Mar 16, 2023

Chiefs announce signings of OT Taylor, DE Omenihu to deals

Posted Mar 16, 2023 9:16 PM

AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs wasted little time filling two enormous holes on their Super Bowl-winning roster.

After reaching agreements earlier in the week, the Chiefs announced the signings Thursday of offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor and defensive end Charles Omenihu. Taylor is expected to replace Orlando Brown Jr., who agreed to a deal elsewhere in free agency, and Omenihu is expected to help replace Frank Clark, who was released in a move to create salary cap space.

"There was a good amount of teams involved," Taylor said, "but once free agency opened up, my agent told me about the possibility of the Chiefs wanting me. It's a great opportunity and I couldn't pass it up."

The 25-year-old Taylor, who played almost exclusively right tackle in Jacksonville but will likely move to the left side in Kansas City, agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal with $60 million guaranteed, a person familiar with the terms told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not disclosed.

Omenihu, who is also 25, signed a two-year, $16 million deal, a person with knowledge of the deal also told the AP.

The Chiefs were tight on salary cap space after the season — a big reason they released Clark and were unable to sign wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who instead agreed to a deal with New England. But they were able to free up some extra space on Wednesday night when they converted part of quarterback Patrick Mahomes' $34.4 million roster bonus into a signing bonus spread over the next four years, which freed up nearly $10 million in space for the current offseason.

Mahomes will hope that Taylor can continue the breakthrough he began to experience last season.

The second-round pick of the Jaguars in the 2019 draft gave up a league-leading 40 sacks his first three seasons. But Taylor only allowed six sacks while protecting Trevor Lawrence last season, which ended with a divisional-round loss to Kansas City, and produced one of the lowest pressure rates among offensive tackles in the league.

It's not guaranteed that Taylor will end up at right tackle, though that's the expectation. The Chiefs also have a hole on the right side after Andrew Wylie joined Washington, but that position is typically easier — and cheaper — to fill. The Chiefs have an in-house candidate with Lucas Niang and could also address that need through next month's draft.

"Left tackle, right tackle, it's just a flip of the hips, honestly," Taylor said. "If you're athletic enough, trust your feet, have good coaching and I think they have that here, I think the transition will be pretty good."

Omenihu was a fifth-round pick of the Texans in 2019 but was traded after two-plus seasons of mediocre production to San Francisco in November 2021. He proceed to have a career-best 4 1/2 sacks for the 49ers last season.

"I think I'm a guy that can play the run on first and second down, play over tight ends, and I can rush on the edge if you need me to," Omenihu said. "I think versatiltiy is what I bring to the table, a guy that's going to play hard."

Omenihu arrives in Kansas City amid some off-the-field trouble. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in January, though no charges have been filed, after his girlfriend accused him of pushing her to the ground.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has been a whiz when it comes to plugging holes through the draft, and while their first pick isn't until No. 31 overall, they have 11 total to further address defensive end, offensive tackle and wide receiver.

Last year, the Chiefs used one of their first-round picks on George Karlaftis, and he blossomed into a game-changing pass rusher who totaled six sacks. The previous year, they used a second-round pick on Creed Humphrey and a sixth-rounder on guard Trey Smith, both of whom have joined Joe Thuney in forming a dominant interior offensive line.

"You always try to stick to just the best player," Veach said, "because it's a game of attrition. You can sit there and think that you're deep at a position — I remember a few years ago we thought we were really deep at defensive line and within the first three or four weeks we lost three of them. So, you always want to make sure you take the best player."