While all this talent was entering the division, the Chiefs saw a bit of a talent drain. They traded receiver Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins and elected to let safety Tyrann Mathieu walk in free agency. Those two were some of the key pillars to what made the Chiefs Super Bowl champions in 2019, so this is something of a new era for Kansas City.
Of course, Mahomes still has tight end Travis Kelce to work with and the team did bring in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore at receiver. That said, there will likely be some sort of growing pains as these new pieces find their footing.
Because the rest of the division got better, that also makes the road through the regular season quite difficult for the Chiefs. Based on projected win totals, the Chiefs have the hardest schedule in the NFL in 2022. Again, this doesn’t mean that they won’t make the playoffs or fail to win the AFC West, but it’s no longer a slam dunk.
2. Watching Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes duel again
Speaking of the Bills’ playoff loss to the Chiefs, they’ll get a chance at revenge in Week 6.
There was no more heartbreaking loss last season than this one, when the Bills were 13 seconds away from victory before Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes things. We all know the rest of the story: the Bills lost the coin toss and didn’t get the ball again, and now the overtime rules are changed.
But the controversial ending overshadowed just how fun the QB duel was. Allen finished 27 of 37 for 329 yards and four touchdowns, while Mahomes was 33 of 44 for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Neither player turned the ball over. It was an absolute masterclass, and I can’t wait to see the rematch on Oct. 16.
DT · Year 7
With the offense breaking in new faces, let’s look at the defensive side of the ball. Jones is the keystone player for the Chiefs’ D. After the failed experiment with the DT on the edge last season, Jones proved how vital he is in wrecking opposing offenses from the interior down the stretch as the K.C. defense coalesced. Since 2018, Jones ranks second among all interior linemen with 41.0 sacks and 257 pressures, behind only Aaron Donald. The Chiefs continue to have questions at edge rusher, making Jones’ presence much more vital. The 27-year-old owns the potential to be a game-wrecking difference-maker in a rugged AFC West.
Orlando Brown, OT, Chiefs
There wasn’t any doubt that the Chiefs were going to franchise Brown for $16.662 million. The Chiefs couldn’t risk Brown potentially being a one-year rental by becoming a free agent given the draft capital required to obtain him from the Ravens shortly before the 2021 NFL Draft.
Brown forced a trade because he wanted to be a left tackle, which wasn’t possible in Baltimore because of All-Pro Ronnie Stanley. The Chiefs gave up their 2021 first-round pick (31st overall), a 2021 third-round pick, a 2022 fourth pick and a 2022 fifth-round selection to the Ravens for Brown, a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 sixth-round pick.
Brown validated his move from right tackle to left tackle with a selection to the Pro Bowl last season. The Chiefs are likely going to join the ranks of teams paying a premium financially when a long-term deal for a player who had remaining time on his contract isn’t done in connection with a trade involving significant draft capital.
Brown, who recently hired Michael Portner of the Delta Sports Group as his new agent, has expressed optimism about his signing. Any long-term deal will surely put Brown in the $20 million-per-year offensive lineman club, which currently has three members. Left tackles Trent Williams, David Bakhtiari and Laremy Tunsil have deals with the 49ers, Packers and Texans, averaging $23.01 million, $23 million and $22 million per year, respectively.
Does it motivate you to be a part of this AFC West quarterback group? Carr: Oh, absolutely. We want to play against the best. These guys are great. I know I have to raise my game as well. It’s going to be a really tough division and conference as well. But we just need to go out there and get it done, You know me, I’m always excited for the season and this year is going to be great. I’m ready to go.
Around the NFL
Morgan, who was born in Las Vegas, comes to the Raiders after previously serving as chairwoman and executive director of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. She has also served as the director of external affairs for AT&T Services Inc. in southern Nevada and as a litigation attorney for an international gaming and hospitality company.
“I am thrilled that Sandra has agreed to join the Raiders family,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “Her experience, integrity and passion for this community will be invaluable to our organization. From the moment I met Sandra, I knew she was a force to be reckoned with. We are extremely lucky to have her at the helm.”
Morgan, who was the first person of color to chair the Nevada Gaming Control Board, is the third woman and third Black person to become president of an NFL team.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The excitement of the Chiefs’ offensive line usually comes by listing off every player besides Andrew Wylie. It has been easy to take the fifth-year offensive lineman for granted, but he could be the Week 1 starter at right tackle — and maybe that’s the best outcome in their current situation.
After playing either right guard or left guard for his first two seasons in Kansas City, he was thrown into the right tackle spot down the stretch of 2020; in 2021, he was the team’s snap leader for the position, starting all but one game from Week 10 forward.
Wylie held his own against some fierce competition in that stretch. Las Vegas Raiders’ left defensive end Maxx Crosby didn’t tally a sack in either game against the Chiefs, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt didn’t record a sack or quarterback hit in Week 16, primarily playing over Wylie.
With the intrigue of the big-bodied players like the rookie Darian Kinnard or Lucas Niang — who is currently recovering from a torn patellar tendon — Wylie’s experience in the system may outweigh the strengths of both competing players, and that might be comforting to the quarterback with a lot of news faces to deal with in his receiving corps.