Drue Tranquill was part of an impressive inside linebacker free agent class, but he was only able to land a one-year contract on the open market. It came from the Chiefs, making his move an intra-divisional one after he began his career with the Chargers.
When speaking about his first foray into free agency, the 27-year-old reflected on his time in Los Angeles and the failure of talks for a new deal to materialize. That led him to head elsewhere, with Kansas City representing an appealing destination given their recent Super Bowl successes. The prospect of joining the defending champions was aided by the personal push made by their head coach.
“I poured my heart out there for four years in L.A. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out,” Tranquill said during an appearance on NFL Total Access (h/t Kevin Patra of NFL.com). “I was really honored by the way the Chiefs pursued me, all the way from the front office down to the coaching staff. Andy Reid literally texted me the morning of [when] I was going to make my decision… I just felt really valued over there, felt like they really had a role for me and really wanted me over there.”
The Notre Dame product served in a rotational capacity for his first three seasons, but he thrived as a starter in 2022. Tranquill racked up 146 tackles, five sacks and four pass breakups, the latter figure demonstrating his strength dropping back into coverage. In his absence, the Chargers will have free agent addition Eric Kendricks and third-round rookie Daiyan Henley in place alongside 2020 first-rounder Kenneth Murray at the linebacker position.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, still have 2022 starters Willie Gay and Nick Bolton on their rookie contracts. The pair were productive last season, combining to make 300 tackles between the regular and postseason. Despite having 2022 third-rounder Leo Chenal (who contributed both on defense and special teams) in the fold as well, Kansas City elected to bring in Tranquill on a $3MM pact. It will be interesting to see how the latter fits into Steve Spagnuolo‘s defense given the unit’s incumbent members.
Tranquill’s remarks illustrate how widespread support for signing him was throughout the Chiefs organization, though, so he will likely enter the 2023 season with a signficant workload and high expectations. A repeat of his success from last season could lead his new team to another title, while boosting his free agent value in the process.