One of the downsides of having consistent success with a great franchise is that parts of the organization will get poached by other teams. The Kansas City Chiefs have learned this the hard way several times over the years, including late last month when Brandt Tilis departed for the Carolina Panthers.
They were once in slight danger of falling victim to a similar fate with defensive line coach Joe Cullen, although things appear to be taking a turn for the better.
Before Super Bowl LVIII, a report surfaced that Cullen was "considered a candidate" for defensive coordinator jobs with the Washington Commanders, Seattle Seahawks and Michigan Wolverines. At one point, it even seemed like the veteran coordinator was tracking to depart for the college ranks. With all of those vacancies now being filled, however, Cullen is staying put. It gets even better for the Chiefs.
Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday morning, Adam Schefter of ESPN spoke about the state of Kansas City entering the offseason. In speaking about continuity on the coaching staff, he also dropped a nugget about Cullen's future. Apparently, the 56-year-old came to terms with the team on a contract extension prior to Sunday's game.
"They're not losing their coordinators," Schefter said. "Steve Spagnuolo, who won his fourth Super Bowl title as a coordinator yesterday, he's not going anywhere. Their offensive staff is returning. Here's the thing: Steve Spagnuolo's not getting a head coaching job at this point in his career. He's a great coordinator, but teams are not interested in that regard. And Matt Nagy's on the offensive side of the football — look, he struggled in Chicago and got run out, but they love him in Kansas City. They've got coaches there.
"Even their defensive line coach, Joe Cullen, was in demand by other NFL teams and college teams and very quietly last week, they get an extension done for him to make sure he doesn't leave. So they ensure continuity on their staff and the players are going to be back so, yeah, the overwhelming majority of this team is back to run it back in '24."
If this is indeed the case, what a massive development it'd be for the Chiefs. In just two seasons in Kansas City, Cullen has cemented himself as one of the best D-line coaches in the entire NFL. Under his tutelage, defensive tackle Chris Jones has had consecutive All-Pro seasons and the Chiefs' front has produced right up there with some of the best in the league. Working in conjunction with Spagnuolo, Cullen helped the team rank highly in sacks, pressures, quarterback hits and other valuable statistics this past season.
In Super Bowl LVIII, Jones and 2022 first-round pick George Karlaftis played huge roles in the victory. Additionally, veteran Mike Pennel filled in admirably for the injured Derrick Nnadi and helped play quality run defense on the inside. Assuming Schefter's report is accurate, the Chiefs can rest assured knowing there's one less thing to figure out regarding their defensive line. With Jones set to hit free agency, Cullen will be critical in continuing to develop the front four. Even if he returns, Cullen remains key.