3 moves the Kansas City Chiefs need to make to get back to the Super Bowl

The Kansas City Chiefs failed to win their third straight Super Bowl appearance, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.

Kansas City found themselves up 21-3 late in the second quarter before Cincinnati tied the game record for the conference title by overcoming an 18-point deficit.

A Patrick Mahomes interception in overtime led directly to the Bengals scoring a field goal and taking the lead. After posting a 12-5 regular season record and winning 11 of 12 heading into the AFC Championship Game, these Chiefs are back to the drawing board.

Below, we look at three moves this team needs to make to return to Super Bowl favorite status.

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Kansas City Chiefs add another wide receiver

January 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (17) and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (right) speak after the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

We know what Tyreek Hill brings to the table. He can go the distance on any given game. This was evident throughout Kansas City’s playoff run. Fellow receiver Mecole Hardman also played a big role during the playoffs. However, it seems that something is missing. It’s a constant threat behind Hill. Hardman rushed for less than 30 yards nine times last season, playoffs included.

Whether through free agency, the trade block or the NFL Draft, expect the Chiefs to go in search of a No. 2 wide receiver. The team was tied to JuJu Smith-Schuster before he re-signed with Pittsburgh last offseason. The former 1,000-yard receiver is now pushing to rejoin Kansas City. It could be the most profitable option for a Chiefs team that’s currently estimated to be $15.4 million under the NFL’s salary cap in 2022.

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Kansas City Chiefs draft cornerback

kansas city heads project ahmad gardner
December 4, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Ahmad Gardner (1) celebrates after a sack by Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (not pictured) in the second quarter during the American Athletic Conference championship game at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar/The Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

The Chiefs’ pass defense has proven solid in the latter stages of the regular season. However, there are widespread issues for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Josh Allen and Joe Burrow combine to throw for 579 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in the Chiefs’ last two playoff games.

It’s a zone general manager Brett Veach should address. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to find quality talent with the limited financial resources Kansas City will have during NFL free agency. Now slated to pick 30th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, that must be a goal. Ahmad Gardner (Cincinnati), Derion Kendrick (Georgia) and Martin Emerson (Mississippi State) could all be options.

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Kansas City Chiefs re-sign Orlando Brown Jr.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles
October 3, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

One of the reasons Kansas City won a third straight trip to the AFC Championship Game was its decision to revamp a dodgy offensive line ahead of Mahomes. Acquiring Brown in a blockbuster trade from the Baltimore Ravens while selecting two starting linemen in Trey Smith and Creed Humphrey was absolutely massive.

Now Kansas City must pony up to retain Brown Jr. before he reaches free agency in March. At only 25 years old, he has just played his third consecutive participation in the Pro Bowl.

It’s all about finances here. Brown will want to become the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL after playing at a high level in that role for the past two seasons. Remember, he was originally a right tackle in Baltimore before taking over as blindside protector for Lamar Jackson. If Brown gets fair market value, he’s looking at $23 million a year. A franchise tag would end up costing the Kansas City Chiefs around $21 million. Can the team afford it?

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