In his first day of offseason workouts, the veteran wide receiver met with reporters for the first time since the AFC championship loss to Kansas City, where he suffered a deep thigh bruise early in the second quarter of the 23-20 loss. Boyd said he would have finished the game if he was at least 80% healthy.
He said what bothered him the most was the feeling that he let the team down.
“Still to this day, I feel like if I would have played the whole game, I was the key factor,” Boyd said. “We would’ve won the game.”
At the time of the injury, Boyd had two catches for 40 yards. He appeared to suffer the injury following a 24-yard completion. At the end of a big gain, Boyd’s left leg was caught beneath Kansas City safety Justin Reid as Reid made the tackle. When Boyd stood up following the play, he immediately favored his left leg.
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes won his second league MVP award on the way to leading his Kansas City Chiefs to another Super Bowl title last year. He should keep that red-hot pace up, although it will be tough for him to top 2022’s 5,250-yard, 41-touchdown passing performance.
While Mahomes didn’t experience a fall-off after top target Tyreek Hill was traded away last offseason, he did lose a few key pass-catchers from last year’s squad. Both JuJu Smith Schuster—who was responsible for 933 yards and three touchdowns on 78 receptions—and Mecole Hardman, who had a career-best 59-catch, 693-yard, two-touchdown campaign, exited in free agency.
The team didn’t make any high-profile additions on the open market, but is instead hoping to see growth from young wideouts like Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore when they step into more prominent roles. Second-round rookie Rashee Rice should also be in the mix due to his blend of size, speed and ball skills.
Despite the inexperience in this receiving corps, Mahomes should have little issues maximizing their talents while also leaning on reliable tight end Travis Kelce heavily each week. Expect the 27-year-old to keep the Chiefs atop the list of Super Bowl favorites all year while posting his usual big numbers for as long as Kelce remains playing a superstar level.
Projection: 66 percent completion rate, 4,892 passing yards, 38 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 55 carries, 325 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs: Matt Nagy
Will a familiar face keep the Chiefs offense afloat despite personnel changes?
There’s no acclimation process here. Nagy has been here, done that, helping to develop Patrick Mahomes into the force that he is today before leaving to become Bears head coach in 2018. Nagy returned to Kansas City as quarterbacks coach last season and helped the Chiefs win another Super Bowl and Mahomes another MVP title.
So, Nagy simply reclaims a familiar role following Eric Bieniemy’s departure to Washington. The challenge is further developing Mahomes’ young wide receivers and running backs, honing a run game in need of greater consistency to ease pressure on the quarterback.
Wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman left via free agency, as did left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. So Nagy and Andy Reid have some roles to redefine on the roster around their quarterback.
2. CHRIS JONES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Jones may be on his way to surpassing Donald as the top interior defender in the NFL. His 92.3 PFF grade in 2022 was the best in the league at the position. With a career-high 97 pressures from 741 pass-rushing snaps, including the playoffs, Jones has established himself as a formidable force in the trenches.
2. The Chiefs are looking to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since the Patriots in 2004-2005. They’re coming off a 38-35 shootout win over the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, their second title in four seasons.
3. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is coming off his second NFL MVP award and fifth straight AFC Championship appearance. He’s also thrown at least 37 touchdowns in four of his five years as a starter.
Among tight ends with 80 or more run-blocking snaps in 2022, Fortson managed the eighth-highest run-blocking grade in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Over 60% of his run-blocking snaps came on zone running schemes, while just under 20% of his snaps came on gap/power schemes.
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During a Browns charity golf tournament, Watson hinted that he’s informed Cleveland’s front office that he would like for the team to make a run at Hopkins.
“That’s kind of out of my range of things,” Watson said. “All I can do is make a call and see what happens.”
Hopkins had been representing himself but has hired Klutch Sports to represent him.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
But the Hopkins-Chiefs conversations were already ongoing, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Kansas City reportedly attempted to trade for the 30-year-old before he hit the open market — but the Baltimore Ravens’ $15 million guaranteed contract for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. changed everything.
“The Cardinals were giving any teams who wanted to talk to Hopkins permission to do so.,” wrote Breer. “Two teams that got such permission, the Chiefs and Bills, spoke to Hopkins and [Saint] Omni (Hopkins’ representation), and those two were the only two that engaged Arizona in trade talks. So the interest in giving up a pick or two to get Hopkins was pretty tepid...
“Kansas City made progress toward a deal, but things went a little sideways when Odell Beckham Jr. got $15 million in base pay from Baltimore, making Hopkins feel like he should land at least that much, given that Beckham didn’t play last year.”
Later in his writeup, Breer notes that the Chiefs offered Hopkins a deal similar to the one they gave left tackle Donovan Smith — a contract loaded with incentives to keep Kansas City in a good salary cap position. Arrowhead Pride estimates the Chiefs have about $1.1 million in 2023 cap space, a number that should drop by about $240,000 once wide receiver Rashee Rice signs his rookie deal.