The Chiefs have made four consecutive AFC title games. That’s a testament to the franchise’s roster-building and the play of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Now they head into the 2022 season without explosive wideout Tyreek Hill, whom they traded to Miami in March. K.C. still has an elite pass-catcher in Travis Kelce, and the attention he attracts should open up the field for newcomers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Skyy Moore. Adding Ronald Jones II to the backfield should help raise Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s level, and the offensive line returns pretty well intact after a massive overhaul last offseason.
The defense isn’t going to steal the spotlight from Andy Reid’s offense but it’s solid at all three levels. Frank Clark and Chris Jones anchored a front that ranked 29th in sacks a season ago, but it should get a major boost from first-round draft pick George Karlaftis. The Chiefs have a young, fast linebacker corps with Nick Bolton and Willie Gay leading the charge, and while the club let do-it-all safety Tyrann Mathieu walk in free agency, the Chiefs signed safety Justin Reid and selected rookie Trent McDuffie — one of the best value picks in the draft — to assist rising cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and the rest of the CB group.
The Panthers began last season on fire defensively, but slowed over the second half of the season. They lost Haason Reddick in free agency and don’t have a ready-made replacement. Their secondary should be a strength but it’s tough to see the front being good enough to push them toward the top 10. Chicago was a disaster defensively last season, and while new head coach Matt Eberflus and a couple of early draft picks should help, the trade of Khalil Mack robs the Bears of their best pass-rusher.
Kansas City used four of its first five draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, so perhaps we’re being a bit unkind to the Chiefs here, but even while forcing a ton of turnovers last season they still finished outside the top 20 in EPA per play, DVOA, yards per play, and points per drive. That’s a lot of ground to make up. Tennessee had an above-average defense last season but there’s just not enough high-level talent aside from Jeffery Simmons and Kevin Byard for us to see them crashing the top 10.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
R2 (58): LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
R2 (63): C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
R4 (144): Edge Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State
R5 (162): TE Noah Gray, Duke
R5 (181): WR Cornell Powell, Clemson
R6 (226): G Trey Smith, Tennessee
Initial Draft Grade: B+
1-year Re-Grade: A+
For not having a first-round pick and not drafting particularly valuable positions, the Chiefs still knocked it out of the park. Creed Humphrey was the highest-graded center in the NFL as a rookie. Nick Bolton was the 13th-highest-graded linebacker. Finally, Trey Smith was one of the steals of the draft in the sixth round after he earned a 72.3 overall grade at right guard in 2021.
3 - Tyreek Hill
Miami Dolphins · WR
TRADED BY: Kansas City Chiefs
TRADED FOR: 2022 Rounds 1, 2 and 4 picks; 2023 Rounds 4 and 6 picks
This deal was seismic in how it affected both franchises. The Chiefs lost the most electric wide receiver in football, while the Dolphins gave quarterback Tua Tagovailoa another reason to raise his game. Hill gives the Miami offense so many things: a frightening downfield threat, an invaluable tool to use during pre-snap motion and a player who can be just as lethal on jet sweeps and reverses. Hill opened up the middle of the field for tight end Travis Kelce and required the attention of at least two defenders on every play in Kansas City. Just think of what that will mean for targets like Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson and tight end Mike Gesicki in Miami. There’s a lot riding on Tua’s maturation this fall. Hill provides plenty to help that process happen.
The Chiefs fell short of their goal, narrowly missing out on their chance to compete in another Super Bowl. Burton says that he and the rest of his teammates wanted to get to work again the moment the clock struck zero. After taking a step back and now getting back to it in the offseason program, the team has a fresh perspective on what they can do to ensure that they’re playing in Super Bowl LVII in Arizona next February.
“It was a great learning experience,” Burton continued. “The type of guys and coaches that we have in this organization – in this culture – (they) understand that we can do better and we can finish. We’ve taken that to heart this offseason. Guys have been working extremely hard to make sure that we’re on top of every single detail, to make sure that the game is finished and we’re playing in the Super Bowl.”
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“Happy for guys like AD (Aaron Donald) that really work hard,” said Gurley, who went to three Pro Bowls in his six NFL seasons and earned a pair of All-Pro nods. “Guys like Jalen Ramsey that put in work. Obviously gotta go with all my running back guys, seeing guys like Cam Akers come back from an Achilles in four months. Sony Michel getting traded from the Patriots, not only did he beat the Rams in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, he’s also won one with them, as well. Guys like Darrell Henderson. So, you always get excited for the guys. It’s never just about you. Yeah, everyone would love a ring. But at the end of the day, it’s about being able to congratulate and then see other guys succeed and being happy for them.”
Still just 27 years old, Gurley’s career reached its zenith in 2018 when he was very much the engine that drove the Rams to a Super Bowl berth. He tallied an NFL-high 17 rushing touchdowns and ran for 1,251 yards in 14 regular-season games.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins
I love the track team assembled around him. I buy that this young QB is in fact the same kid who set records at Alabama and had teams tanking for him. The madness of playing under dueling offensive coordinators — or mystery coordinators or whatever the hell Brian Flores was trying to do on the offensive staff — is behind him. It’s a fresh start under Mike McDaniel. The pass-catchers will get a ton of YAC. The offensive line is much improved. They will run the ball. Tua won’t have to be super flashy to be very effective. I like the fit.
The team did not disclose terms, but a source told ESPN that Foles received a two-year contract, confirming a report by NFL Network.
The Colts released quarterback James Morgan in a corresponding move.
The Eagles showed interest in a potential reunion with Foles before he agreed to the deal with the Colts, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. As the Eagles received trade interest on Gardner Minshew, they discussed Foles but ultimately decided they would stick with their current quarterback room, which includes Minshew and undrafted free agent Carson Strong behind starter Jalen Hurts, the source said.
In Indianapolis, Foles will back up starter Matt Ryan, whom the Colts acquired in a trade from the Atlanta Falcons this offseason.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
On Monday, 15 NFL teams will begin Phase Three of their offseason program. The Kansas City Chiefs will start Phase Three on Wednesday.
Here’s what’s allowed during this part of the program:
Phase Three consists of the next four weeks. Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. This minicamp, noted below, must occur during Phase Three of the offseason program.
The Chiefs will conduct their 10 voluntary OTA sessions on these dates:
May 25-26 (Wednesday through Thursday)
May 31-June 2 (Tuesday through Thursday)
June 7-10 (Tuesday through Friday)
Credentialed media is permitted to attend practice and interview coaches and players the next three Thursdays, and media is also permitted to cover each day of the Chiefs’ three-day mandatory minicamp — beginning on Tuesday, June 14 and running through to Thursday, June 16.