1. Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
It’s gotten to the point with Mahomes that anything less than highlight-reel perfection raises questions about whether he’s “slipping” as his generation’s premier gunslinger. Take, for example, his 2021 campaign, in which he forced lots of throws and relied too much on off-script plays but still posted a top-10 QB rating, threw 35+ touchdowns for the third time in four years and effortlessly led the Chiefs to their fourth straight AFC Championship appearance. He’ll face new challenges in 2022, throwing to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling instead of go-to deep-ball artist Tyreek Hill. But he still possesses unteachable creativity in and outside the pocket, and as long as he’s paired with Andy Reid, it’s tough to bet against his title chances.
“This is a proud day for the Chiefs franchise and the Hunt family as the club has supported and invested in the global growth of American football and its fanbase for more than 30 years,” Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. “Our club’s goals for international expansion require a thoughtful, long-term commitment to Germany and its football fans. We are thrilled to introduce this group of dedicated, innovative leaders who will help advise us on our current and future efforts in the market to reach and exceed those goals. We have much to learn and look forward to getting started.”
The board members include, in alphabetical order:
Jana Bernhard, Chief Executive Officer, S20
Holger Blask, Managing Director, Marketing and Sales, Deutscher Fußball Bund
Andreas Jung, Executive Board Member, FC Bayern Munich
Marco Klewenhagen, Managing Director, SPONSORs
Wolfram Kons, Head of Charity and Vice President, RTL Foundation – We help children
Karsten Petry, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Deutsche Sporthilfe
CB/S Nazeeh Johnson (Round 7, 259th overall)
Impressive stat to know: 18 pass breakups and six interceptions in his final 43 games at Marshall
Johnson was a full-time, four-year stud at Marshall. His 2021 film was an absolute blast. Whether it was from the nickel corner position, playing robber in the middle of the field, or ranging deep, Johnson was a magnet to the football. His vast experience allows him to play super fast, and his athletic traits are spectacular. Now, in a defensive backfield in Kansas City that’s undergoing vast renovations, Johnson has an opportunity to make his mark immediately. Even as a seventh-rounder, he will.
Duvernay-Tardif has been an unrestricted NFL free agent since March after finishing last season with the New York Jets. He said he isn’t retiring from football, just taking care of medical requirements needed to become a physician. The guard plans to reassess both his football interest as well as that of NFL clubs in September.
“I’m going to prioritize medicine ... and we’ll see in September if there’s a fit,” Duvernay-Tardif said in a telephone interview. “After eight years in the NFL, and I don’t want to sound pretentious by saying this, but I think I’ve earned the right to do what’s best for me and not just for football and kind of bet on myself a little bit.
“I’m really comfortable with the risk, and I’m pretty confident there’s going to be an offer on the table in September if I want it. And if I want it I’ll take it. If medicine is going well and I feel like I’ve got to be out there in front of 80,000 people to play the sport I love, well, I’ll go, but I think I want it to be more on my terms.”
The Los Angeles Chargers tight end has been participating throughout the offseason program as he prepares for the upcoming season.
Parham resumed offseason training in early March, less than three months after being taken off the field on a stretcher during the first quarter of a Dec. 16 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Yeah. It was perfect timing. I came back, dove right in, and felt great,” Parham said. “I’m just taking advantage of every moment that I have back. After everything that happened, it feels good to be back, for sure.”
On a fourth-and-goal play, Parham got his hands on a 5-yard pass from Justin Herbert in the back of the end zone, but he dropped the ball when the back of his head slammed into the ground.
Around the NFL
Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is officially done at NBC Sports. Brees signed a multi-year contract with NBC in 2020 and was the analyst for Notre Dame games with Mike Tirico and in the studio on most Sundays for “Football Night in America.”
NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua told The Associated Press that Brees will not be returning to the network.
“The unbelievable busyness of an NFL career and then really not taking a break at all and launching right in with us with both Notre Dame football and the NFL, it was certainly an around-the-clock assignment. This was definitely a lifestyle choice for him, which is totally understandable.”
Bevacqua said that conversations with Brees have centered around him wanting to spend more time with his family.
The contract includes $75 million guaranteed and is worth $110 million over the five years of the deal, sources said. It’s the highest amount of guaranteed money ever given to an NFL wide receiver.
Cooper Kupp narrowly beat out Tyreek Hill for the most guaranteed money ever given to an NFL wide reciever.
In a video tweeted out by the Rams, Kupp expressed his excitement over the deal.
“Really glad to be coming back to Los Angeles and be here in the long haul,” he said. “This is going to be an incredible ride. Can’t wait to get back at it.”
Last season, Kupp led the league with 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns during the regular season. He also caught two touchdowns in Super Bowl LVI and was named MVP of the game. He became the fourth player since the 1970 merger to lead the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
With the start of minicamps this week came the first appearances of the new Guardian Cap, an extra soft-shell pad worn over players’ helmets that was designed to decrease the amount of force received from head contact and hopefully lower the number of concussion injuries usually seen during the lead-up to the season.
The NFL passed a resolution requiring the use of the Guardian Caps during the Annual League Meeting in March, mandating that they must be worn by players at certain positions during the period of time between the start of training camp and the second preseason game. The NFL says that the caps can reduce the force from head contact by 10% if one player is wearing it, and 20% if all players involved are wearing them. This is a significant move in the NFL’s efforts to decrease avoidable head contact, which can lead to concussions and other head injuries.
Derek Carr was already coming off the best season of his career (especially considering the tremendous adversity Vegas faced) and a playoff appearance when the Raiders hired one of the NFL’s most accomplished offensive minds in Josh McDaniels. Then came Christmas in March: the bombshell trade for Davante Adams, merely the best wide receiver in football. Carr and Adams were wildly productive college teammates at Fresno State, and Adams should be the elite target who can take some of the attention off tight end Darren Waller.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Hardman’s prior role
Compared to Hill, Hardman’s use has been limited throughout his career. While Hill consistently played 85-90% of the offense’s snaps, Hardman would have greater variance; depending on the game, his use could range from 30% to 70% of the snaps.
But this condensed playing time was also coupled with efficient production — specifically down the stretch of the 2021 season.
What shouldn't change is the different ways the #Chiefs stress defenses horizontally w/ Mecole's speed— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) June 8, 2022
Jet sweeps, shallow crossers, quick screens are all concepts they hammered down the stretch last yr to maximize Hardman pic.twitter.com/VJmV40kEgg
With defenses constantly trying to contain Hill (and other vertically explosive plays from other receivers), the Chiefs maximized Hardman’s speed horizontally. Whether or not he was getting the ball, he was consistently used on pre-snap motions in which he ran jet-sweep actions. The Chiefs also used him for quick throws to the outside (or on shallow crossing routes) to stress opposing defense sideline-to-sideline rather than end-zone-to-end-zone.
Hardman’s target share reflects that kind of usage: Per PFF, 74% of his 2021 targets came within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. In fact, only three other NFL players had more targets behind the line of scrimmage — and on those plays, Hardman averaged 12 yards per reception.
A tweet to make you think
The #Chiefs continue to work toward a new deal with Orlando Brown Jr–and while he may not be the top left tackle in football he's the best option they have. Meaning he's going to get a big payday. #APEditorsShow@pgsween | @Arrowheadphones pic.twitter.com/ZXXpp6SLGa— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) June 8, 2022