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Arrowheadlines: Kadarius Toney is just getting started

Chiefs headlines for Saturday, February 25

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Syndication: Arizona Republic Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The latest

One Patrick Mahomes pass from Super Bowl amazed Kurt Warner | The Kansas City Star

It was the very first pass Mahomes threw in the third quarter. Do you remember? Mahomes was being pressured by Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis but managed to complete an 11-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce.

Warner, a two-time MVP and Super Bowl champion, simply couldn’t fathom how Mahomes completed the pass.

“I want to show you this from the end zone,” Warner said. “I want you to watch the head of Patrick Mahomes. Look at his head, his head is facing this way while he’s trying to get away from the defender right here, Davis right there.

“You guys tell me: how does he see Travis Kelce coming across the field here where his eyes don’t turn until right there? I mean, this is the kind of stuff that Patrick Mahomes does that you just sit there and shake your head like I don’t even know how stuff like this as possible.”

Kansas City-area woman uses Chiefs signs to help pay off student lunch debt | 41 KSHB

When the Chiefs won the AFC Championship and punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, LeAnne Stowe, owner of Annie’s Barn, was awaiting T-shirts for her store. But instead, she decided to make signs to sell.

They turned out to be a hit.

“I was just taken aback by how popular they were,” Stowe said. “We created this sign. This is my 1972 Chevy. It’s gold.”

It’s also adorned with the phrase, “Get in Winners, We’re Going Winning,” a pop culture take on the team’s winning spree.

Stowe was inspired by Kansas Rep. Allison Hougland, who had just paid off all the lunch debts in the elementary schools in her district, so she thought why not do the same?

First was Pawnee Elementary where her wife went to school.

“We did Pawnee, full $2,019,” Stowe said. “I took a check last week to Mission Valley Elementary in Eskridge, Kansas, and that was in the $350 range.”

2023 NFL free agency mock draft: Derek Carr to Commanders, Jimmy Garoppolo to Dolphins, plus 30 other moves | CBS Sports

20. Chiefs: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

The rich get richer. Beckham’s market is unpredictable considering his injury history, but at full speed, he’s still a legit weapon as a route-runner and downfield threat. K.C., meanwhile, may have something spicy in Kadarius Toney but can never have enough toys for Patrick Mahomes and Co., especially with JuJu Smith-Schuster heading elsewhere in this exercise.

Why there’s ‘no limit’ for WR Kadarius Toney in Kansas City | FOX Sports

Mahomes did wonders for Smith-Schuster, who went from playing five games with 15 catches, 129 receiving years and zero touchdowns with the Steelers in 2021 to 16 games with 78 catches, 933 yards and three touchdowns in 2022 with Kansas City. That’s the kind of production uptick that the Chiefs want to see with Toney. And it’s not crazy to think he can do it. Smith-Schuster is a pending free agent in a weak market of receivers — he might be the top option. If he leaves, that would put Toney in line for a big promotion.

“With the athletic ability that is obvious to everybody, the sky’s the limit for him as a receiver,” Chiefs receivers coach Joe Bleymaier told FOX Sports earlier this month. “When you get him [in a trade] in-season, our main focus was just getting him comfortable and getting him to be able to operate. He’s so smart and has such a good memory that he was able to pick everything up quick. So he got comfortable with the offense very quickly. And then it was just about managing the load and where he fit in with all the other pieces midseason.”

It wasn’t the easiest acclimation process, with Toney missing three weeks due to a hamstring injury. He also battled knee and ankle issues in the playoffs. He didn’t play more than 44% of offensive snaps in any single game, including the postseason. In the Super Bowl, Toney played just six offensive snaps, the fewest among the five Kansas City receivers who played. He didn’t find his way to the top of the depth chart.

Chiefs kicker Butker in week of silent prayer after Super Bowl | The Kansas City Star

And where is kicker Harrison Butker basking in the glow of the Super Bowl win, which he sealed with a 27-yard field goal in the last seconds of the game?

The devout Catholic is spending the first week of Lent, which began this week on Ash Wednesday, in silent prayer at an abbey in California.

Colm Flynn, a contributor for the Catholic news network, EWTN, interviewed Butker this week at St. Michael’s Abbey, a monastery in Orange County, California.

“So while the other guys, they go, I don’t know, to Vegas apparently, or they go to Disneyland as some of them famously say, or they’re partying, enjoying the win and the sweetness of the Super Bowl, Harrison Butker is taking a week of silent prayer and meditation and reflection in an abbey here in California,” Flynn said on EWTN’s nightly news Thursday.

Around the NFL

Russell Wilson refutes report he asked Seahawks to fire coach Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider |

According to a story published Friday by The Athletic, Wilson’s split from the Seahawks was the result of a power struggle in which Wilson appealed to ownership to fire both coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Wilson lost this battle, prompting Schneider and Carroll to seek a trade for Wilson, per The Athletic.

Wilson responded quickly to the story via Twitter on Friday.

“I love Pete and he was a father figure to me and John believed in me and drafted me as well,” Wilson tweeted. “I never wanted them fired. All any of us wanted was to win.

“I’ll always have respect for them and love for Seattle.”

Sources - All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner, Rams agree to part ways | ESPN

With the Rams approximately $13.7 million over the salary cap heading toward the new league year, according to the Roster Management System, Wagner and the Rams mutually agreed to part ways Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

When Wagner’s release becomes official, the Rams will save $5 million in salary cap space, but they will also incur a $7.5 million dead money charge. The Rams have the option of designating Wagner a post-June 1 release, which would save them $8 million, though that savings can’t be credited to their cap until this summer. If Wagner had remained on the roster on the fifth day of the 2023 league year, his $7.5 million base salary and a $2.5 million roster bonus due in 2024 would have become guaranteed.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs Offseason: Finding the salary-cap space the team now needs

The Chiefs have two major contract decisions looming. Both could actually save cap space for 2023 while committing future dollars.

The first involves left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — who is widely expected to receive a second franchise tag if he and the team cannot agree on a long-term deal. Even if he doesn’t sign it, tagging Brown would instantly count $20 million against the salary cap. This means Kansas City will need to do much of their salary cap lifting before applying the tag.

After paying almost $17 million salary for Brown’s first season on the tag, the Chiefs may prefer a multiyear contract — one that has a low first-year cap hit. But doing so would commit significant future salary. That’s exactly the situation Kansas City now faces with its last franchise-tagged player.

After receiving the tag in 2020, defensive tackle Chris Jones signed a four-year contract worth $85 million. Now entering the last year of that agreement, Jones finds himself with enviable leverage. In 2022, Jones was named a first-team All-Pro — and helped catapult the Chiefs into the Super Bowl with arguably his best career performance against the Bengals.

Jones’ cap number for 2023 is over $28 million. That includes a $19.5 million base salary. The Chiefs could roll up to $18.3 million of his salary into a new signing bonus, spreading it out over an extended contract. Since Jones is Kansas City’s best defensive player and is entering a contract year, both sides should have motivation for an extension — although a year ago, a naïve writer (who looked something like me) made a similar prediction before the Chiefs traded wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

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