NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began at 4 p.m. ET on March 15, which means free agent signings can now be made official. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.
The Kansas City Chiefs made two key moves ahead of the start of free agency: declining to place the franchise tag on left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who played under the tag in 2022 and seemed likely to be tagged again, and deciding to release pass-rusher Frank Clark.
The Chiefs had worked with Clark's agent on a reworked deal during the NFL combine, but the two sides did not reach an agreement, sources told ESPN. The team now plans to release Clark, who is third all-time in postseason sacks.
Brown would have cost the Chiefs around $20 million playing under the tag, while Clark would have accounted for another $21 million against the cap. How will the Chiefs spend the extra $41 million heading into the 2023 season?
Here's a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free agent signing by the Chiefs, and how each will impact the upcoming season:
Derrick Nnadi, defensive tackle
The Chiefs are re-signing defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, sources told ESPN on March 21.
What it means: After losing Khalen Saunders in free agency, the Chiefs were getting thin outside of Chris Jones in the middle of their defensive line, so Nnadi fills a need. Nnadi is someone the Chiefs have come to count on. He's missed just one game in his five NFL seasons because of injury.
What's the risk: The Chiefs know exactly what they are getting from Nnadi, so the risk is minimal. He has played all of his five NFL seasons with the Chiefs. Nnadi is more of a run defender than a pass-rusher and he comes off the field in many third-down situations, so the Chiefs need to work around that when constructing their defensive line rotation.
Drue Tranquill, linebacker
The Chiefs have signed former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill to a one-year deal, a source confirmed to ESPN on March 17. He entered the day at No. 9 on Matt Bowen's best remaining free agents.
What it means: The Chiefs have done extensive work through the draft at linebacker over the past three years, picking Willie Gay and Nick Bolton in the second round, and Leo Chenal in the third. Tranquil gives the Chiefs another experienced option. Tranquill's 95 tackles in 2022 were a career high.
What's the risk: The Chiefs have three linebackers under contract who have logged a lot of playing time for a Super Bowl championship team, so Tranquil's role needs to be defined. Tranquil was a part-time starter for the Chargers until last year, when he broke into the lineup full-time.
Byron Cowart, defensive tackle
The Chiefs are signing former Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Byron Cowart, a source confirmed to ESPN.
What it means: The Chiefs get some depth for the middle of their defensive line. They lost Khalen Saunders in free agency and Tershawn Wharton will be coming off a knee injury when he returns, so the Chiefs needed the depth that Cowart provides.
What's the risk: Minimal. Cowart will need to earn a spot on the regular season roster in training camp. His signing doesn't prohibit the Chiefs from adding at the position later in free agency or through the draft.
Blake Bell, tight end
The Chiefs are re-signing tight end Blake Bell, a source confirmed to ESPN.
What it means: The Chiefs will bring back their top four tight ends from last season, including Travis Kelce, Jody Fortson and Noah Gray. Bell missed most of last season with a hip flexor injury, but returned late in the season. He was inactive for the Chiefs' Super Bowl LVII win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
What's the risk: The Chiefs have three other veteran tight ends and may wind up drafting one as well. The Chiefs have plenty of depth at the position even if it doesn't work out with Bell. Still, the Chiefs know what they're getting from Bell, who has played three seasons in Kansas City.
Mike Edwards, safety
The Chiefs have signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards to a one-year deal, a source confirmed to ESPN on March 17.
What it means: The Chiefs drafted Bryan Cook last year to eventually join Justin Reid as a starting safety and Cook may well wind up in the lineup this year after starting safety Juan Thornhill signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent. But Edwards gives the Chiefs a veteran presence who could wind up playing a lot as a nickel safety, even if Cook starts.
What's the risk: Thornhill was a useful player and the Chiefs would have retained him in a perfect world. But they had choices to make in free agency and there's no guarantee Cook or Edwards will prove to be as productive. That's where Edwards comes in.
Jawaan Taylor, offensive tackle
The Chiefs have reached an agreement with former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor on a four-year, $80 million deal, sources told ESPN on March 13.
What it means: The Chiefs have a new starting left tackle to replace Brown, who played two seasons for the Chiefs, the last as their franchise player. But the sides couldn't agree on a long-term contract and the Chiefs opted not to tag Brown again, leaving them with a big need. Taylor has been almost exclusively a right tackle for the Jaguars, so he will have to make the switch to the other side of the line. The Chiefs also need a new starting right tackle after losing Andrew Wylie in free agency to the Washington Commanders, but have an available replacement in backup Lucas Niang.
What's the risk: Taylor played only 17 snaps in his four seasons with the Jaguars as a left tackle, so he has a new side of the line to learn. Some players struggle with such a switch. The Chiefs successfully made the same move with Brown after they acquired him in a 2021 trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Taylor is just 25, so he should be heading into the prime of his career.
Charles Omenihu, defensive lineman
The Chiefs are signing former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Charles Omenihu to a two-year, $16 million deal, a source told ESPN on March 16.
What it means: Frank Clark was recently released and Carlos Dunlap is an unrestricted free agent, so the Chiefs needed some help at defensive end. Omenihu gives the Chiefs another accomplished player to add to the mix along with George Karlaftis, who had 6 sacks last season as a rookie, and Mike Danna, who had the best season of his three-year NFL career with 5 sacks. Omenihu is only 25, so he should be heading into the prime of his career.
What's the risk: Omenihu has started just 10 games in his four NFL seasons with the Houston Texans and 49ers, so the Chiefs are taking a gamble by projecting him into a bigger role. The Chiefs could still use a trusted veteran on the edge, even after adding Omenihu.
Nick Allegretti, guard
The Chiefs have re-signed guard Nick Allegretti to a one-year deal, sources told ESPN on March 17.
What it means: The Chiefs have retained a player who has been a solid backup in the middle of their offensive line for several seasons. Allegretti has played mostly at guard, but can also fill in at center.
What's the risk: Not much. The Chiefs know Allegretti well, so they know exactly the type of player they're getting on a short-term deal.