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Brett Veach Is the King of Rebuilding Position Groups

The Chiefs' offseason is just another example of Veach's process at work.

When there's a problem with the Kansas City Chiefs' roster, general manager Brett Veach has shown that he'll go above and beyond to solve it.

Veach preferred a more case-by-case approach in his early years. The 2018 offseason didn't see major position-wide changes across the board, but rather key signings here and there. The following offseason featured more of the same, as Veach traded for defensive end Frank Clark and signed safety Tyrann Mathieu from the free agent market. 2020's 'Run it Back' campaign featured more re-signings than noticeable changes.

Once the spring of 2021 rolled around, though, the sweeping overcorrections came into play. 

Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Following Kansas City's embarrassing Super Bowl LV loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Veach saw a position group that was in desperate need of a rebuild: the offensive line. He immediately went to work, cutting bookend tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz and making a huge free agency splash on guard Joe Thuney. 

Veach's work wasn't done there. Just before the 2021 NFL Draft, he pulled off a blockbuster trade for former Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Veach selected center Creed Humphrey and guard Trey Smith in the draft, later adding depth around them to even things out. The aforementioned four new additions, along with the returning-from-opting-out Lucas Niang, formed an all-new starting five to begin the season.

Over the course of the 2021 season, it became abundantly clear that the Chiefs' receiving corps wasn't up to snuff. Behind superstar wideout Tyreek Hill, no one was separating themselves from the pack on or off the field. On the defensive side of the ball, it was well known that cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes, as well as safeties Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts, were set to hit the open market. Instead of attempting to patch up what he already had, Veach went back to the drawing board as he did the previous year. 

Mar 1, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansa City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach speaks to the media during the 2018 NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

At wide receiver, the Chiefs let Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle sign elsewhere as free agents. Veach then traded Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a boatload of draft picks, giving the team a retooling avenue while maintaining even greater flexibility under the salary cap. Via free agency, the Chiefs added slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and speedster Marquez Valdes-Scantling. In April's draft, Kansas City took Western Michigan star Skyy Moore with the No. 54 overall pick.

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At cornerback and safety, not a single name from the list above returned to the team. Ward signed a lucrative, multi-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, Hughes headed to the Detroit Lions, Watts signed with the Indianapolis Colts and both Mathieu and Sorensen are now members of New Orleans Saints. The Chiefs let all of them walk out the door and in their respective places, Veach unleashed a barrage of free agent signings and draft selections.

The Chiefs signed Justin Reid to a three-year deal to fill the void left by Mathieu. They also inked Deon Bush to a one-year deal and picked Cincinnati's Bryan Cook in the second round of the draft. Seventh-round pick Nazeeh Johnson faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but he's a potential injection of youth as well. That's just one half of the secondary.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will have his hands full working with his newly-acquired pieces at cornerback. In the draft, Veach broke his own tendency by acquiring (and trading up for) Washington's Trent McDuffie in the first round. On Day Three, he added Fayetteville State's Joshua Williams and Washington State's Jaylen Watson — both long and athletic projectable scheme fits — to insulate the group. On the Monday following the draft, he traded for Houston Texans defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr.

Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. (32) returns a blocked punt for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

That's two (and technically three) position groups that have been overhauled in the same offseason — one out of necessity due to underperformance and one due to the cupboard becoming extremely bare. All of that goes before even mentioning the fact that the Chiefs' drafting of Wisconsin's Leo Chenal makes 2022 the third year in a row that the team has spent a second- or third-round pick on a linebacker. That specific rebuild has come along over the span of a few offseasons, but it also counts.

Since Veach has proven that he's more than willing to step up to the plate and do some demolition (and, later, renovation), where does he go from here? The defensive line seems like a wise bet, as defensive end George Karlaftis was a first-round pick this year and the returning Frank Clark will almost surely have 2022 be his last year in Kansas City. The Chiefs' pass rush is going to be mostly passable if Melvin Ingram returns but beyond this year, major changes could be on the horizon.

On the interior of Spagnuolo's front, Derrick Nnadi is a free agent (again) after this campaign. Star defensive tackle Chris Jones is set to carry a cap hit of over $27 million in 2023, but with only $7M-and-change in dead money. Nothing is imminent but with Hill having a year left on his deal when he was traded, it doesn't take a major leap of faith to envision a world in which Jones could experience a similar fate. The track record, logic and foundation for such a move have been laid out.

Sep 12, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones (95) reacts during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of what pressing needs emerge between May of 2022 and March or April of 2023, the Chiefs can rest assured knowing that they have an executive who is willing to make much-needed adjustments. His tactics may be viewed as extreme at times but this offseason, Veach has cemented his status as one of the top general managers in all of football. He's managed to strike a balance between aggressive swings and calculated risks, which is great for the Chiefs and scary for the rest of the NFL.