Fanning: The Chiefs need Lilja to return


By: Brad Fanning Sports Anchor/Reporter

Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star reported that the Kansas City Chiefs have talked with offensive lineman about playing next season.

Teicher is money.  If he reports it, it’s the truth.

Lilja retired last year after spending the final three years of his career with his home town team.

I’ve said for some time now that the Chiefs have big time issues on the offensive line, and the fact that they’re contacting Lilja confirms it.

It should also confirm that no matter who they draft, it is going to be an offensive lineman.  It has to be.

The Chiefs have two centers on the roster right now.

Bryan Mattison, a converted college defensive lineman that is more of a special teams player, and Rodney Hudson.

Hudson is the guy the Chiefs project as their center of the future.  But Hudson suffered a significant leg injury last year and his future is in question.

Based on this, I think that is why the Chiefs have reached out to Lilja. He filled in and did an adequate job despite never playing center in his life.

The other reason they need Lilja is because the Chiefs don’t have a second round draft pick.  They traded that pick to the 49ers in the Alex Smith deal.

There is a very good chance that the top two centers in the draft, Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick and Alabama’s Barrett Jones, will be gone by the time the Chiefs pick 63rd (1st pick in the 3rd round).

So If the Chiefs can talk Lilja into coming back for one more year and being the “bridge” at center until Hudson fully recovers, that is a huge hole in the dam that gets plugged.

The drafting of either Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel to play right tackle with the No. 1 overall pick takes care of another.

If Jeff Allen can do the job at left guard the the Chiefs have a fighting chance.  But it all hinges on the return of Lilja.


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