Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach did a tremendous job during the 2022 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs put together an incredible draft class thanks to Veach and his staff. According to Pro Football Focus, Kansas City landed the No. 10, No. 11, and No. 22 overall players in the draft with the No. 21, No. 30, and No. 54 picks.

Incredible value.

But a good draft class doesn’t absolve Veach from criticism.

Earlier this offseason, the Chiefs declined to re-sign safety Tyrann Mathieu — the leader of Kansas City’s defense.

Jan 19, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) and strong safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) celebrate with the Lamar Hunt Trophy after beating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Instead of bringing the Honey Badger back, the Chiefs signed safety Justin Reid to a three-year deal worth $31.5 million.

The feeling was that Kansas City decided against bringing Mathieu back because they wanted to save cap space for contract extensions for offensive lineman Orlando Brown and wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

Hill, however, was traded to the Miami Dolphins not long after the team signed Reid.

When the Chiefs traded Hill — and subsequently freed up a significant amount of salary cap space — I immediately thought about Mathieu and how the team could’ve easily re-signed him.

On Monday, that thought crept back into my mind after news broke that Mathieu signed a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints worth $33 million.

Mathieu essentially signed with the Saints for the same deal that Reid signed with the Chiefs.

Kansas City absolutely could’ve (and should’ve) brought Mathieu back. What he brings to the field in terms of leadership (and versatility) can’t be measured by stats. He was an extremely important part of the Chiefs’ defense. Reid is a good player, but he’s not Mathieu.

This was a colossal misstep by Veach and Kansas City’s front office. The Chiefs should still be the favorites in the AFC West — despite losing Hill and Mathieu and replacing them with lesser talents — but it has to be disappointing for fans to know that a key player could’ve returned to the team (and he wanted to return) if not for Veach’s mistake.

No general manager is perfect. And while Veach is great at his job, this is one decision that deserves to be second-guessed.

Featured image via Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports