In mid-March, the Kansas City Chiefs extended a qualifying contract offer to Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) TE Jody Fortson. On Thursday, Fortson officially signed his contract tender following OTA practice, a formality ensuring he’ll be back with the team for the 2022 NFL season.
ERFAs are veteran free agents who have yet to accrue three seasons in the NFL. Instead of becoming an unrestricted free agent that can sign with any team, their original team holds exclusive negotiating rights. If an ERFA is tendered a qualifying contract offer by their team prior to free agency, they can’t refuse said offer to become an unrestricted free agent. They can only reach unrestricted free agency if a team declines to extend a qualifying offer.
Fortson’s qualifying offer is expected to be a one-year deal for $660K.
A converted receiver out of Valdosta State University, Fortson spent the 2020 season on the practice squad in Kansas City. The 6-6 and 240-pound tight end would have a standout training camp and preseason in 2021, paving his way to make the 53-man roster to start the season.
“That’s what you’re going to see with this offense this year,’’ Mahomes said Thursday. “It’s going to be everybody. It’s not all going to be one guy. Obviously [Travis Kelce] is still going to get a lot of completions, a lot of yards but the whole receiving room is going to have big days and that can be something we use to our advantage.’’
“It’s a very deep receiving room. It’s hard to tell which guys are going to make it because we’ve got so many good receivers. That’s what you want. You want that competition. You want guys competing every single day to make the roster because they’re going to help us in the end.’’
1. AFC West
Do I really need to belabor this point? Did you pay attention to the offseason? And yeah, the Chiefs still reside here. And they have been good for at least the AFC title game since Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes started hanging out on a regular basis. Any of the other three teams may be able to make a case for most improved, and I don’t think anyone would blink if at least three of these four are in the expanded postseason. I’m gonna go ahead and crown ‘em here.
The strength of the Chiefs’ defense remains in the secondary and Steve Spagnuolo’s coaching. They develop players well, helping Charvarius Ward get paid in San Francisco. Rookie Trent McDuffie should fit right in.
Justin Reid was a savvy pickup. He flashed All-Pro potential early in his career in Houston, but has struggled to stay on the field.
The Chiefs have a similar profile to previous years, despite the departure of Tyreek Hill. Their defense should be good enough, not great. We should expect the offense to be among the league’s best. They remain one of the AFC favorites.
In the past, pine cones have flown, wet willies been given and good-natured heckling exchanged when Mahomes and Kelce have played at the event in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. And they’ve only participated in the two previous tournaments.
Kelce and Mahomes will be joined by a bevy of sports stars and celebrities at the event, which is July 8-10. T
hat includes two NFL quarterbacks who will join Mahomes in “The Match” golf event on June 1: the Bills’ Josh Allen and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
Others expected to play include Annika Sorenstam, Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, “Saturday Night Live” star Colin Jost, Ray Romano and Justin Timberlake.
Last month, Kelce and Mahomes won Timberlake’s 8AM Golf Invitational in Las Vegas.
Kansas City Chiefs: Tight End Travis Kelce
With Tyreek Hill being traded out of Kansas City, the Chiefs suddenly have a gaping hole among their pass catching group. Surely, there is great optimism for names like rookie Skyy Moore, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. And, you could argue that Kansas City may have a more balanced receiving group in 2022, because of the prior changes. The security blanket of tight end Travis Kelce is something that has not changed for the Chiefs offense, nevertheless.
Statistically speaking, Kelce has dominated the tight end ranks over the course of the last four seasons with Mahomes. He has registered at least 134 targets, 92 receptions, 1,125 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns each year over the course of those last four seasons. How much of an increase could he gain, statistically speaking? It may seem somewhat ludicrous for his numbers to be even higher per year. Yet, Mahomes and Kelce have a connection that is extremely rare. If that output does not continue in 2022, Kansas City may possibly fall short of their ultimate goal.
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McDaniels declined on Thursday to comment to reporters on Kaepernick’s workout with the Raiders, stating that he does not discuss players who are not currently on roster.
“Just by standard procedure, we will only talk about the people that are on our team,” McDaniels said. “[General manager] Dave [Ziegler] and his staff have worked out tons of guys this spring, and we really don’t make comments about the evaluations that we’ve made; or what they look like, what they didn’t look like.
“They’re kind of private for us as we look at things to try to make decisions to make the team better.”
Meanwhile, quarterback Jameis Winston is already back on the practice field just seven months after he tore his ACL, as both offensive pillars work their way back from major injuries.
Thomas, 29, missed the entire 2021 season with the ankle injury after he delayed his first surgery to repair multiple ligaments until June — then suffered a setback in November that required a follow-up procedure. The NFL’s 2019 Offensive Player of the Year has not been fully healthy since he initially suffered the ankle injury in Week 1 of the 2020 season and missed a total of nine games that season.
“I think he’s doing well in his rehab. He’s not ready yet. But he’s here, he’s rehabbing, he’s getting himself better. And we’re certainly anxious to get him out here,” Allen said. “I know that he’s working his tail off to get himself back. And we feel good about where he’s at right now.”
When asked whether Thomas will be ready for training camp, Allen said, “That’s certainly our plan.”
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Kansas City Chiefs safety Justin Reid spoke at Thursday’s team media availability. As one of the only veteran players, Reid will be counted on to be a leader in the secondary, even though he is new to the team. The former Houston Texan gave glowing reviews of his new defensive scheme.
“You’ve got guys coming from all over the place,” Reid said of Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s coverage schemes. “Coverage spinning in different directions. This is undoubtedly going to be the most fun defense I’ve played in so far.”
He elaborated on what he found fun about his new system.
“You get to do a little bit of everything,” he explained. “You aren’t just playing deep. You get to play man coverage, you get to play zone coverage, you get to blitz inside, you get to blitz outside, you get to do spin coverages. Sometimes, the linebackers and safeties trade responsibilities. Corners and safeties trade responsibilities. Guys going all over the place — and it’s really hard to get a read.”
After joining the team in free agency, Reid appeared satisfied with his decision.
“The culture here is phenomenal,” he observed. “All the resources in the world you could ever ask for. Great coaching. The details matter. I’ve had a lot of fun playing in this defense, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know my teammates. The locker room is great and it’s full of a bunch of good guys.
“The defense is so versatile. Not only do we have 100 plays that we’re able to just game plan and pick and choose which weapons we want to use against opponents in the future, but also taking advantage of opportunities like this where we get to play against our offense — which is undoubtedly one of the most firepower, stacked offenses in the league. When you get to play against those guys every day — iron sharpens iron and makes the whole team better.”