2021 rank: 6 | 2020 rank: 1
It’s a long way from the top for the Chiefs, who are in the middle of retooling their offense. Travis Kelce stands out as the difference-maker and would still be the favorite to emerge as 2022’s TE1, with age as the only obvious concern for the seven-time Pro Bowler. He turns 33 in October, which has been a drop-off point for stars in the past. The only tight end over 32 to produce a 1,000-yard season was Pete Retzlaff, who did it for the 1965 Philadelphia Eagles. I would bet on Kelce being the second, but his prior dominance can’t be treated as a guarantee.
Former Chiefs offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz, who last week announced his retirement, was stunned when Hill was dealt to the Miami Dolphins.
But Schwartz soon realized why the deal made sense for the Chiefs, particularly after they signed wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
“My first reaction was like total shock and surprise. I didn’t know that that (trade) was in the works, I didn’t realize that that was even on the realm of possibilities,” Schwartz said Wednesday on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” “The more I thought about it, it kind of made sense, especially when you’ve got a quarterback who’s gonna have a cap number of 40, 50 million (dollars) here soon. You’ve got Chris Jones that you’re paying, Joe Thuney that you’re paying, Frank Clark’s cap number you’ve got, some other guys as well.
“You kind of have to pick and choose. And is one receiver going to change the dynamic of the offense that incredibly, especially when you’ve already got a guy like (tight end Travis) Kelce? And so I think the idea there is don’t pay top market value to a receiver who, as good as he has been, and as fast as he is, is getting to the other side of 30. Kind of diversify the receiver room, get some bigger guys as well. That’s one thing, the Chiefs have had for the most part a lot of kind of faster, smaller guys. I know for quarterbacks, they like those big catch radiuses, so you get a guy like JuJu and you get MVS in there, tall, rangy, guys who can go snag it.”
Mecole Hardman and Juan Thornhill can raise their free-agent market value for the 2023 offseason with strong campaigns in starting roles. The former should see more targets following the departure of All-Pro wideout Tyreek Hill. The latter will have a chance to match or top an impressive rookie term in which he allowed a 46.4 percent completion rate and a 43.0 passer rating in coverage.
Rashad Fenton can line up on the boundary or in the slot, which likely hinges upon how the coaching staff employs rookie first-rounder Trent McDuffie. Last year, he recorded seven pass breakups while permitting 8.7 yards per completion, a 68.5 percent completion rate and an 84.0 passer rating. As a sixth-round pick with 11 starts in 42 contests, he’s an under-the-radar defender in the Chiefs secondary.
Khalen Saunders and Nick Allegretti will likely provide depth on the defensive and offensive lines, respectively. The latter filled in adequately as a starting left guard for nine out of 16 outings through the 2020 campaign.
Hardman, Thornhill and Fenton can stick around for the long term. They’ve all had solid stretches of production over the last three years.
For Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, he is much looking forward to once again tagging along with his teammates ahead of the season. He took to Twitter on Thursday with a simple eight-word tweet expressing his enthusiasm for the opening day of training camp.
Report day tomorrow! #ChiefsKingdom Lets get it!!— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) July 21, 2022
Around the NFL
Kyler Murray received his wish, and Arizona has its quarterback under team control for years to come. Murray and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year extension worth $230.5 million, including $160 million in guarantees, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Thursday.
The deal runs through 2028, Murray’s age-31 season, ending any uncertainty under center for the Cardinals and putting Murray in line to sign another whopper of a contract if his performance fits.
In the end, the public conflict between parties paid off for Murray, who is now the NFL’s second-highest paid player on a per year basis ($46.1 million) just months after scrubbing his social media of any Cardinals references and starting a saga that dragged well into the summer. The dramatic narrative — a slow-burning standoff with significant implications — played out over multiple months, with Murray’s camp releasing a lengthy statement (484 words, to be exact) in February about their stance on the quarterback’s future while reports surfaced from within the team regarding concerns related to Murray’s maturity.
The rings were unveiled in a private ceremony the night before the Rams’ coaching staff is scheduled to report to training camp in Irvine, California.
The top of the ring features the Rams’ logo made up of blue and yellow sapphires, the Lombardi trophy and two palm trees. Under the removable top of the ring there is a view of SoFi Stadium, surrounded by a piece of a Super Bowl LVI game ball. The field underneath the roof is made up of remnants of the SoFi Stadium turf from the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Each ring has approximately 20 carats of white diamonds set on white and yellow gold, to represent the official opening of SoFi Stadium in 2020.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs selected Lynch from the reigning national champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second round (47th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft — the first one in which both AFL and NFL teams participated. The two leagues merged in 1970.
“At that time the money in pro sports wasn’t all that great,” Lynch told LimaOhio.com in 2015, “so I knew I had to begin using that Notre Dame education right away and look for a career beyond football. To be honest, I really couldn’t envision playing much more than three or four years of pro ball.”
But Lynch spent 11 years playing professional football — all of it in Kansas City — before retiring after the 1977 season. In all, he appeared in 151 games — starting 142 of them — including a streak of 148 consecutive games. He collected 17 interceptions, 14 fumbles and 18 sacks. (It should be noted, however, that the league didn’t start keeping track of sacks as an official statistic until 1982. Pro Football Reference believes that it has accounted for nearly all sacks from 1970 until then — but the numbers remain unofficial).
The winner of college football’s Maxwell Award during his senior season in South Bend, Lynch was an AFL All-Star in 1968 and was twice named to the second squad of the Associated Press All-AFL team. He was enshrined in Kansas City’s Ring of Honor in 1990 and the Colege Football Hall of Fame in 1992.