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Arrowheadlines: Look for Willie Gay Jr. to shake up the depth chart immediately

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Chiefs headlines for Wednesday, July 29

NFL Combine - Day 5 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The latest

AFC rookies to watch in 2020: A.J. Epenesa and 15 others who could immediately replace veterans | CBS Sports

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

Rookie: LB Willie Gay

Veteran set to be replaced: LB Damien Wilson

A layup here, as Gay was a second-round selection despite playing in just five games in 2019. Athletically, he’s a missile on the field and fluid in coverage. He’s precisely the type of linebacker Kansas City desperately needs.

Wilson was a full-time defender for the Chiefs last season and simply doesn’t have the range or coverage smoothness to be an effective linebacker in today’s NFL. If fully healthy, Gay’s athleticism still pop instantly and make it relatively easy for the Chiefs to clear $4.5 million in cap space by releasing Wilson.

Final 10 names in ‘Top 100 Players of 2020’ unveiled | NFL.com

In alphabetical order, here are the league’s elite, the top 10 of the NFL Top 100:

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams, Defensive Tackle

Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots, Cornerback

Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans, Running Back

DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans, Wide Receiver

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens, Quarterback

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, Tight End

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers, Running Back

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs, Quarterback

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, Wide Receiver

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Quarterback

Every NFL team’s biggest question mark as training camp opens | YardBarker

Kansas City Chiefs: Repeat?

GM Brett Veach did a masterful job in the offseason bringing back Kansas City’s Super Bowl winning roster. He was able to bring back the team’s entire offense, and also extend Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones. The team is got a potential boost from first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Back-to-back championships is one of the most difficult feats in sports, but the Chiefs have all the ingredients to make it happen.

Kansas City Chiefs Contract Extension Candidates | Last Word on Pro Football

Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz

In 2022, Mahomes will see the contracts for both of his starting offensive tackles expire. Left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will hit the market at the same time should neither player sign a new deal prior to their current contract expiring. Fisher and Schwartz are two of the better tackles in the league. Fisher made the 2018 Pro Bowl and Schwartz reached All-Pro status in each of the past four seasons. But, more than likely, only one will receive a long-term extension from Kansas City.

Lucas Niang, the Kansas City Chiefs 2020 third-round draft pick, is set to be the replacement for whichever tackle does not re-sign with Kansas City. A former offensive tackle at TCU, Niang will sit and learn behind some of the game’s best before becoming a starter in a few years. That said, Schwartz has the early lead to get a big contract from the Chiefs because of his superior performance.

Chiefs players bid farewell to BJ Kissel, who is leaving as the team’s reporter | Kansas City Star

Kissell, who grew up in Stilwell and attended Blue Valley High School, announced his departure on Monday in a Twitter post.

“Representing the Chiefs over the past six years has been the professional honor of my life,” Kissel wrote. “I loved and respected the responsibility that came along with being in this position — both when I was in a working capacity but even when I was out in the community with my family. I’m proud of what I was able to help build and create within our department and the stories our players and coaches that we were able to share.”

Kissel added: “And finally, one last thank you to Chiefs Kingdom. You all supporting the work I produced over the years — from long form feature articles to videos, podcasts and livestreams — allowed me to keep this position as long as I did, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stop the Kansas City Chiefs Bandwagons in AFC | Essentially Sports

In six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, the Bucs have acquired a strong weapon heading into the 2020 season. If we add to that their already existing explosive running arsenal of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard, Tampa Bay could challenge Patrick Mahomes and Co. in a potential Super Bowl showdown this year.

The Bucs will host the Kansas City Chiefs on November 30, 2020. It will be interesting to see how both teams fare up until then in one of the most peculiar NFL seasons of all time. For the neutral crowd, a Patrick Mahomes – Tom Brady showdown is the stuff of dreams. We will be eagerly waiting for a battle between the old horse and the young prince of the NFL.

Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Positional battles to watch where ADP suggests there should be value | CBS Sports

CHIEFS NO. 2 WIDE RECEIVER

There’s no questioning the upside of the Chiefs offense, but Fantasy drafters do have questions about who will fill the third downfield receiving role behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Sammy Watkins is back, but Mecole Hardman was an incredibly efficient 21-year-old rookie last season, and he looked like a perfect fit for Patrick Mahomes and this offense.

The question is whether Hardman will earn more snaps, because in 2019 he played his biggest role early after Hill was injured in Week 1. Hardman played at least 50% of the snaps in each of his first six NFL games, but from Week 7 on, after Hill was back, Hardman crested 50% just one time in 13 more games through the playoffs — and that was another game Hill left early in Week 11.

Around the NFL

Sources: Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung to opt out of 2020 season | ESPN

Hightower’s foundation annually raises money for the American Diabetes Association, which has significant meaning to him as his mother, L’Tanya, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hightower keeps a picture of his mother at his locker.

Chung had agreed to a two-year extension with the Patriots in May that included a $2 million signing bonus and base salary of $1.1 million. While the move was made to help the team create salary-cap space, it also provided Chung with up-front cash and reflected his status as a lock to be on the roster, likely starting alongside Devin McCourty.

Chung, 32, was set to enter his 12th NFL season, 11 of which he’s spent with the Patriots. His ability to play closer to the line of scrimmage and match up with opposing tight ends provided Belichick with the flexibility he often covets.

Similar to Hightower, Chung spoke earlier this week about expecting his second child.

