But receiving is obviously his bread and butter. Since 2016, the only players with more receiving yards than Kelce are Atlanta’s Julio Jones ($22 million annually), New Orleans’s Michael Thomas ($19 million annually), Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins ($16 million annually), and Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans ($16.5 million annually). Kelce has long been one of the best receivers in football, but because he is technically a tight end, he was paid about half of what his true peers are making. Now he is much closer to earning what his production justifies. Considering Kelce turns 31 in October, this might be his last chance at a major payday.
It’s not brave or exciting to say that the Chiefs could take advantage of a nonexistent offseason and sprint to the finish line again. Without offseason media access it’s difficult to determine nebulous factors like complacency, but the roster did a fine job of solidifying itself in the offseason and adding a top-flight running back who could diversify the scheme in rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire. When you have a coach/quarterback combination like Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes it’s difficult to project a plateauing given one’s ability (and willingness) to create and one’s ability to embody those advancements.
“It was the understanding that me and Pat have,” Jones said. “We both have the same goal: Create a dynasty and build something special.”
It’s not just the contracts of this offseason that has the Chiefs hopeful of becoming the next New England Patriots.
Jones’ defensive linemate Frank Clark is signed to a five-year, $104 million deal that will last the 27 year old until he’s 30.
That means the Chiefs should be able to rush the passer and complete passes — two of the most important qualities of winning football — for the foreseeable future.
Hill, a 26-year-old speedster who will be catching those passes, is signed through 2022, and the exciting, young wide receiver he just bested in a race, 22-year-old Mecole Hardman, has a rookie deal that goes through the same year.
6. Steve Spagnuolo, Chiefs defensive coordinator
One season can change a reputation. Spagnuolo entered 2019 having coached a 31st- or 32-ranked defense in three of his previous four seasons. But he transformed a Chiefs defense that held Patrick Mahomes back in 2018 into one that allowed him to lift the franchise to its first Super Bowl title in 50 years. The architect of the Giants’ 2007 defense that shut down the unbeaten Patriots, Spagnuolo floundered with the Rams, Saints and back with the Giants. But with a remade pass rush and Tyrann Mathieu peaking down the stretch, Spagnuolo’s complex scheme was essential to the Chiefs’ championship run.
The Philadelphia Eagles chose Stanford’s Zach Ertz with the 35th pick. He has proven to be a solid receiver and is one of the best in the NFL, a cut below Kelce and George Kittle. Ertz has 525 receptions.
Tappit is now the Chiefs’ official mobile payment solution for the team’s app. Its technology will spearhead the app’s new scan-and-go cashless payment function throughout Arrowhead via what the team is branding ChiefsPay.
“So if you go to the pro shop or to food and beverage as a fan,” said Jason Thomas, Tappit’s CEO, “you’ll literally be able to press a button, and since you’ll have already connected either your credit card, bank card, Google GOOGL +0.6% Pay or Apple AAPL +1.7% Pay to the app, you could press a button and be able to pay through a QR code.”
Around the NFL
DAVID CARR: It’s hard not to pick Alex Smith. It’s miraculous that he’s close to hitting the football field again after seeing what he went through since suffering a catastrophic leg injury in 2018. He’s still on the physically unable to perform list as he continues to get healthy, but Ron Rivera reiterated earlier this week that if Smith is healthy and activated, he will be in the QB competition with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. It will continue to be a difficult road for Smith, but what a story it would be if he ended up as the QB1 at some point this year.
“Bringing football back will require the ultimate team effort, and we are so proud of the hard work our front line professionals have put in at the stadium and across our organization to ensure our fans, players, and employees have a safe and rewarding experience. The Dallas Cowboys value health and safety as our first priority, and we will continue to work closely with local public safety and public health professionals, the CDC and the NFL to ensure that our unrivaled fan experience at AT&T Stadium is the safest and best it can possibly be. There will be many changes this year, and we are deeply grateful for the understanding and support from our dedicated fans.”
Using advanced metrics, it looks worse. The Football Outsiders DVOA efficiency statistic adjusts for context (e.g., 3 yards on third-and-2 is not equal to 3 yards on third-and-8), and the Steelers offense plummeted from sixth in DVOA in 2018 to dead last in 2019. That is the fourth-biggest one-year drop in their database, which goes back to 1986.
The good news for Steelers fans is they’ll likely never root for a worse offense than they did last year. The bad news is that if Roethlisberger isn’t healthy, the Steelers are looking at the same backup quarterbacks they had in 2019. Despite Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota, and Case Keenum all signing contracts as backups this offseason (not to mention Colin Kaepernick being available and Cam Newton signing for cheap), Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges are still no. 2 and 3 on Pittsburgh’s depth chart. The only other QB Pittsburgh has is Paxton Lynch, who has four touchdowns in four years and will go down as the worst Broncos draft pick of a decade that included using the 25th pick on Tim Tebow.
Tagovailoa, 22, has gotten joy learning from Fitzpatrick, 37, rather than treating him as an adversary. The two have colorful personalities, and Tagovailoa has been in awe of how open and helpful Fitzpatrick has been to him.
“To start it off with Fitz, very, very down-to-earth person, very humble,” Tagovailoa said. “To be a professional like that is mind-boggling how down-to-earth he is. This guy just gets it. I don’t know what it is. He just gets it.
“That saying goes true. It says if you want to get somewhere fast, you go alone, and if you want to go somewhere with purpose, you bring people with you. I think Fitz has done a tremendous job of trying to shape and mold me, and Josh [Rosen] as well. It’s been pretty cool to go through that process with him.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
The last two years of Kelce’s existing contract (totaling $18.25 million) become guaranteed at signing. On the first day of the 2021 league year next March, Kelce’s 2022 salary (let’s say it’s $10 million, which would be an increase over the $9 million he is due to collect in 2021) becomes fully guaranteed, bringing the total guarantees of the deal to $28.25 million. That leaves $47.25 million to be spread out over the remaining three years of the deal — perhaps something like $15 million in 2023, $15.75 million in 2024 and $16.5 million in 2025.
There are other numbers you can plug into those slots and make it match what we know. But based on what’s been reported, the contract structure could look something very much like what we’ve described.
A tweet to make you think
Patrick Mahomes is not human— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 13, 2020
when opponents led the Chiefs by 10+ points at any point, Mahomes still led the Chiefs to a 5-0 record in 2019
the rest of the NFL: 31-212 (13%)
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