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Underrated Offseason Signings Drue Tranquill, Mike Edwards Are Shining for KC Chiefs

The Chiefs signed Drue Tranquill and Mike Edwards for cheap this offseason, and their play so far has shown why they've been extremely smart investments.

Every year, the NFL's new calendar year kicks off with the opening of free agency. Most focus on the big fish available to see where they land and how they will affect the league's landscape. Those names are great to land because they may be significant needle-movers for a franchise. However, improving around the margins with undervalued players is just as essential but will never get the attention it deserves. That's exactly what the Kansas City Chiefs did this offseason by adding Drue Tranquill and Mike Edwards to Steve Spagnuolo's defense.

Tranquill had been a thorn in the Chiefs' side for years before coming to Kansas City. With the division rival Los Angeles Chargers, he was a starter and a difference-maker for their defense. It is well-documented that the front office in Kansas City couldn't believe how he got out of that building, especially at the price tag he did. His play through four weeks of the season has already proven that sentiment correct.

Tranquill has undoubtedly been the Chiefs' best linebacker so far this season and their biggest playmaker on that level of the defense. Pro Football Focus has a statistic called "defensive stops," which they defined as "tackles that constitute a 'failure' for the offense." Tranquill leads Kansas City in defensive stops with 12, and he's racked that up on only 143 defensive snaps. Of players with 12 or more defensive stops across the NFL, Tranquill has the lowest number of snaps played. Furthermore, players with more stops than the Chiefs linebacker have at least 48 more snaps played than him, with most having in the high 200s.

The difference when Tranquill is on the field is noticeable. His athleticism and coverage ability have helped the defense jump into the top of the league conversation. He can do everything Spagnuolo asks of him and is a disruptor on the field. On top of creating negative plays, it's plays like the one he made against the Bears that stand out. Justin Fields breaks the pockets and scrambles. It looks like it's about to be a considerable gain, but Tranquill is able to read and react to make the tackle, saving a potential touchdown. That was just one of many special plays from a guy the Chiefs stole back in March.

Similarly, Kansas City's signing of Edwards has paid huge dividends through four weeks. Sure, he's not a starter, but he's made plays when he's been on the field. Throughout his career in Tampa Bay, Edwards had a knack for being around the football. He was responsible for 10 turnovers in his four years as a Buccaneer. In his first season with the Chiefs, he has the only interception for the defense this season.

Last week, on the road against the New York Jets, Edwards put together a stellar performance. He had a sack, a pass breakup and a huge third-down stop when the Chiefs were reeling a bit. The pass breakup showed the former Buccaneer's nose for the football. He could easily read the play because cornerback L'Jarius Sneed did not allow his man to get off the line. When he saw the route from the other side of the field come across his face, he broke downhill and broke up a pass that would have gained a first down.

Having a veteran who has embraced the third safety role is also invaluable. Throughout his career, Edwards has always been best suited as the third safety to play in nickel and dime packages primarily. However, sometimes it's hard for players to embrace that role. Edwards has done that and more, showing outstanding leadership and mentorship for second-year player Bryan Cook. The second-year safety made a touchdown-saving tackle on Sunday that largely got forgotten because of everything else that went on. Edwards, though, pointed out how important that play was during his Wednesday press conference.

Tranquill and Edwards have shown their value through four weeks of the season. As they get further integrated into the defensive system, the hope is they take their games to another level. Getting this type of production from two guys available to the entire league is excellent business from the Chiefs. The deals on the margins like these can determine the outcomes of games and championships. Kansas City has found two undervalued playmakers to help them push for another Super Bowl.

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