KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs were so confident in their Super Bowl-winning roster from the 2019 season that they did everything they could to bring it back intact, signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones to huge deals and reworking other contracts to make the numbers fit in the salary cap.
It almost worked, too. The Chiefs made it back to the big game before injuries along the offensive line, mental mistakes and a near-perfect performance by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended their season one win short of a repeat.
Now, the Chiefs will have to take a much different tact if they want to make their third consecutive Super Bowl.
While their core group is signed for the next several years, the Chiefs have a raft of important contributors that are due to hit free agency. That includes wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson and four of the five offensive linemen that started in the Super Bowl. As well as the defense, including eight players that were regulars or starters this past season.
“Like all teams, we'll get busy here going down the road,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday. “We'll still have a good core of players coming back. We'll have some additions. No team stays in the same in today's NFL.”
It was clear in a 31-9 romp by the Buccaneers that the status quo probably wouldn't work anyway.
The Chiefs managed to hide their many shortcomings while winning a franchise-record 14 regular-season games and then beating Cleveland and Buffalo in the playoffs. But those issues were on stark display Sunday night: a makeshift offensive line pounded by the Tampa Bay pass rush, their own pass rush never getting pressure on Tom Brady, their secondary struggling against the Bucs wide receivers and their linebackers constantly out of position or slow to make plays.
“Every year is different because of your cap situation and what you have and what you need,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “We always have a couple different road maps to get where we want to be. We'll have some tough decisions to make trying to keep as many players on this team intact. Every year is different. Every year is unique.”