LB · Age: 23
APY: $1.46 million (rookie contract; 72nd among linebackers).
Only one player (Jacksonville’s Foye Oluokun) had more regular-season tackles than the 180 registered by Bolton, who set a single-season franchise record in that category. The 2021 second-rounder also logged nine games with double-digit tackles. Computer vision shows that his 2022 closing speed and angle (reflecting the last yard traveled and how squarely he made contact) was in the top 86th percentile of all LBs in the past eight seasons. NGS shows he allowed 3.7 yards after the catch per reception last season, the fourth-lowest mark among LBs.
Underpaid running back: Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs
A seventh-round pick last year, Pacheco emerged as the starting running back for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. He’s set to make less than $900,000 this season and looking to capitalize on a season in which he finished with 960 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.
While discussing the team, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky mentioned the unique position the Jets found themselves in this season.
“I think the Jets are in this very unique space,” said Orlovsky. “There’s two teams that I think are the most equipped to beat Kansas City, because that’s what this season is about. One is Buffalo … and the two are the New York Jets. Those are 1-2 to knock off Kansas City to go back to the Super Bowl.”
As Mahomes continues to chase greatness, he named his five greatest quarterbacks of all time while speaking with Ben Felderstein of Complex Sports:
“Yeah, I mean, you got to say Tom [Brady’s] 1, but if you talk about the legends of the game, Tom, Peyton Manning, obviously Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana, and then it gets down to Dan Marino or John Elway to round off your top five. But I mean there’s some great quarterbacks that played this game, man, I’m trying to learn from them because even though the game has progressed, there’s still stuff in the past that helps you become a better quarterback.”
Brady spent 23 seasons in the NFL, mainly with the New England Patriots before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and retiring after the 2022 campaign. He won seven Super Bowls, three MVPs and two Offensive Player of the Year awards, among various other accolades.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chris Jones
Jones is due for a contract extension after a monster 2022 season, with one year left on his current deal that has a base salary of $19.5 million with no guaranteed money, according to Over the Cap. Jones played better than Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald last season, but the Kansas City tackle likely won’t match Donald’s average annual salary of $31.6 million. Jones, however, does have a strong case to match Jeffery Simmons’s new deal, a four-year, $94 million contract extension with the Titans. Jones is turning 29 in July, but he’s also coming off a career season in which he earned a 92.3 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus.
Around the NFL
Winner: Player safety
Think what you will about whether the NFL truly prioritizes player health as a whole, but there’s little denying the new rules will reduce the possibility of violent collisions. The league first began incentivizing non-returns on kickoffs by moving touchbacks from the 20 to the 25 in 2016, but this addition doubles down on that approach. Will every returner embrace the built-in advantage? Of course not. But over time, it’s easy to see why this could — and should — remove some of the game’s biggest moments of contact.
The team had been scheduled for an OTA on Thursday, the first to be attended by reporters this offseason, but the club announced Wednesday that it had been canceled.
Thursday’s OTA, in addition to another next week, were taken away as part of the violation, according to sources. It wasn’t immediately known what the specific violation was.
This week marks the start of the third and final phase of the Patriots’ offseason program, which allows the team a total of 10 OTAs. There is no live contact permitted in OTAs, among other rules as part of Article 21 of the collective bargaining agreement.
The Bills released Araiza prior to the 2022 season after allegations emerged that he was involved in a gang rape during a party at San Diego State in 2021. It was announced in December that he wouldn’t face criminal charges in the case.
Earlier this month, Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports reported that a 200-plus-page transcript of a meeting between prosecutors, the accuser and her lawyers reveal that prosecutors determined that Araiza was no longer present at the party when the alleged assault occurred. ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg reported last Friday that SDSU concluded there were “no findings” against Arazia after an investigation into the matter.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Reports suggested that this change had been opposed by a significant number of the league’s special-teams coaches — and on Monday, it appeared that there wasn’t enough support for the rule change to pass. But it has been reported that on Monday night, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “lobbied hard” for the change — and in Tuesday’s vote, the proposal got one more vote than it needed for adoption.
Speaking after Wednesday’s OTA session at the team’s practice facility, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid made it pretty clear about how he felt.
“I don’t know,” he told reporters. “We’ll have to go through all that. My thing is, ‘Where does it stop?’ Right?
“So you start taking pieces [away] — and we’ll see how this goes — but you don’t want to take too many pieces away. You’ll be playing flag football.”
A tweet to make you think
At SB54, the Chiefs' Special Teams had a big role in their overall game plan. They persistently made the 49ers have unfavourable starting positions, simply by kicking the ball short of the endzone and covering.— Tom Childs (@tomchilds56) May 23, 2023
That type of gameplan is now not possible thanks to these rules. https://t.co/4NMOhKySGJ