The Chiefs made their first impact offseason signing on the defensive side. How does Omenihu fit, and what does it mean for KC moving forward?
The NFL’s free agency period is still relatively young, but some teams already look different from the year before. That includes the Kansas City Chiefs, who made two significant moves before the start of the new league year to fill big offseason needs. The first move was Jawaan Taylor, who has been rumored to have the chance to switch from right tackle to left tackle in Kansas City. While Taylor’s exact role hasn’t been pinned down, the Chiefs’ second signing has a more straightforward plan of use. The second move was the addition of defensive lineman Charles Omenihu.
Omenihu agreed to a two-year deal worth up to $20 million. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Houston Texan and after two and a half years in Houston, he was moved at the 2021 trade deadline. Though the Chiefs were interested in him then, the San Francisco 49ers gained his services and helped him blossom into the player he is. Now, general manager Brett Veach finally got a player he coveted at an ideal time in his career from an on-field perspective.
It would be remiss not to mention what occurred in January with Omenihu prior to the NFC Championship Game. He was arrested in San Jose, CA, after his girlfriend put in a call causing suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence. The local district attorney’s office is still gathering information before deciding whether to file official charges. The Chiefs signing Omenihu likely means that they have done their due diligence and feel comfortable with where the situation is at.
Going back to Omenihu on the field, he had a career-high 4.5 sacks last year as part of the loaded San Francisco defensive line. His numbers only get better the deeper you dive, too. According to Pro Football Focus, Omenihu ranked in the top 30 in pressures last year with 54. He also had the sixth-best pass rush win rate in 2022, behind five Pro Bowlers. That’s extremely promising for the Chiefs to get for less than double-digit millions per year. As a 25-year-old pass rusher, Omenihu has a chance to continue to build and grow in Kansas City.
Omenihu is possibly the most ‘Spags EDGE’ ever. He has the size and length that Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo covets at the position to an extreme level. Right now, Omenihu projects into a rotational pass-rushing role, primarily on the outside of the defensive line, in a group with other young players: George Karlaftis and Mike Danna. He also can kick inside with his versatility, which is another plus in Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Joe Cullen’s books. Last year, the addition of Cullen led to multiple players having career years. Omenihu has the explosion, power and handwork foundation that Cullen can continue to maximize and help him reach his potential.
Adding Omenihu makes a ton of sense for the Chiefs. He checks almost every on-field box the team has for their secondary pass rushers. In Kansas City, similar to when he was in San Fransisco, Omenihu won’t be the main focus of the opposing offense. Instead, Chris Jones will get the most attention and be doubled, allowing Omenihu to be one-on-one. Especially when he’s kicked inside, he will have an excellent opportunity to win against favorable matchups. His pass-rushing prowess will also be on display often because one would think the Chiefs will be leading in games, forcing their opponent to play catch-up.
The Omenihu signing also gives the Chiefs more flexibility this offseason. Coming into the offseason, they needed to address offensive tackle, defensive end and wide receiver. Though they haven’t made a move at wide receiver as of the publishing of this article, the assumption is that will happen sometime before the 2023 NFL Draft.
If that’s the case, the Chiefs aren’t pigeonholed into taking a specific position in the first round, which may have been the case less than a week ago. They can now move up if someone they like falls down the board. Also, they can take their true favorite player from one of those positions if they stay that 31. Veach and his team still need to add to those groups, but they now have the ability to go in many different directions and choose the one they believe is best for the team’s future.