Roster turnover in the NFL happens quickly.
This is true even for a team like the Kansas City Chiefs, who spent their offseason extending their core players. Even with those long-term deals handed out, only 12 Chiefs players are currently under contract for the 2023 season. Those 12 players include three players who signed extensions this offseason (Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones) along with the 2020 rookie class.
It has also now been three years since Brett Veach was promoted to be the general manager of the Chiefs, and in those three years, he has largely rebuilt the team's roster.
Going into the 2020 season, the Chiefs have just nine players who were not signed or drafted by Veach:
- Patrick Mahomes, 2017 draft pick.
- Chris Jones, 2016 draft pick.
- Travis Kelce, 2013 draft pick.
- Anthony Sherman, acquired via trade in 2013.
- Eric Fisher, 2013 draft pick.
- Mitchell Schwartz, 2016 free agent signing.
- Tyreek Hill, 2016 draft pick.
- Tanoh Kpassgnon, 2017 draft pick.
- Daniel Sorensen, signed as UDFA in 2014.
Nine players from a 53-man roster, on a Super Bowl-winning team who retained the grand majority of their championship roster.
The most notable thing about the players that remain is that only three are defenders. Since becoming the Chiefs' general manager in 2017 (and especially after Bob Sutton’s firing after the 2018 season), Veach has worked quickly to remake the defense and move on from players and contracts given out by former general manager John Dorsey. Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson were all cut, among others, from the defense during the 2017 and 2018 offseasons.
The 2020 season feels like the first year where the Chiefs are fully Veach’s Chiefs. For all his faults, Dorsey was a good evaluator and left the Chiefs with plenty of talent when he was fired. Veach built on that to get the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, and for that, he should be commended. However, Veach is still relatively new as the Chiefs' GM, and we don't know what he'll look like long-term as the Chiefs general manager.
The one thing that should give people pause is that the offense's core players are still built from Dorsey’s drafts. Mahomes (though Veach did push to draft him hard at the time), Kelce, Hill, Fisher, and Schwartz are possibly the five most important players on offense for the Chiefs and all came from Dorsey's years. It remains to be seen how Veach will do when tasked to find offensive skill players, though judgment on this subject can be passed shortly with wide receiver Mecole Hardman in his second year and with the drafting of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
What is encouraging about Veach’s track record so far is that the Chiefs' defense has looked good since he started to rebuild it just two offseasons ago. Veach has not only acquired great elite talent in Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark, but he has also found great starters all over the defense like Charvarius Ward, Juan Thornhill, Derrick Nnadi, and Bashaud Breeland. Drafting and free-agent acquisitions on defense have generally all been positive other than the less-than-ideal situation at linebacker with Anthony Hitchens possibly being Veach’s worst move so far as the Chiefs general manager. Improving the defense from the travesty it was in 2018 to a solid unit just a year later is a commendable effort that deserves praise.
How Brett Veach will build the roster and value certain positions going forward is hard to say. He hasn’t valued cornerback yet, for instance, but it’s difficult to determine if this is a short-term strategy or a long-term one. The way Brett Veach will build the Chiefs going forward will have a huge impact on how Mahomes’ prime will be shaped. The thing to remember is that now the roster is fully Brett Veach’s, and the success of the Chiefs now relies on Veach. He is the one in the driver seat when it comes to roster construction now and any mistakes he makes will affect the team going forward. Whether the prime years of Mahomes are utilized to the fullest extent relies on him executing at a high level. If we were to determine if he can do this using his track record until now, then I’d say it’s a good bet that he can make sure that Mahomes will have a great career.