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Arrowheadlines: The Chiefs’ rivals continue to add pass-rushers

Chiefs headlines for Thursday, March 17

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

2022 NFL free agency team-by-team grades: Bills, Buccaneers, Chargers, Jets among early winners | CBS Sports

Kansas City Chiefs: B

OT Orlando Brown Jr. (franchise tag)

Texans S Justin Reid (3 years, $31.5 million)

Adding Reid likely signals the end of the Tyrann Mathieu era, but it’s a smart long-term gamble. Let’s see how they handle the D-line beyond restructuring Frank Clark’s deal.

Two AFC West teams lead NFL ‘offseason improvement index.’ Is it enough to top Chiefs? | Kansas City Star

The Denver Broncos also have been busy. They made arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, adding Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Denver also sneaked in and signed former Cowboys outside linebacker Randy Gregory after it appeared he had a deal with Dallas. Additionally, the Broncos signed San Francisco defensive tackle D.J. Jones to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Pro Football Focus data scientist Kevin Cole said the Broncos and Chargers are 1-2 in the “offseason improvement index,” which looks at the total WAR (wins above replacement) each team has added.

Both teams are loading up in hopes of ending long streaks that have seen them either not win the AFC West or make the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs have won a record six straight AFC West titles.

The first came in 2016, and ended the Broncos’ five-year stretch as division champs. But Denver hasn’t been back to the postseason since winning that West title and later Super Bowl 50.

2022 NFL free agency: Baker Mayfield’s future; Wednesday’s winners and losers | NFL. com

MOVING DOWN

AFC West quarterbacks: Khalil Mack joined the party via the Chargers last week, and now Chandler Jones has arrived in the division as a member of the Raiders. The Broncos have built up their defensive front, too, which all makes me think that AFC West offensive lines had better have two great tackles, not one. Jones’ signing precipitated a rare player-for-player trade, with Yannick Ngakoue heading from Las Vegas to Indianapolis in exchange for improving cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. The Raiders, who were parting ways with Jon Gruden-era holdovers Nick Kwiatkoski and Carl Nassib on Wednesday, needed to remake their defense in the image of new coordinator Patrick Graham. They are off to an excellent start.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Saints make monster trade for Deshaun Watson, Seahawks pick Malik Willis | CBS Sports

Round 1 - Pick 30

Drake London WR

Kansas City

London isn’t the speed type the Chiefs have prioritized during the Mahomes era, but he has the rebounding ability to thrive with an aggressive quarterback throwing him the football.

Around the NFL

Buffalo Bills, LB Von Miller agree on six-year contract; TE O.J. Howard gets 1-year deal | ESPN

Miller’s deal is worth $120 million, according to multiple reports. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that it includes $51.5 million guaranteed, including $45 million fully guaranteed at signing.

The Bills also brought in the veteran tight end they were looking for, agreeing with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard on a one-year contract. Sources told Schefter it’s a $3.5 million deal that could be worth up to $5 million.

Miller immediately becomes the best pass-rusher on the Bills’ roster, despite the team significantly investing in defensive ends in the past two drafts. Buffalo has used two second-round picks and one first-round selection on the position in the past two years but lacked a player that opposing offenses needed to be consistently aware of.

Buccaneers, WR Chris Godwin agree to three-year, $60M deal | NFL.com

Godwin and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to a three-year deal worth $60 million, with $40 million guaranteed at signing, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

A Pro Bowl receiver in 2019 prior to Tom Brady’s arrival, Godwin was a focal point for the Bucs then and is a vital presence now.

Lost for the 2021 season after 14 games due to an ACL tear, the 26-year-old Godwin still produced 1,103 yards receiving, five touchdowns and a career-best 98 receptions.

Week after surprising trade from Chicago Bears, optimistic Khalil Mack ‘just can’t wait’ to get started with Los Angeles Chargers | ESPN

“It was weird to hear, but having a relationship with coach [Brandon] Staley, it went from bittersweet to excited, knowing who I’m dealing with and how much he truly loves football,” Mack said.

Staley was Mack’s linebackers coach when the Bears acquired Mack from the Raiders during the 2018 preseason. Staley was in Chicago for only one season before going to Denver when former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was hired as Broncos head coach.

Staley is hoping this reunion with Mack lasts longer.

“I’m excited for him to be around our team and build a team with him [on the roster],” Staley said. “It was an amazing year in Chicago, but that didn’t last long enough. To be able to do it again is very special, and I’m excited about it for sure.”

Titans releasing WR Julio Jones after one season | NFL.com

Jones finished 2021 with 31 catches on 48 targets for 434 yards and one TD, all career lows. He generated just one regular-season game with more than 60 yards receiving. In the Titans’ postseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones netted six catches for 62 yards.

By designating Jones a post-June 1 cut, the Titans save $9.513 million in cash and salary-cap space in 2022. The move spreads the cap hit over two years, leaving $8.4 million dead money in 2023.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Report: Tyreek Hill’s Chiefs extension could happen in ‘coming days’

According to the NFL salary-cap trackers Over the Cap and Spotrac, the Chiefs are more than $10 million dollars over the 2022 salary cap based upon all the moves that we know about. This will have to change in some capacity by 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time, which marks the beginning of the new league year.

(Note: We don’t yet know the precise effect of defensive end Frank Clark’s contract restructure, which could put the Chiefs very close to the cap — or perhaps even under it).

Hill, 28, is coming off a season with 111 catches, which set the single-season franchise record. He accumulated 1,239 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. Hill added nine carries for 96 yards.

Hill plays a key role in head coach Andy Reid’s offense, so he has become a priority for the Chiefs to keep in the long term. As Rapoport mentioned, the sooner Kansas City can work something out, the better — as this will provide for salary-cap space for other moves. Recent wide receiver contracts around the league — such as Christian Kirk signing for $18 million per year with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Mike Williams signing for $20 million per year with the Los Angeles Chargers — don’t necessarily help the Chiefs, as Hill can make a great case that he should be making significantly more money than either of those players.

However, a long-term contract would predictably get Hill well above those averages, saving a smaller cap hit for the initial year. While teams’ salary caps are limited to $208 million for this season, they are expected to be boosted as new TV rights deals that will hit in 2023 and 2024. Thus, the Chiefs can push Hill’s bigger numbers down the line a bit.

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