Why Richard Sherman believes 49ers will avoid dreaded Super Bowl hangover | NBC Sports

“I think it’s one of those things that you either got it or you don’t,” Sherman said on an Instagram Live interview with Pro Football Focus. “When I was in Seattle, the thing that made most hungry was the loss. We lost to Atlanta in 2012 in the playoffs, in a year we thought we should have won the Super Bowl. It was in the second round. We were really young then, we were second- third-year players and it pissed us off. We thought it was ridiculous that we lost. We had a great team. I think three of our last four games we scored 50-plus points. We were killing people. The next year, it was like the season couldn’t start fast enough. It couldn’t go by fast enough because everybody in our way was simply that — in our way.

“I think the same is true with this team,” Sherman said of the 49ers. “I don’t think much needs to be said. I think these guys are hungry, they are committed, it’s much different when you’re going on a Super Bowl journey and it’s everybody’s first time. They are like, ‘Man, what should we expect? Does this seem like a Super Bowl team? How does it feel?’ Now, they all know. They are all Super Bowl experienced. They’ve all been there, so they can all answer those questions. It’s not about the journey anymore, it’s about the finish.”

Chargers, Joey Bosa agree on extension; 5 years, $135M, sources say | ESPN

The Chargers and defensive end Joey Bosa reached an agreement on an extension Tuesday, with league sources telling ESPN’s Adam Schefter it’s a five-year, $135 million deal that will keep Bosa in Los Angeles for the next six seasons.

Sources said the deal includes $78 million guaranteed at signing and $102 million guaranteed, a record for a defensive player. The Chargers announced the agreement but not the terms.

Bosa’s extension also amounts to the largest contract ever awarded by the Chargers and is the first contract to reach $100 million in franchise history

Introducing ‘10 Questions With Kyle Brandt’ | The Ringer

Big [Roger Goodell] gets up there with the card, the commissioner. “With the 26th pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Jordan Love, quarterback, Utah State.” What’s your reaction?

Well, and I said this in the interview a few weeks after that, I was definitely surprised. When they drafted up—you know, I was watching the draft and thinking about which receiver might be there at that time. And I think there was a run on them there in the early 20s. I know the kid from LSU [Justin Jefferson] who I loved watching went, I think, to Minnesota in the early 20s. I knew the kid from Clemson [Tee Higgins] was still there and I enjoyed watching him as well. I didn’t know maybe as much about him. And the kid from Arizona State [Brandon Aiyuk] as well, I think they liked him. His teammate was with us, Manny Wilkins, a quarterback. So when they traded up, I definitely perked up a little bit.

Valentine’s Views:’ A feeling of trepidation, rather than joy, at the return of football | Big Blue View

Can it work?

“We have to accept that this is not going to be a perfect season,” Giants co-owner John Mara recently said.

No, it’s not.

We have already seen a myriad of ways in which the league will change for 2020. No preseason games. Regular COVID-19 testing. Virtual work followed by conditioning, walkthroughs, and unpadded practices before we finally get to real football practices in mid-August. Socially distanced locker rooms. No fans at games in many places, and severely limited numbers of fans if they are allowed at all. Changes in roster sizes and rules to accommodate for players missing weeks at a time due to the virus.

Ron Rivera: If Alex Smith is physically OK, he’s in QB mix | ESPN

“You don’t know until you get them on the field and do football-specific drills and see how the injuries react,” Rivera said. “That’s all part of passing the football physical.

“The big thing for us, we want to get a chance to look at them, see how they’re doing. You can work out and do all you want going straight ahead and sideways, but we have to see the football movement.”

Why a bubble wouldn’t work for the NFL and how MLB’s issues may affect NFL travel. Plus, the 49ers do right by Raheem Mostert, Joe Douglas goes to bat for Adam Gase, the Vikings suffer a big loss and more NFL news | MMQB

Alright, on to football … Good on the Niners for giving RB Raheem Mostert a little sweetener on his contract for 2020—and, really, if he does wind up hitting the added incentives then the team will probably be happy to write him those checks for it. His $2.575 million base, $50,000 workout bonus and $250,000 in per-game roster bonuses for 2020 remain intact. He gets a $250,000 signing bonus on top of that now (which fulfills a promise to give him an incentive he just missed in 2019), and his $1.25 million in incentives have been replaced by $2.25 million in incentives, which are tiered at four levels (773, 850, 950 and 1,050 rushing yards). So if he hits 1,050 rushing yards, he’ll wind up with $2.5 million on top of the $2.875 million he was set to make, and the Niners will have gotten themselves a pretty productive year out of the 28-year-old.

In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride

2) Tanoh Kpassagnon takes command of a starting defensive end position

Yes, I believe we will see a greater level of performance from defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon; I have previously noted the motivation of a contract year.

However, I don’t think that will be the sole reason he earns a starting position opposite Frank Clark. It will be exciting to get veteran defensive end Alex Okafor back from his injury-shortened season that ended after Week 15 — but let’s face it: the 31-year-old’s health issues could affect his role on the unit.

Instead, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could trust Kpassagnon to step up and take the majority of the reps as the weak-side defensive end in his 4-3 Under scheme. Kpassagnon won’t be new to that responsibility: after Week 7 last year, he led the all edge players in total snaps. In fact, he had more snaps than Clark in the three postseason games.

Initially, Kpassagnon’s youthful energy and fluidity will give him an edge as the early-down player over Okafor. The veteran’s role could be also be limited in order to keep him fresh for later in the year. Recently-acquired defensive end Taco Charlton may also cut into Okafor’s snaps.

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