21 - Kansas City Chiefs
Alabama · WR · Junior
PROJECTED TRADE WITH PATRIOTS
With Tyreek Hill taking his talents to Miami, the Chiefs could use another speedy playmaker. Williams is coming off an ACL tear, but Andy Reid should still have interest in flipping two picks (their third-round compensatory selection and assigned fourth-rounder) to the Patriots to lock him up.
While the Chiefs will put up points with a league and Super Bowl MVP in Mahomes, they’ll need more help from the defense, which helped the team rebound from a 3-4 start last season. Kansas City allowed 17 points or fewer points in six consecutive games between Weeks 8 and 14, recording 16 takeaways in that stretch.
In 2021, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo fielded a unit that bent but didn’t break, ranking eighth in scoring while giving up the sixth-most yards. Now, the front office must replace Ward on the boundary, and it seems as though the team signed safety Justin Reid to fill Mathieu’s spot alongside Juan Thornhill.
As it currently stands, Kansas City will lose a pair of starting defensive backs who logged five interceptions and 16 pass breakups combined last season. Reid isn’t a reliable defender in the box or in the slot because he’s missed at least 14.3 percent of his tackle attempts over the past two seasons—a whiff in the open field could cost the Chiefs a ton of yards. Without Mathieu, the defense loses some of its versatility and a leader (three-year team captain):
On Friday’s edition of Get Up, Orlovsky dismissed the idea that the Chiefs offense can’t be “what it was” when they had Hill. He believes that the Chiefs offense will be different, but not much worse.
“I think it’s a little bit silly and ignorant of us to say this offense can’t be what it was with Tyreek Hill. It’s just gonna be different,” Orlovsky said.
Orlovsky explained that the Chiefs have clearly built this team to make Patrick Mahomes the focal point. He pointed out that the Chiefs still have plenty of weapons who can fill the void left by Hill.
The Chiefs’ six-year reign as AFC West champions could be coming to an end because of key losses, other than Hill being dealt to the Dolphins. The secondary will have a different look in 2022. Cornerback Charvarius Ward signed a three-year, $40.5 million contract containing $26.2 million in guarantees with the 49ers. Mathieu won’t be back. Justin Reid received a three-year, $31.5 million deal with $20.485 million fully guaranteed as his replacement.
Wide receiver will likely be a priority for Kansas City in the upcoming NFL Draft. Marquez Valdez-Scantling was signed to a three-year deal reportedly for $30 million to help offset Hill’s departure. JuJu Smith-Schuster previously signed a one-year, $3.25 million, incentive-laden contract worth up to $10.75 million.
George Karlaftis EDGE
Karlaftis is a player I loved heading into the 2021 season, but whose stock slipped a bit in my eyes. He’s still powerful and plays with the kind of ferocity you want to see, but he’s also the same player he was when I saw him as a freshman. It leads me to wonder if he’s already a finished product, and while that product is worth having on your team, I don’t think it’s one you want to take too early. This is a good spot for him, though, as the Chiefs need to get younger up front.
Around the NFL
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Age entering 2023 season: 26
It’s frankly amazing that Jackson is this close to free agency, or at least a franchise tag. He won the NFL MVP award in 2019 and has been eligible for an extension for more than a year. Recent comments from Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta suggest that Jackson is in no rush, a sensible approach given the way high-end quarterback salaries are trending.
Smith and Mariota were together in Tennessee in 2019, Mariota’s last season with the Titans and his last as a starter. In that year, Mariota struggled significantly and coach Mike Vrabel — under whom Smith worked as offensive coordinator — had no choice but to bench him for veteran backup Ryan Tannehill. The rest is history: Tannehill flourished, leading Tennessee to an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, while Mariota was left to find work elsewhere.
He found that work in Las Vegas as a backup who saw occasional snaps. With that tape in hand and an existing relationship with Smith, Mariota is moving to Atlanta to rejoin his former coordinator. But there’s a question we must first answer: Why does Mariota want to play for a coach who was part of a staff that once benched him?
“Well, he was always honest,” Mariota said of Smith on Friday. “Even to the point where in 2019 when things weren’t going well for me, he always shot me straight. I think, for me as a player, I truly appreciate that. He’s always been focused on making sure I can get better; in and out of the pocket, how I’m digesting the offense, how I’m seeing defenses, he always made it a point just to find little areas of improvement.
The 26-year-old was asked how he can convince Browns fans he’s not the person detailed in the lawsuits.
“I understand the whole circumstances is very difficult,” he said. “Especially for the women’s side of the fans in this community. I’m not naïve to that. I know these allegations is very, very serious, but like I mentioned before, I’ve never assaulted any woman. I never disrespected any woman. I was raised by a single-parent mom who has two aunties who is her sister. That’s who raised me. I was raised to be genuine and to respect everyone and everything around me. So I’ve always defended that and I will continue to stand on that. I just want the opportunity to be able to show who I really am in the community and be hands on and help people and serve other people.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Life after Hill
On Thursday, the Chiefs began to embrace their whole new world.
And here’s the key: As they enter life after Hill, it won’t be leaning into the energy of replacement — but rather reinvention. When viewed from that standpoint, there is almost something to be a little excited about.
From 2018 on, the Chiefs have relied on Hill stretching the field, opening things up for Kelce in the middle and intermediate and doing their best to run enough to keep an opposing defense honest. The system worked — and it worked well until the league as a whole made its 2021 adjustment: heavy doses of two-high coverage shells and a hard commitment that Hill, despite being the fastest player the league has to offer, would not get behind the last defender.
Mahomes had to learn how to adjust, as did the pass-catchers. Instead of taking, say, seven to 10 deep shots a game, he would have to connect on two or three opportunities. Sometimes that happened, and sometimes that didn’t — but there was enough of a midseason adjustment by Mahomes and company to rip off eight wins in a row and nine of 10, thereby clinching the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
Through 10 quarters of the NFL playoffs, the Chiefs looked destined to win their second Lombardi Trophy in three years. We understand what happened after that.