As the week began, we learned that the NFL was considering rule changes for overtime — but as far as some Kansas City Chiefs fans are concerned, it should have happened years ago.
This momentum for a change in overtime rules will probably irk Chiefs fans — at least a little. As most will remember, it was three playoff tournaments ago when the New England Patriots beat the Chiefs in one possession after winning their overtime toss. Tom Brady waltzed down the field in 13 plays and Rex Burkhead’s 2-yard scoring run ended the game.
Had the rules been different, perhaps the Chiefs would have gone to three straight Super Bowls. Maybe they beat the Los Angeles Rams that year — and the Patrick Mahomes Era would have already produced two titles instead of just one. Too sweet an alternate universe to ignore, the Chiefs proposed a change after that postseason — yet it never went to a vote.
That does not seem to be the case this offseason, with multiple teams pushing for change for at least the postseason — according to The Washington Post — with added consideration for a change of rules in the regular season.
Also on Monday, Matt Stagner began an offseason edition of his Market Movers series with a look at the Chiefs’ Bulls — that is, the players whose stock is currently on the rise.
Mecole Hardman: Depending on expectations, opinions about Hardman vary. If you’re looking for him to be either a No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver (or to justify his draft capital), you’re likely to still be disappointed — and you probably will be for the rest of his career. Whether they’re fair or not, he simply isn’t likely to live up to those standards. But that doesn’t mean Hardman won’t be a valuable part of the team in 2022. He’s still on his rookie deal, which means he’s relatively cheap. After a 2021 campaign with 59 catches for 693 yards and two touchdowns — and a fairly productive postseason — he’s continued to increase his production each season. Hardman has settled into a role where he can contribute on the ground, in the air and in the return game. The assumption is that Kansas City will add a front-line line wideout (or two) this offseason. With the pressure off — and expectations reset — Hardman can be a valuable and dangerous Swiss Army Knife in an offense that needs multiple playmakers.
The NFL Scouting Combine opened in Indianapolis on Tuesday — and Kansas City’s head coach and general manager both took and opportunity to speak with reporters. Reid wasted no time, opening his remarks with an assault on rumors that have been circulating about his offensive coordinator.
“This whole thing with Eric Bieniemy that’s been written has gotten kind of fabricated,” said Reid. “We were on vacation and over the two weeks, I came back, and all of a sudden, it was that I didn’t like Eric and Eric didn’t like me and Pat Mahomes and everybody else. That’s not the case. We all get along good, and I’m glad he’s back with us and rolling. I thought he’d potentially get a head coaching job, which I would have been happy with, too, but that’s not how it worked out.
“Anyway, I just wanted to put that to rest. The rest of the time is yours.”
In his turn before the press, the general manager noted that during Combine Week, he’d be making a special point to meet with all of his player’s representatives. And both he and the head coach repeated how they fell about their free-agent safety.
“After the Cincinnati game, we had a chance to talk,” said Veach. “We communicated that we certainly love Tyrann — and Tyrann loves being here.”
“We love Tyrann, so it’s a matter of how that all fits in,” maintained Reid. “Again... Brett [Veach] has to juggle all that. We’ll see where it goes as we go in the future here. But we all love [Mathieu]. I think that’s important.”
Veach also said that the team would not lose sight of less-prominent free-agent players like cornerback Charvarius Ward and wide receiver Byron Pringle.
On Wednesday, our Bryan Stewart covered some of the veteran edge rushers that Kansas City might consider adding during the 2022 offseason.
Hidden value tier
Talent isn’t and never has been the problem with Gregory — it is his ability to stay on the field for a wide variety of disciplinary and health-related reasons that will keep him from earning top-shelf money. His unique circumstances make predicting a contract difficult, but Gregory is coming off a career-year where he posted six sacks and three forced fumbles in 10 starts.
As a player, Gregory displays pass rush talent that only a couple of the other free agents can match — but the additional risks involved could have him off the board for some teams altogether.
Then — just as he had done with Kansas City’s offensive free agents last week — Jared Sapp estimated how the Chiefs would handle their own defensive free agents.
Edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Alex Okafor
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has already highlighted the defensive line as his biggest priority this offseason. He likely has his sights on higher-upside players than Okafor, who combined for 9.5 sacks in three injury-riddled seasons in Kansas City. Ingram provided a much-needed spark to the pass rush after a midseason trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though his stats were modest, the unit as a whole performed much better with him in the lineup. Ingram, who will turn 33 in April, is likely a candidate to return to the Chiefs — or another contender — on a short deal in pursuit of a Super Bowl ring.
Prediction: The Chiefs will bring Ingram back on a one-year deal, while allowing Okafor to walk.
Ron Kopp spent Thursday providing a guide for Kansas City fans watching NFL Combine workouts.
3. Athletic testing for safeties
The last two times the Chiefs have used a draft pick to select a safety prospect — L’Jarius Sneed and Juan Thornhill — they heavily valued athleticism.
Both prospects were in at least the 94th percentile in broad jump and vertical jump among defensive backs while also being both above the 85th percentile in the 40-yard dash. Neither were 50th percentile or higher in arm length or hand size.
Yes, Sneed converted to cornerback — but when he’s in the slot, he is still being used as a strong safety would be. With the Chiefs potentially looking for another safety — in a class with plenty to choose from at pick 30 or later — watch for the players with the best testing numbers.
Some safety prospects who are expected to have great Combines:
Daxton Hill, Michigan
Jaquan Brisker, Penn State
Nick Cross, Maryland
An excellent performance from the first two might put them out of reach for the Chiefs at pick 30 — but Cross currently projects as a Day 2 pick.
Friday brought news that the Chiefs have spent Combine Week working on a contract extension with their star wide receiver.
“This would be the third contract for Tyreek Hill,” said Rapoport on the network’s “NFL Now” program on Friday. “My understanding is the two sides — Tyreek Hill’s longtime agent Drew Rosenhaus and the Kansas City Chiefs — have been involved in negotiations over the course of the week. There have been proposals going back and forth about a potential long-term deal.”
While Rapoport didn’t reveal any details about the specific length or size of the proposals being passed back and forth, he did say that the contract will be structured much differently than the one Hill and the Chiefs worked out in 2019, when Hill signed a four-year contract totaling $54 million.
“Now, the last time these two sides did a long-term deal,” noted Rapoport, “it was uniquely designed to make Tyreek Hill — considering all the off-the-field issues he had — earn every bit of it. My understanding is [that] this deal is much more normal and conventional.”