1. Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes’ 10-year $450 million extension in 2020 made him the highest-paid football player in history. His total contractual value remains the greatest in the league today. The Kansas City Chiefs redefined the quarterback market with their behemoth offer to Mahomes, and the Broncos’ new deal with Wilson is just the most recent domino to fall in the pattern of high-dollar contracts that followed. Unfortunately for Denver, their deal with Wilson, and the immediate successes and/or failures they have, will be directly compared to that of the Chiefs as AFC West rivals.
While Wilson’s deal is worth roughly $4 million more per year than Mahomes’, what makes the Mahomes contract look like a steal in comparison is his recent success. The Chiefs were in a position of luxury in the sense that they were able to set the bar for a total value of a generationally talented quarterback in today’s game, and since they’ve offered Patrick Mahomes his deal, they have enjoyed persistent winning.
Mahomes is a steal.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 1, 2022
Dubin: Chiefs. Like every other internet football writer, I love the Chargers. But I’m also not picking against Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid winning this division, until somebody else actually wins the division.
McCarriston: Chiefs. The AFC West is expected to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, with four teams that could make the playoffs. The Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos all have solid quarterbacks in Derek Carr, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson, respectively, and it is hard to pick against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill this offseason to the Miami Dolphins, but with an experienced coach and quarterback, along with an all-around experienced team, they will find ways to make up for the loss.
Benjamin: Chargers. They have no excuses, on paper, not to overtake the Chiefs. Justin Herbert is MVP material, and now he’s got elite help all around.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is a fascinating team in 2022.
By no means are we saying Tyreek Hill’s departure will “expose” Patrick Mahomes. We are, however, curious to see the Chiefs adjust to life without Hill, whose dynamic skill set created some incredible stress on defenses as they needed to contain tight end Travis Kelce too.
Also, the defense overcame a miserable start to 2021 and sparked KC’s midseason surge. But in such a loaded AFC West—plus clashes with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bills, Rams and Bengals—can the Chiefs avoid a drop-off this season?
Kansas City has a doable yet challenging path to an eighth consecutive 10-win season under Andy Reid.
Projected Record: 10-7
Josh Gordon didn’t have to wait long to find a new home after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday.
The Chiefs signed Gordon to their practice squad last September after the NFL reinstated him following an indefinite suspension eight months earlier for violating terms of his conditional reinstatement.
Kansas City promoted Gordon to the active roster prior to a Week 5 game against the Buffalo Bills. The 31-year-old appeared in 12 games during the regular season, recording 32 yards and one touchdown on five catches. He didn’t play in the postseason.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Chiefs
Tepid interest in free agency led Smith-Schuster to return to Pittsburgh on a one-year “prove-it” deal worth $8 million last season. He was reportedly looking for more than $15 million per year on the open market.
Smith-Schuster wasn’t proving very much when a left shoulder injury sidelined him for the regular season after five games. He had 15 receptions for 129 yards without any touchdowns in those games. Smith-Schuster returned for a wild card playoff game against the Chiefs in which he had five catches for 26 yards.
There was less interest in Smith-Schuster during free agency this year than in 2021. He signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Chiefs worth up to $10.75 million through incentives. The Chiefs recently modified his contract so he can earn an additional $510,000 because his $510,000 of per-game roster bonuses ($30,000 for each game active) were increased to $1.02 million ($60,000 for each game active).
Smith-Schuster has a tremendous opportunity in Kansas City since there isn’t an established No. 1 wide receiver with Tyreek Hill’s trade to the Dolphins. He could be positioned for the big payday that’s eluded him in free agency next March with a highly productive 2022 season.
Kansas City Chiefs
Why they will: For the second consecutive offseason, the Chiefs front office addressed their weaknesses. The team added extensive wide receiver depth, speed in the secondary, and improved the pass rush with Carlos Dunlap and rookie George Karlaftis. Oh, and the combo of Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid has hosted four consecutive AFC Championships.
Why they won’t: The Chiefs have arguably the toughest schedule in the NFL, and generally had great injury luck in 2021. While the wide receiver room has more talent collectively, the loss of Tyreek Hill will almost certainly be felt this season. The inconsistency of last year’s defense also remains a concern with multiple rookies playing key roles.
Around the NFL
2. Micah Parsons wins Defensive Player of the Year
Parsons was one of 17 players who reached double-digit sacks in the regular season last year. On average, those players had 452 opportunities to rush the passer. Parsons? He had just 286! That was 74 fewer than any other player who produced double-digit sacks.
If we look at sack percentage, only T.J. Watt and Robert Quinn were better. If we look at Pro Football Focus’s pressure percentage, Parsons was easily first at 22.4 percent. No other player was above 16.6 percent.
Bottom line: Parsons was a monster when he rushed the passer last year. He should get more opportunities to do it this year. A season in which he leads the NFL in sacks, forced fumbles, and tackles for loss is in play.
Wilson agreed to terms on a five-year extension with the Denver Broncos through the 2028 season, the team announced Thursday. Wilson’s new deal is worth $245 million and includes $165 million guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources.
The quarterback had two seasons remaining on his deal signed in Seattle, so the extension ties him to Denver for the next seven years.
“For me, this has been an amazing journey. I remember being up on the stage not too long ago and talking about the visions and the goals and the missions, and I think the best part of it all is when you’re around some amazing people, amazing teammates who are so dedicated to the craft, it makes this that much more enjoyable,” Wilson said in a Thursday news conference. “I believe this is a marriage, and you want to be here for a long time, and my goal is to be able to finish my career here.”
He has been released from custody after posting a $30,000 bond but was not present in the open portion of Saints practice on Thursday.
Maye’s attorney, Eric Hessler, denied the allegations in a statement obtained by NFL Network on Thursday.
“Marcus vehemently denies the allegation from a motor vehicle incident, and looks forward to defending himself when all the facts come out,” the statement said.
According to a news release from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, “Maye was identified as the driver of a black SUV that was involved in an incident in which he is accused of pointing a firearm at another vehicle that was occupied by several juvenile females.”
Landry led the Titans with a career-high 12 sacks last season, making him the first Titans pass-rusher with double-digit sacks since Brian Orakpo had 10.5 in 2015.
Seven of Landry’s 12 sacks came on third down, which was third-best among all pass-rushers. Landry also finished with 49 quarterback pressures, 22 quarterback hits, 21 quarterback hurries and 14 tackles for loss.
The Titans and star running back Derrick Henry have agreed to a reworked contract that increases his pay to $14 million million this season, including $9 million in a signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
It represents a raise of $2 million as he was set to make $12 million this season before his contract was restructured. He is still scheduled to become a free agent after this season.
Landry’s three sacks in the divisional round of the 2021 playoffs were a part of the Titans’ postseason record-tying nine sacks in a single game. He was one of three Titans to be named to the Pro Bowl last season.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“We’ve been working for almost four-and-a-half years — pretty diligently and consistently — on this issue,“ said Chiefs president Mark Donovan at his Thursday news conference. “We’re strong believers in the benefits of legalized sports betting for our fans — and also the financial impact it can have on the states that legalize it. We’re really excited that Kansas has officially legalized sports betting. The government [and] politicians — the folks in charge — have accelerated the timeline to be able to launch today.
“With that, we’re excited also to announce that we have formed partnerships with BetMGM and DraftKings to be official partners with our organization and create really unique ways for Chiefs Kingdom to activate and for our fans in the state of Kansas to enhance their experience in being a fan of this great team.”