Kansas City Chiefs start bringing back Super Bowl contributorsBy Matt Verderame
The Kansas City Chiefs have begun bringing back some of the key contributors from their Super Bowl run.
On Tuesday, general manager Brett Veach signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel and fullback Anthony Sherman to a pair of one-year deals. Neither will ever be household names for the average fan, or even the fairly hardcore fan. However each made a significant difference for Kansas City in 2019.
Sherman, who is the longest-tenured Chiefs player save for punter Dustin Colquitt, has become a core special teams player. In the Super Bowl, it was Sherman who sealed off San Francisco 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander. That facilitated the game-clinching touchdown jaunt by Kansas City running back Damien Williams.
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As for Pennel, the veteran defender was brought in as a free agent before Kansas City’s Week 8 game against the Green Bay Packers. With him on the field, the Chiefs went from one of the worst run defenses to above-average. The impact was immediate and significant, as outlined by FanSided.
In eight games without Pennel in the lineup, Kansas City has allowed 158.4 rushing yards per game on 5.39 yards per carry.
In 10 games with him (including playoffs), the Chiefs have surrendered 96.3 rushing yards on 4.28 YPC.
With Pennel and Sherman back in the fold for 2020, Veach can now turn his attention to cornerback Bashaud Breeland. The two sides have remained in communication with the star on the open market, but to this point, no pact has been broached.
Should the Kansas City Chiefs retain Breeland, the only notable losses they’ll have sustained off their championship roster will be corner/safety Kendall Fuller, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, guard Stefan Wisniewski and second-string tight end Blake Bell. None played 50 percent of their units snaps last year.
Of course, there’s still a long offseason ahead. No team is tighter against the salary cap than Kansas City, which has $112,465 in space — and that’s before the signings of Pennel and Sherman are accounted for. Veach will need to create room somehow. This could involve the releases or restructures of wide receiver Sammy Watkins and/or guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Kansas aims to become the first repeat champion since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. The Chiefs have gotten off to a good — if not quiet — start in free agency. They only have five draft picks (they’re without their sixth and seventh-rounders). Although they could add a key piece or two there as well.
Kansas City has been keeping their team together, and that’s scary for the rest of the NFL.