Kansas City Chiefs · Age 26
Projected APY: $24+ million
Free agent after: 2022 (franchise tag)
Kansas City placed the franchise tag on Brown this offseason. The 6-foot-8, 363-pounder was the cornerstone piece to the Chiefs’ O-line revamp following their Super Bowl LV loss to the Buccaneers. Kansas City acquired Brown in exchange for a package of picks that included a first- and third-rounder.
Brown wanted out of Baltimore for the opportunity to play left tackle — a position his father raised him to play. It’s also the position that pays most along the offensive trenches. Selected to each of the last three Pro Bowls, Brown has earned the honor in both of his seasons on the blindside (he was a Pro Bowler at right tackle following the 2019 season).
Protecting Patrick Mahomes is the No. 1 priority in Kansas City. Brown, who turned 26 this May, should be tasked with that responsibility for years to come. Regardless of whether an extension gets done, the tag can keep Brown in K.C. for at least 2022 — and likely 2023, if it comes to that.
When Trent Williams became the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman in March 2021, he did so by procuring a mere $10,000 more per season ($23.01 million) than Packers OT David Bakhtiari ($23.0 million). Brown should be the next player jockeying for that title, even though he’s not yet the same caliber of player as Williams or Bakhtiari.
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Justyn Ross
It’s not often an undrafted free-agent signing even makes headlines, let alone possesses the potential to become a big part of a perennial contender’s offense. Justyn Ross could break the mold after he became one of the more notable UDFA signings in recent history.
Although teams stayed clear of the Clemson product during the draft due to concerns about his extensive injury history, the wideout managed to catch on with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a perfect spot to start his career, given the club employs a superstar QB in Patrick Mahomes and was in the market for receiving help after trading away superstar Tyreek Hill.
Ross is now attempting to become the first known player with a congenital fusion in his spine to make the NFL. He was cleared by Kansas City’s team doctors and is now set to compete with 16 other wideouts—including second-round draft pick Skyy Moore and free-agent pickups JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling—to be one of the several to make the 53-man roster.
At his best, the 22-year-old has the chops to not only make the roster, but also emerge as a major piece of the Chiefs’ offensive plans. Ross posted a 1,000-yard freshman season in 2018, scoring nine times on his 46 catches that year before going on to finish his tenure at Clemson with 20 touchdowns in 38 games.
If he can get to full strength and avoid another major injury, this immensely talented prospect will help fill the void left by Hill, complementing a Kansas City passing attack that has just one productive incumbent—Mecole Hardman—returning to the fold in 2022.
Kiszla wrote that Chubb plans to beat the Chiefs in the 2022 season.
“It’s a Revenge Tour all year long,” Chubb said. “When you keep coming up short against a team, you get animosity for them.”
In the case of the Broncos, that’s a lot of animosity toward the Chiefs.
Because of injuries, Chubb has played in just 41 games in his first four years (out of 65 possible), but he’ll be a free agent in 2023 and aims to have a big season before then.
“When it comes to the business side of it, whatever happens at the end of the year happens,” Chubb said. “My job is to go out and help the Broncos win more games than we ever have in my five years. My job is getting as many sacks as Bradley Chubb has ever had in the NFL. That’s what Year Five is all about for me.”
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If you ask Fields, however, the teammates he sees on the roster and in practice are more than enough to reach the Bears’ objectives this season.
“We don’t have an Odell [Beckham Jr.] or a Cooper Kupp on our team, but at the end of the day I think if everybody is on their P’s and Q’s, and we’re on top of everything and not making mistakes, the players we have right now are good enough,” Fields said last week in an interview with Bleacher Report. “The front office thinks that, too. The fans outside of the facility, they don’t know what’s going on at practice. Just because we don’t have a big-name guy doesn’t mean those guys aren’t talented. I have plenty of confidence in myself and my teammates that we’re going to get the job done.”
“Obviously we live the game, but you can’t play forever,” Brown told Charly Arnolt when asked if football remains a priority for him. “I think I’m a great player that’s done everything in the game.”
Asked if he’ll be back on an NFL field in 2022, Brown was even more direct.
“Nah,” he said, “don’t play yourself looking (for) me to play.”
The 33-year-old Brown added during the interview that he’s content with off-field endeavors, whatever they may be.
“I do what I want,” he said. “Obviously I’m a 12-year veteran, one of the best players of all time, and my job is to live. Life is about living. We all gonna die ... I’m a rapper, I do shows, I’m an independent businessman. Business booming.”
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“More juice, man,” said Kelce, his eyes now lit up. “He was out there, you could tell he had been through a few routes in a row, and then he runs this double-move deep route, and he just catches it with ease and [he’s] just gasping for air.
“I’m like, ‘Man, you make a catch like that, you’ve got to let everybody know what you just did!’ You can’t just make a casual catch — I’m like, ‘Damn, that was kind of deflating to see you just kind of run back to the huddle like that, man. I need you to fuel me with life. Get hyped!’
If Kelce isn’t hyped, the Chiefs’ fan base certainly is. Before Kelce took the podium, Mahomes had his turn, explaining what he has seen in Ross — while (in a leadership fashion), lightening the load on the suddenly-smoldering expectations.
“You still see the talent,” said Mahomes of the former undrafted free agent. “I think that’s the first thing. I know people saw the catch on Twitter, but the way he catches the football out of the air — he snatches it. There’s no drops, anything like that.