Nick Bolton, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
2021 stats: 112 tackles, 11 tackles for loss in 16 games
The Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2021 season with a perceived need at linebacker. While veteran Anthony Hitchens was a productive member of the unit, his lack of athleticism stood out in sub-packages the year before. 2020 second round pick Willie Gay had yet to prove himself, and rookie Nick Bolton surely wouldn’t be the immediate answer for a Super Bowl-hopeful.
However, as the weeks passed and Bolton settled into his role, he blossomed. By the middle of the year, Bolton had a three-game stretch with 35 total tackles and five tackles for loss. He had played more than 72 percent of snaps in just one of those games.
His development peaked at the right time, as Bolton became a major reason the Chiefs’ defensive unit improved throughout the year. He remained a force throughout the Chiefs’ first two playoff games, as well.
Kansas City has retooled their defense this unit to be more athletic and versatile. With Hitchens gone in free agency, Bolton should now play close to every snap each week instead of being a part-time contributor. Look for him to realize his star status and be the heart of the Chiefs’ defense for a long time.
Quite a few fans in Denver were shocked or flat-out angry that their city was bypassed in favor of Kansas City. That included Colorado Rapids coach Robin Fraser.
“I think if you look at cities in this region, Kansas City being one of them … it’s actually mind-boggling to me that Kansas City was chosen over Denver,” Fraser told Colorado Public Radio.
That story had noted: “Rubbing salt into wounds, Denver lost out to Kansas City, a regional frenemy thanks to the Denver Broncos decades-long rivalry with the Kansas City Chiefs.”
It is only natural to expect animosity toward KC from fans in Denver because the Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015. T
hat may have fueled some of the anger from fans in Denver, who vented after FIFA made its selection for the 2026 World Cup host cities. There were more than a few who included curse words, so they couldn’t be included here.
Kansas City Chiefs: Trade for Saquon Barkley
Chiefs get: RB Saquon Barkley
Giants get: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 2023 fourth-round pick
The Kansas City Chiefs added three new bodies to their backfield this offseason, including free agent Ronald Jones and rookies Isiah Pacheco and Jerrion Ealy. They also just brought veteran Jerick McKinnon back after an impressive 2021 stint. It’s clear they view the position as a concern despite taking Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round two years ago.
Their best outcome is to trade Edwards-Helaire into a fresh situation and gamble on a higher-upside talent.
The New York Giants have a bad but expensive roster. New head coach Brian Daboll would surely love to deploy a fully healthy Saquon Barkley in 2022, but the franchise has seen limited production and availability from the 2018 No. 2 pick. Trading his $7.2 million cap hit and getting a fresh look at Edwards-Helaire is the more prudent decision.
Barkley, despite lacking the explosiveness he had before tearing his ACL in 2020, still has plenty of fans around the league thanks to his potential as a dual-threat back. His fifth-year option would allow Kansas City to take a one-year flier on him regaining his form. Barkley, unlike Edwards-Helaire, would clearly be the most talented back in a crowded room.
He’ll become just the third person to be in both the Canadian and Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining former Minnesota Vikings and Winnipeg head coach Bud Grant and quarterback Warren Moon, who began his illustrious career in the CFL with Edmonton. Moon played most of his NFL career with the Houston Oilers and also played with Minnesota, Seattle and Kansas City.
“It stunned me, it surprised me after all of these years,” Levy told The Canadian Press from Chicago during a telephone interview. “I know how few people there are in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
“I know Bud Grant was an opponent, but he was also a man I’ve always admired and like very much. And Warren Moon was such a terrific player, both in Canada and the NFL. It’s very, very heartwarming. I’m thrilled and a little bit amazed.”
1 - Kansas City Chiefs
I worked with Andy Reid for 14 years in Philadelphia, who is a clear future Hall Of Fame Head Coach. Mahomes’ combination of athleticism, accuracy, intelligence, and leadership is lethal. Looking at each decade in football, there has been a theme of one team controlling the decade through dominant play. The 80s were controlled by the Cowboys; the 90s by the 49ers; the 2000s and 2010s by Belichick and Brady. When we look back at the late 2010s and 2020s, I think we will be saying the same about the Chiefs. That’s why they are the top team on this list.
Around the NFL
The NFL suspended Hunt for the first eight games of the 2019 season due to a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. He recorded 464 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in his first season with Cleveland.
Hunt signed a one-year restricted free-agent tender to remain with the Browns in April 2020. The Toledo alum was given a two-year, $12 million extension five months later that kept him under contract through the 2022 season.
The 2020 campaign was Hunt’s best as a member of the Browns. He finished with 841 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. The 26-year-old appeared in all 18 games, including the playoffs, that season.
Cleveland has one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. The group ranked fourth with 145.4 yards per game on the ground last season. Nick Chubb, who is signed through 2024, ran for 1,259 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 starts.
“I thought I played well here last year, and I feel like I can get better and pick off from what I did last year,” the defensive end said when listing the reasons he returned to the Browns.
“Then my boy came here, Deshaun.”
Clowney is coming off a breakout season with the Browns after signing a one-year deal last year. Playing opposite All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett, Clowney finished with nine sacks; both Garrett and Clowney ranked in the top four in the NFL in pass rush win rate.
“Me and [Garrett] did some good things together,’’ Clowney said as the Browns completed their final minicamp practice at FirstEnergy Stadium. “We got along well. We played well together. We fed off each other. We’re going to do the same thing this year, even better. ... We got a good thing going from last year. We want to keep it going this year.”
4) Whither Rob Gronkowski?
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended minicamp, there was no update on whether Rob Gronkowski would return to the team. The tight end has been consistently non-committal about his desire to play, even after Tom Brady returned to the fold following a 40-day retirement.
Gronk can afford to take his time — he would certainly be on a reduced practice schedule in training camp, and has made clear that, if he returns, it will only be to the Bucs. Tampa Bay appears to be holding open a spot for him — after the departure of O.J. Howard, the Buccaneers have Cameron Brate and a handful of very young players at the position. The Bucs would undoubtedly be better with Gronk — Brady said he was ”hopeful” for his return — and for those who like fun, the NFL is better with him in it, too.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
With organized team activities (OTAs) and their mandatory minicamp behind them, the Kansas City Chiefs made four roster moves on Thursday, signing defensive back Chris Lammons and wide receiver Aaron Parker while waiving cornerback Luq Barcoo. Wide receiver Mathew Sexton was also waived with an injury designation.
Lammons, 26, has been with the Chiefs for the last two seasons — almost exclusively as a special-teams player. He spent the 2020 season on the practice squad, from which he was elevated to the active roster for two regular-season games and all three postseason games. He made the 53-man roster in 2021, appearing in 12 games before being placed on the Reserve/Injured list in December.
Lammons was in the news during the offseason. He — along with New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and two other men — was wanted by Las Vegas police after a man was beaten in a nightclub in the early-morning hours of February 5. Lammons turned himself in on February 16 — the day after news of his involvement in the matter initially broke. His signing suggests that the Chiefs have satisfied themselves that he will not face significant consequences from the incident.
A tweet to make you think
Maybe the Bears don't want to trade Robert Quinn–but the #Chiefs should still be making phone calls. Quinn is the kind of player they need to put the defense over the top. #ShowAndBK@RealRonTheShow | @BKSportsTalk | @StephenSerda pic.twitter.com/e1R1LJNsUH— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) June 17, 2022