Assessing Brett Veach’s five years as Chiefs GM

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has been in his role with the franchise for five years now. It’s been a crazy five years with some tough times and a lot of success. The success the Chiefs have enjoyed since 2017 doesn’t compare to any five-year span in Chiefs history.

Veach replaced John Dorsey, who found good talent in the 2013-17 draft. However, the Chiefs needed someone to do more than just find talent.

Contract extensions offered by Dorsey to get past rusher Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry hurt this team more than they helped. The former Chiefs general manager waited to hand out those extensions, and after Houston and Berry had stellar seasons in 2014 and 2016, respectively, it gave the players all the leverage in contract negotiations.

The Kansas City Chiefs named Brett Veach the seventh general manager in franchise history five years ago today, replacing John Dorsey.

Shortly after enjoying the best season of his career, Houston landed a six-year, $101 million contract, the Biggest contract in Chiefs history at the time. Meanwhile, Berry’s $71 million over six years made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL. The Chiefs also signed a five-year, $41 million deal to keep Laurent Duvernay-Tardif while extending Berry. These contracts have put the Chiefs in a very difficult salary cap situation, making it difficult to recruit key veterans through free agency.

A month into his tenure as general manager, Veach traded linebacker Reggie Ragland in August 2017. The following offseason, Veach signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins in free agency and linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Hitchens and Ragland fell short of expectations, and although Watkins dealt with injuries, he still helped the offense during his time with the team, especially in the playoffs.

The 2019 offseason is where Veach started to become more active as a general manager. Needing some defensive finishing on the transition to a 4-3 defense, Veach signed Alex Okafor and traded for Emmanuel Ogbah. The week of the 2019 NFL Draft, Veach acquired defensive end Frank Clark and a third-round pick from Seattle in exchange for a first- and third-round pick and a second-round pick the following year. Although he missed a five-year/$105.5 million contract, which was restructured twice, Clark thrived in both playoff series where the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl.

Veach also found secondary help in signing cornerback Bashaud Breeland after missing an opportunity to sign him the previous offseason. While advancing with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Veach traded quarterback Alex Smith to Washington Commanders for a third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller.

Perhaps the biggest free agent signing under Veach, and one of the best in Chiefs history, was when the team brought in Tyrann Mathieu, who was a first-team All-Pro in his first year with the Chiefs in 2019. Although his time in Kansas City was brief, Mathieu was an All-Pro and/or Pro Bowler during his three-year stint with the Chiefs.

Veach’s first two drafts in 2018 and 2019 weren’t the best. Of the six picks in 2018, only defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi remains with the team. The 2019 draft class got off to a good start with wide receiver Mecole Hardman making the Pro Bowl as return specialist and safety Juan Thornhill playing long before his injury in Week 17. Since then, Hardman and Thornhill have been inconsistent, but are still a part of the squad, both entering the final year of their rookie deals for 2022.

Despite the slow start, Veach started making moves during the 2019 season that impressed many Chiefs fans. Midway through the season, Veach signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel, guard Stefen Wisniewski, and defensive end Terrell Suggs. Pennel, Wisniewski and Suggs were solid contributors in helping Kansas City succeed and ultimately win the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 50 years.

Even though the Chiefs won the Lamar Hunt and Vince Lombardi trophies, there was little time to celebrate. Veach had to work on Kansas City’s cap space. In March 2020, the Chiefs had exactly $177 in cap space.

But after restructuring several deals, the Chiefs were able to go from $177 in cap space to extending defensive tackle Chris Jones and Mahomes. in the same off-season. Two years later, Veach traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill. While not a popular decision, it was one that made sense financially for the Chiefs.

Veach hit a home run with the 2021 draft class and walked away with center Creed Humphrey, guard Trey Smith and linebacker Nick Bolton. Humphrey and Smith made all rookie lists while Bolton was omitted from a few of those lists by the media. The most impressive part of this draft class is that Veach didn’t have a first-round pick. Instead, he traded him for tackle Orlando Brown.

Fans inside and outside of Kansas City are expecting another successful exit from Kansas City’s 2022 draft class after Veach walked away with five players in the first three rounds and 10 draft picks in the total.

Veach has made a few mistakes in the past. The trades for Clark and Brown haven’t been the best so far. In fact, Veach currently faces a big challenge this week with the looming deadline to sign players to the franchise label, which the Chiefs placed on Brown earlier this offseason. The Chiefs GM has been very active in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. His additions during the 2020 season, such as the return of Wisniewski and the signing of running back Le’Veon Bell, did not help the team, he still worth noting that Veach was taking steps to do what it took to help the Chiefs get back to the Super. Bowl this season.

Under Veach, the Chiefs appeared in four AFC Championship games and two Super Bowls with a ring to speak of. Yes, Dorsey deserves some credit because he was responsible for some of the players who helped the Chiefs play in those Super Bowls and conference title games. However, Veach’s leadership put the Chiefs in a better position.

Since Veach was named chiefs general manager five years ago, the Chiefs have won 60 regular season games and eight postseason games, the most of any NFL team during that span.

Part of Veach’s slow start was having to deal with limitations due to bad contracts being handed out by Dorsey. Veach was able to pull the Chiefs out of that hole and did a better job in the second half of his five years as general manager. If Veach continues on this trajectory, the next five years should bring even more success to the Kansas City Chiefs.