Sunday, December 10

Charvarius Ward’s departure leaves Chiefs thinner at cornerback

Most of Chiefs Kingdom knew that cornerback Charvarius Ward was a likely candidate to leave in free agency. Still, it’s tough to see the Kansas City Chiefs lose a top cornerback after hoping there could be some way in which the young pass defender could return to the fold.

Over the last four years, Ward has been a steadily improving player, one who was a gift from the Dallas Cowboys in the first place in what might be the best trade in general manager Brett Veach’s tenure with the Chiefs so far. After trading oft-injured offensive lineman Parker Ehinger in a preseason swap to Dallas for Ward back in 2018, Ward has climbed the ranks to become the Chiefs most reliable cornerback.

Ward’s ascent in playing time is a testament to his hard work and natural talent—as well as the Chiefs’ coaching staff. In a few years in KC, Ward went from being a rookie free agent from Middle Tennessee State to having a sticky confidence at the next level to shut down some of the best opposing wideouts in football.

The Kansas City Chiefs are much thinner at cornerback with the news that Charvarius Ward left for the San Francisco 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers loved his potential so much that they gave him up to $42 million over the next three years, including nearly $27 million of it guaranteed.

There’s a reason the Niners wanted to get this deal done early in free agency: Ward is perfect for what they want to do. The 49ers suffered a tremendous amount of injuries in the secondary last year and lacked a reliable defender on the boundary. The 49ers will love how physical Ward can be as a disruptor off the line, and while Ward needs help over the top, the hope is that San Francisco’s front line can get after the passer fast enough that Ward doesn’t need to do his job for that long.

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The Chiefs know this well and Ward still did a tremendous job last season even as the team’s pass rush didn’t make it that much easier. It’s amazing, really, that Ward could shine like he did when given less help that he should have had up front from the Chiefs.

Now on the other side of it all, the Chiefs are left with only two real options at cornerback for a team that likes to deploy 3-4 on the field for a majority of the snaps. L’Jarius Sneed is a godsend on the field and Rashad Fenton has been a great development in his growth last season. Beyond that, however, the Chiefs have now lost starters in Bashaud Breeland and now Ward in free agency in successive offseasons and will need to make an investment at some point beyond the random one-year player grab.

The Chiefs did tend to offer Deandre Baker to return but they lose Mike Hughes as well. And let’s be honest: the Chiefs have never looked all that enthused about Baker’s potential given that he’s sat as an inactive player or on the practice squad even when the need was there for better play in the secondary.

As Fenton enters his own contract year, don’t be surprised to see the Chiefs make an investment or even two at cornerback in this coming draft class. In addition at least one veteran also has to find his way to KC in order to help provide some depth for the ’22 season.

If the overall position group sounds thin at this stage, it is. Ward’s exit is a great story for him, but it leaves the Chiefs in the lurch with a real need to fill. Replacing Ward will not be easy.

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