The Chiefs will see plenty of Donald Stephenson in the future ... albeit in a different uniform.
Stephenson, a Kansas City native and graduate of Blue Springs High School, is planning to sign with the AFC West-rival Denver Broncos when free agency begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday, a source told The Star.
The 27-year-old offensive lineman has played plenty of football for the Chiefs since he was selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has started 21 games in four years, including seven in 2015, and has shown plenty of versatility along the way, earning snaps at left tackle, right tackle and even left guard.
But after the season, Stephenson spoke candidly about his questionable future here and seemed at peace with the first phase of his career in his hometown, if it were to come to an end.
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The move will bring to a close Stephenson’s career in Kansas City, where he was penciled in as the starting right tackle in 2014 until being suspended for four games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in August.
Stephenson bounced back in 2015, though. He was deemed talented enough to earn the starting nod at left tackle, replacing Eric Fisher to open the season. Stephenson lasted six games there until an ankle injury slowed him down. He eventually yielded the starting spot back to Fisher.
Both Fisher — who made some promising growth in 2015 — and starting right tackle Jah Reid are under contract for 2016, which means Stephenson would likely have been competing for a swing-tackle role with the Chiefs.
His situation in Denver would be more attractive. Their starter at left tackle in 2015, Ryan Harris, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent, while their incumbent starer there, Ryan Clady, is coming off an ACL tear and could restructure his contract. The starter at right tackle is 2014 third-round pick Michael Schofield, who has logged nearly 1,000 snaps but struggled at times.
Stephenson is the latest offensive lineman the Chiefs’ current regime has inherited and allowed to walk in free agency since 2013. That list includes center Rodney Hudson, guard Jon Asamoah, tackle Branden Albert and possibly guard Jeff Allen.