WR Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs
For the second offseason in a row, there’s a lot of opportunity for Kansas City Chiefs receivers to carve out a role in one of the league’s best offenses.
In the first year without Tyreek Hill, it was JuJu Smith-Schuster who took over as the most-targeted non-Travis Kelce receiver for the Chiefs. He garnered 101 targets last season before leaving for the New England Patriots in free agency.
Skyy Moore was expected to be one of the receivers who made an impact last season. The Chiefs used a second-round pick on the Western Michigan receiver, but he was mostly an afterthought in the passing attack.
The 22-year-old finished his rookie year with 22 receptions for 250 yards despite playing in 16 games.
Moving up the target list isn’t going to be easier in 2023. Smith-Schuster is gone. But Justyn Ross has received rave reviews in OTAs, Kadarius Toney came in a midseason trade last year, and the team drafted Rashee Rice in the second round this season.
Moore put in good work at OTAs, and head coach Andy Reid was complimentary of what he’s done so far.
“He looks like he’s on the same page with Patrick. ...In these camps, he’s been doing a real nice job. Let’s keep on advancing as we go, and he’ll do that because he’s wired right,” Reid said, per Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star.
Competition is going to be fierce, and Moore can’t afford to fall behind.
Chiefs: What does the WR room look like?
The defending Super Bowl champions have a ton of wide receivers on the roster, but it remains to be seen how the pecking order will shake out. Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and second-round pick Rashee Rice are the likely top four, but there’s also Richie James and Justyn Ross who could factor into the equation as well. Whom Patrick Mahomes gains a rapport with will be worth monitoring.
Kansas City Chiefs
Storyline to watch: Wide receiver depth chart
The Chiefs have a lot of wide receivers in legitimate competition for playing time and roster spots. Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and rookie Rashee Rice look to be the top four, but there’s room for others to make the team and catch some passes. The real competition begins at training camp, but the Chiefs can begin the process of sorting through their candidates at minicamp. — Adam Teicher
Kelce threw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Cleveland Guardians game in April, and unfortunately it resembled more of a football spike than an actual pitch.
The ball hit the grass in front of the batter’s box and shot past Guardians pitcher Shane Bieber, who was tasked with catching the pitch. Instead, Bieber scrambled out of the way of the pitch.
“Yeah, I knew it was going to happen,” Bieber said later, per MLB. “He was like, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about it. I’ve only had a couple shoulder surgeries.’ And so as we were running out there, he was like, ‘I’m going to throw this as hard as I can.’
“I said, ‘OK, hum it in here.’ Our mascot, Slider, was right behind me. I was like, ‘I’ve got a good feeling this ball is going to be spiked, so I’m going to do my best to try and scoop it, but if I don’t you’ve got to body it up for me.’ Slider was like, ‘I got you,’ and sure enough we both bailed at the same time.”
That video went viral, and Kelce has been asked about it numerous times. On Monday, he was given an opportunity to throw a ceremonial first pitch before the Royals game against the Reds at Kauffman Stadium.
Kelce didn’t disappoint on Monday as he threw a strike to Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr.
CORNERBACK: TRENT MCDUFFIE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
While seventh-rounder Jaylen Watson received a lot of attention for his explosive plays as a rookie, McDuffie was quietly the more reliable rookie corner for the Chiefs amidst their Super Bowl run. After returning from a hamstring injury that knocked him out of action for six weeks, McDuffie started every game and put up a 74.9 defensive grade and 75.1 coverage grade. McDuffie’s versatility to play both outside and in the slot (536 snaps outside vs 247 as a slot corner) will make him a valuable member of the secondary as the Chiefs attempt to defend their Super Bowl title.
Jawaan Taylor • OT • #74
After parlaying a solid 2022 into a lucrative free-agent deal with the Chiefs, Taylor should benefit from having an acrobat like Patrick Mahomes as his QB. Like Orlando Brown Jr., his reputation is set to skyrocket for simply being part of a title-contending front.
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Hunter, 28, is entering the final year of a contract he originally signed in 2018. A renegotiation last year moved a portion of his future compensation up to 2022, leaving him with a deal that calls for him to earn a base salary of $4.9 million in 2023 with weekly roster bonuses that could total $500,000.
He skipped the voluntary portion of the Vikings’ offseason program as the sides discussed further contract adjustments, but the decision to hold out increases the stakes of the dispute. Skipping mandatory minicamp will subject him to mandatory fines of $16,459 for the first day and $32,920 for the second, according to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, and calls into question whether he will report to training camp when it begins in late July.
9 - Mac Jones & JuJu Smith-Schuster
The Patriots swapped Jakobi Meyers out for JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency this offseason, ensuring Jones still has an intermediate and over-the-middle target.
In 16 regular-season games with Kanas City last season, Smith-Schuster generated 78 catches for 933 yards and three touchdowns, leading all Chiefs wideouts in the first two categories. He added 10 catches for 89 yards in K.C.’s Super Bowl run. He brings a reliable target to Foxborough, one who plays tough and is a willing blocker.
It’s debatable whether JuJu will be an upgrade on Meyer’s production in New England, but he represents a much-needed weapon for a Pats passing offense that lacks a go-to target. Smith-Schuster’s ability to generate yards after the catch is something this attack was hurting for. The wideout earned +141 yards after the catch over expected in 2022, per NGS, eighth-most in the NFL. Adding extra yards will make life easier for Jones and the rest of the offense this season.
The Patriots waived the running back on Monday, according to the NFL’s official transaction wire.
Robinson joined New England in March after an unsuccessful 2022 season split between the Jaguars and Jets, in which he rushed for 425 yards and three touchdowns on 110 attempts in 11 games (five starts).
Robinson’s move to New York came on the heels of rookie Breece Hall’s season-ending knee injury, and although he’d found success early in his time in Jacksonville, Robinson wasn’t able to make a notable difference with the Jets, receiving just 29 carries over four games and gaining a paltry 2.9 yards per attempt.
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Tier 4: Failed quarterback trades
12. Denver Broncos
Hiring Sean Payton will make Denver’s offense credible, but replacing defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero with Vance Joseph was — for me — a questionable move; I see the defense regressing this year. While I expect Russell Wilson to be better this season, there’s been enough deterioration in his mobility that I can no longer see him being a top-10 quarterback again.
11. Cleveland Browns
Deshaun Watson was awful last year. It’s fair to expect him to be better with a full season, but I think he plays with a lot of variance. That doesn’t suit the style of offense head coach Kevin Stefanski wants to run. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will make the Browns competent on defense, but they’re still not an elite unit. There’s a ton of pressure on the front office and coaching staff, and I’m not sure they’re equipped to handle it.