Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that Payton has the second-best odds (+900) to win Coach of the Year this season, only trailing Dan Campbell (+850) of the Detroit Lions, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Oddsmakers seem to like Payton’s chances of flipping the Broncos from one of the worst teams in the NFL to a playoff contender in 2023.
Elsewhere in the AFC West, Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs) has the worst odds (+5000) to win Coach of the Year, Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders) has the fourth-worst odds (+3500) and Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers) has the 11th-best odds (+2500).
Kansas City Chiefs: Wide Receiver
A year ago, the Chiefs traded star wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins and turned to JuJu Smith-Schuster to be their new No. 1 wideout. The move worked out pretty well, as Kansas City went on to win Super Bowl LVII. However, the Chiefs find themselves in a similar position this offseason.
Smith-Schuster departed in free agency, as did Mecole Hardman, who ranked fourth among wideouts with 297 receiving yards despite being limited to only eight games by an abdominal injury.
It’s easy to think that coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes are experienced enough to overcome another receiver shuffle. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the Chiefs need a new top receiver to pair with star tight end Travis Kelce as a primary target.
Last year’s second and third receivers, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Justin Watson, are back. So is in-season addition Kadarius Toney, and the Chiefs are eager to see what the former New York Giants’ first-round pick can accomplish with Mahomes.
“It’s exciting now for us to be able to take that to year two and build that relationship with Pat,” offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said, per Charles Goldman of Chiefs Wire.
Kansas City also signed Richie James and used a second-round pick on SMU’s Rashee Rice, so there will be plenty of competition. Ideally, it will yield a receiving corps with which the Chiefs can make another championship run.
2) Assistant Head Coach / Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub was asked if he anticipates any new return men emerging during the offseason training program.
The Chiefs deployed rookie running back Isiah Pacheco as their primary kickoff return man last season, but as Pacheco likely takes on a larger workload offensively in 2023, that role could be up for grabs this summer. Toub explained as much on Thursday.
“Yeah, I do anticipate that. Some guys that are doing really well right now that you probably want to know [are rookie Deneric] Prince, [who] is looking good as a running back,” Toub said. “He reminds me so much of [former running back] Knile Davis. He reminds me of Knile, he even has the same number. [He] didn’t [return kicks] in college, but he’s showing traits right now that he reminds me so much of Knile – it’s kind of scary. Knile was pretty good for us, obviously with the touchdowns. So, I see him in that role.”
Prince signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tulsa shortly following the draft. Toub also went on to mention wide receivers Richie James, John Ross, Skyy Moore and Ihmir Smith-Marsette as players who are currently in the mix as return men.
Kelce, 33, may have accomplished everything so far in his 10-year career, but Chandler Parsons believes he’s on his way to being a bigger star on TV when it’s all said and done. Kelce was a guest for FanDuel TV’s Run It Back show where he talked about golfing with Parsons, gave his thoughts on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season, and shared his relationship with LeBron James, among others. At the end of the interview, as Kelce was about to leave, Parsons gave a parting message to the all-time great:
“People don’t know Travis Kelce is the greatest personality ever. As successful as his career has been, it’s even gonna be better after he’s done playing football,” Chandler Parsons says.
“I would say, yeah, Kansas City has been a dynasty for quite a while now,” Kelce said. “Obviously, I’m biased to that, but what coach [Andy] Reid has done since he’s been here, in terms of winning, in terms of playoff runs and all the division championships and the AFC title appearances, then obviously the Super Bowls.
“We’re 100 percent a dynasty, but when you put it up against what the Warriors have done, obviously we don’t have as many championships right now, so we’ve got some work to do. We’re on an uphill battle. Especially when you talk about what the Warriors have been able to do. Unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a few daggers from the Golden State Warriors being a Cavs fan throughout my day.”
Around the NFL
Doubs, in particular, has been one of the offseason program standouts thanks to his connection with Love after putting in extra work in California on top of OTAs in Green Bay this past week. After Packers head coach Matt LaFleur likened some of Doubs’ movements to former Packers great and current Las Vegas Raiders All-Pro Davante Adams back in April, Doubs is now confident in proclaiming Love can actually live up to his predecessor’s massive accomplishments.
“I think Jordan is a really good quarterback,” Doubs said Friday, via Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin. “When you go from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan, Aaron was a really great quarterback, but I believe Jordan can do the same exact thing. So I don’t really see what’s the big difference.”
As the Broncos work through OTAs, Wilson is visibly leaner than he was in 2022. He has yet to say how much weight he has lost in recent months — “I’m not counting’’ — but he has declared things will be different this time around.
“I wanted to have the best offseason of my life,’’ Wilson said recently. “ … Ultimately we want to be the best version of ourselves.’’
On his conditioning, Wilson said “I’m better than ever … I feel great, I feel lean and mean and ready to go.’’
30-year-old linebacker Shane Ray was signed to Buffalo’s roster after completing the workout, getting him one step closer to playing in the NFL for the first time since 2018.
The Broncos had drafted Ray No. 23 overall in 2015, and in his first season he was a part of Denver’s Super Bowl 50 roster. He looked to be building on that momentum in his second year, playing in all 16 games (eight starts) and collecting eight sacks. But in 2017 came the emergence of recurring wrist injuries that severely limited his playing time over the next two years.
He was repeatedly placed on injured reserve and underwent four wrist surgeries in that time, leading to the Broncos letting him go after the 2018 season. Though he had a brief preseason stint with the Ravens, Ray did not play in 2019, partially due to the continued impact of his injury. Then with 2020 came the pandemic and its associated challenges, and Ray spent the next few years getting healthy and playing in the Canadian Football League, spending two years with the Toronto Argonauts as he tried to work his way back.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
We’re defining quality starter as a player who would be likely to start on any NFL roster. While they might not beat out a cornerstone player, most teams would be happy to have them. They are players who would be difficult to upgrade without making a large free-agent investment, a significant trade or hitting a home run in the NFL Draft. They could be (or have already been) selected for a Pro Bowl.
Who are the Chiefs’ quality starters?
Cornerback Trent McDuffie: When he was on the field during his rookie season, McDuffie was an excellent cover corner. While there’s no doubt that his early-season injury hampered his development, his coverage skills are promising; his youth brings plenty of upside to the defense. But to be considered an elite player, he will need to improve his ball production.