“Especially at the quarterback position, the next guy is the highest-paid guy. Any of these top-tier quarterbacks, they make such a difference on NFL football teams that [older contracts are] going to get passed up.’’
Mahomes said he is expecting the $45 million average salary from his extension to sink even further in the rankings once quarterbacks such as Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson sign extensions with their teams.
“They’ll keep setting the bar even higher,’’ Mahomes said. “You always want to get paid and take care of your family, but I want a great team around me as well.’’
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs spared no expense in money or draft capital to repair their offensive line after it collapsed in Super Bowl LV, and they were overjoyed by the results in 2021. Rookie Creed Humphrey’s blown block rate of 0.5% was the lowest in the NFL among starting centres. Both Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith were named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie team.
Free-agent acquisitions Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown Jr., meanwhile, brought stability to a line that finished fourth in the NFL in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate and eighth in adjusted line yards. Brown is in a contract kerfuffle entering training camp, so that is something to watch as we get closer to the season. Right tackle is the only position up for grabs. Lucas Niang started last season at right tackle but battled shoulder, rib and knee injuries. Andrew Wylie was adequate in relief of Niang in 2021, but is much better suited to backing up both guards.
1. Who is the No. 1 wide receiver now that Tyreek Hill is gone? The Chiefs are going to be fine at the wide receiver position with Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman and Moore. Travis Kelce is the No. 1 pass target, but which of these receivers will emerge as Mahomes’ top wideout?
Smith-Schuster is more than ideal for the slot and should thrive catching passes in Reid’s offense. Valdes-Scantling and Hardman are more suited for deep passes, though Hardman could emerge as a reliable pass catcher with more targets in Year 4. Moore will get to learn on the fly and has the potential to be a WR1 down the road, but it’s unfair to put that burden on him immediately.
Kelce and Smith-Schuster appear suited to be the top pass catchers. Will Kansas City match the production Hill brought over the past six seasons? Don’t bet against Mahomes with more options available in the passing game — something the Chiefs sorely lacked last year.
AFC West: Can the Broncos Go from Worst to First with the Addition of Russell Wilson?
Even in a tough AFC West division, the Denver Broncos have a good chance to go from worst in 2021 to first in 2022.
The Kansas City Chiefs traded a dynamic weapon in Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, which may level the offensive playing field within the division. Not only that, as a more accomplished quarterback than Justin Herbert and Derek Carr, Wilson can make a huge difference in tight games late in the season.
Head coach Nathaniel Hackett will go all-in with Wilson; he’s going to “Let Russ Cook” in Denver.
“It’s all about the command of the system,” Hackett said. “We want to build this thing completely around him and make sure that he’s comfortable and watch him come alive.”
With arguably four top-10 quarterbacks within the division, including one who many pundits rank No. 1 overall (Mahomes), Colin Cowherd this week went out on a historical limb and said that the AFC West is the best quarterback division in league history.
Cowherd pointed to the fact that Mahomes has the highest passer rating of all time, Wilson has the most wins of any QB through their first 10 seasons, Herbert has the most passing yards and TDs over a signal-caller’s first two seasons, and Carr leads the NFL in fourth-quarter comebacks since entering the league in 2014.
“It’s pretty remarkable in my life that it’s the greatest, most talented quarterback division ever — and it’s not close,” Cowherd said. “There’s never been four elite quarterbacks, ever in my life, elite quarterbacks [in the same division].”
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Los Angeles placed Ramsey on the physically unable to perform list Friday, indicating that when the Rams rookies and veterans report for camp Saturday, their All-Pro cornerback teammate will not be ready to return from the shoulder procedure he had earlier this offseason.
The news of Ramsey’s surgery was first reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on June 21, who added Ramsey had been playing with tears in both shoulders throughout Los Angeles’ Super Bowl-winning season. Ramsey later posted a photo on Instagram showing him wearing a sling on his left shoulder post-surgery.
“He’s doing good. He’s been attacking the rehab the right way. He’s feeling good,” head coach Sean McVay said of Ramsey during a press conference Friday afternoon. “When we did do that surgery on him, obviously most importantly was how he felt about it, but then with the goal in mind of, alright, attack the rehab the right way, and most importantly, be ready for Sept. 8, ready to go. So we’ll be smart about that progress for him.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“I haven’t been able to play in front of these fans yet,” he declared, “so I’m going to be really excited and bring a lot of juice for these fans, for sure.”
As he enters his first professional training camp, the Washington Huskies product said he recognizes the importance of the experience — even beyond the X’s and O’s.
“A big thing obviously is just learning the plays — making sure I have everything down,” McDuffie explained. “I think a big thing for me is just bonding with the DB’s — with the whole defense — so we can all come together. There [are] a lot of new moving parts, so we kind of get to establish a new identity — which is going to be a lot of fun.”
McDuffie also said that as he prepares for his rookie season, some veteran players — both inside and outside his position group — have helped him with the team’s playbook.
“Definitely [safety] Juan Thornhill,” he said. “But [linebackers] Willie Gay and Nick Bolton have been huge, too — as linebackers controlling the whole defense. Just listening to them — listening to their little critiques — even when I’m on the field. I may make a mistake. But [when] I come off the field, they tell me what [to] do and I can fix it up the next day. It’s been really awesome playing with guys like that.