefs actually have more than enough candidates to start at guard, including Tooney, Long, Laurent DuVernay-Tardif, Andrew Wiley and Nick Allegretti. Duvernay-Tardif, a former starter, quit last season because of COVID-19. Wiley and Allegretti were the starting goalies for most of last season.
Long and Tuney have played their careers primarily on defense, but Long was a one-season right tackle for the Chicago Bears in 2015 and made it to the Pro Bowl that year. Tuni played center for the New England Patriots last season.
Everyone has said they are open to changing their position.
I feel comfortable all over the offensive line, Long said. I’ve never played in the middle. I’m left-handed. I don’t know many leftist centrists, but I’m open to learning anything.
Tuni said I wanted to help the team where I could, in any way I could. I just want to contribute to the win, and that’s really my main goal, so wherever it is, I’m fine with it.
In their search for free agents, the Chiefs were interested in both good players and positions. Tooney, who didn’t miss a start in his five seasons with the Patriots, agreed to a contract with the Chiefs shortly after the trade deadline.
Joe is an impressive player, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. He is everything you look for in an offensive lineman with his toughness and work ethic. He’s also very smart, and you can see how that translates on the field.
Long has made it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons with the Bears. He hasn’t played a full season since 2015 due to injuries, and he said he sat out last season to get his body in shape. All this time he was preparing for his eventual return.
It was a huge opportunity for me to regain my physical, mental and emotional composure and regain control of my legs, Long said.
I knew as soon as they let me go to Chicago that I was going to come back, and I had to do everything in my power to get back to a place I knew I could get to and play football at the level I knew I could play it.
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