Tagged in: chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs re-sign defensive end Alex Okafor to 1-year deal

Veteran defensive end Alex Okafor has signed a one-year contract to return to the Kansas City Chiefs, just days before the first players start reporting for training camp.

The Chiefs did not disclose financial terms in announcing the deal Tuesday.

The 30-year-old Okafor has 30 sacks and 183 tackles in eight NFL seasons, including the past two with the Chiefs. He joined the club as a free agent from New Orleans in March 2019, signing a three-year, $18 million contract.

Okafor made an immediate impact in helping rebuild the Kansas City defense, recording five sacks and 21 combined tackles in 10 games. A torn pectoral muscle in Week 15 forced him to finish the season on injured reserve. He missed playing in the team’s triumph over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV.

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The veteran signed a restructured contract in August 2020 that reduced his salary cap figure for that upcoming season by $2 million and voided the final year of his original three-year deal.

A hamstring injury limited Okafor to 11 games last season.

He finished with three sacks and 16 total tackles. He contributed in a backup role during the team’s playoff run, picking up five total tackles in three postseason contests, including one stop versus Tampa Bay in the team’s 31-9 loss in Super Bowl LV.

Okafor expects to compete for a backup role behind anticipated starters Frank Clark and Chris Jones as the team’s edge rushers. Competition at defensive end also includes veteran Taco Charlton, second-year pro Mike Danna and 2021 fourth-round draft pick Joshua Kaindoh.

Clark was charged in California with felony possession of an assault weapon stemming from a traffic stop in March. In June, he was arrested in Los Angeles after police said they saw a submachine gun in his car. Chiefs players begin reporting to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph on Friday.

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Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes thinks he’s ready to play after toe surgery

Patrick Mahomes won’t play in his first 2021 regular-season game for more than three months, but the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback said he’s ready for the game now.

“If there was a game [today], I’d be able to play in it, I think,” said Mahomes, who had surgery in February to repair turf toe.

“There’s still stuff I’m going to have to work through. I have to continue to rehab, continue to keep strengthening that stuff. But it’s good to be able to get out there earlier than the schedule had me and be able to get some work in.”

The Chiefs originally hoped Mahomes would be able to participate in offseason practice by the time the team’s mandatory minicamp arrived, which is in two weeks.

But Mahomes has been a full participant since the Chiefs started practice last week.

He took all of the usual starter’s snaps in practice Thursday and made some impressive throws, including a post pattern to Mecole Hardman.

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Mahomes also elaborated on his comments from last week saying he wanted the Chiefs, with the NFL’s expanded regular-season schedule, to be the first team ever to finish a season 20-0.

“I believe the question I was asked is, what record did I want to break?” Mahomes said.

“To me, records don’t mean anything if you’re not winning that last game at the end of the season. It’s about going in every single week with the mindset that we’re trying to win, we’re going to win. And at the end of the day whatever the record is, if it’s 20-0 or wherever it is, you win that last game of the season and you’re going to be happy with whatever happened earlier in the season.

“People get all hyped up about saying 20-0 because you have to take it one week at a time, but at the end of the day you want to continue to win every single week. I’m not going into the season hoping I lose any games.”

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Jarran Reed, Kansas City Chiefs agree to 1-year deal

Defensive tackle Jarran Reed has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler on Sunday.

Reed can earn up to $7 million on the deal, sources said.

Reed joins a defensive tackle rotation that incorporates Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton. Jones has led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past three seasons. Nnadi plays mostly on running downs, while Wharton showed promise last season as an undrafted rookie.

But Reed, with his 19 sacks over the past three seasons, gives the Chiefs a strong interior pass rusher to combine with Jones. The Seattle Seahawks released Reed on Friday, a year after the team signed him to a two-year, $23 million extension.

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Reed, 28, has been a full-time starter since 2017, the year after Seattle picked him in the second round out of Alabama.

He was known primarily as a run-stuffer his first two seasons but then broke out for 10.5 sacks in 2018.

He started the 2019 season by serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy and finished the year with two sacks in 10 matches.

Reed, who reportedly wanted a long-term contract to stay in Seattle and couldn’t reach an agreement with the team, appeared in all 16 games for the Seahawks in 2020 and played on 74 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, per Football Reference. He had 6.5 sacks, 38 combined tackles and 14 quarterback hits, with one pass breakup and a forced fumble.

He was set to count nearly $14 million against the salary cap before he was released.

For his career, Reed has 22 sacks and 194 tackles in 72 regular-season games.

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JuJu Smith-Schuster opts to re-sign with Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster on Friday revealed he has agreed to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers, becoming just the third wide receiver in the modern era to earn a second contract with the organization, joining Hines Ward and Antonio Brown.

Smith-Schuster told NFL Network on Friday that he had strong offers from the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs. Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Philadelphia Eagles also offered a multiyear deal with more money.

Instead, Smith-Schuster wound up staying with the Steelers on a one-year deal that he told NFL Network was “probably like my third-lowest offer.”

A source told ESPN’s Field Yates that Smith-Schuster’s $8 million contract with the Steelers has a $7 million signing bonus, $1 million base salary and four void years. The contract’s structure will result in a $2.4 million cap hit in 2021 and a $5.6 million cap hit in 2022, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reports.

“This is my home, they’re gonna need a wrecking ball to take me outta here! PITTSBURGH I LOVE YOU, LET’S GO!!!!!” he posted on Twitter.

Signing Smith-Schuster doesn’t come without consequences, however, and the cap-strapped Steelers also have granted permission to starting cornerback Steven Nelson to seek a trade, a source told Schefter.

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The Steelers had less than $4 million in cap space as of Friday morning, and trading or cutting Nelson would free up a little more than $8 million.

Nelson’s departure would make him the fifth starting defensive player to depart from the team in free agency, including veteran linebacker Vince Williams, who was released earlier this week.

Smith-Schuster’s 2020 season concluded on something of a sour note as he came under fire for his comments before the season-ending playoff loss to the rival Cleveland Browns.

“I think they’re still the same Browns that I’ve played every year,” Smith-Schuster stated before the match. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple of good players on their team. But at the end of the day, the Browns is the Browns.”

The receiver also was scrutinized during the season for his dances on the midfield logos of opponents before games that he posted on TikTok — a practice he stopped after coach Mike Tomlin talked to him when it was drawing more and more attention from opponents and media.

Smith-Schuster, 24, became a fan favorite soon after he was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft. Known for riding his bicycle to the team’s South Side facility, Smith-Schuster gained even more notoriety when it was stolen and then returned within 24 hours.

In four NFL seasons, he has 308 receptions for 3,726 yards and 26 touchdowns in 58 games.

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Kansas City Chiefs tackle Mitchell Schwartz has back surgery, eyes healthy 2021 season

Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is starting his offseason with a procedure.

Schwartz is undergoing surgery Wednesday after a back injury stripped him of 10 regular-season matches and the entire postseason. The ailment is the only one to hold Schwartz out of any games over his nine-year NFL career, offering an indication as to its severity.

In a social media post Wednesday before the operation, Schwartz said he anticipates returning for 2021, which could provide the first important step toward the Chiefs solving the offensive line woes that played a significant factor in the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.

“I was hoping to recover enough to get back for the playoffs/Super Bowl, but that didn’t happen,” Schwartz wrote in his Tweet. “It’s time to address the issue. The recovery process isn’t too long, which is nice. Looking forward to a healthy 2021!” Schwartz, 31, has one year left on a contract that will pay him nearly $10 million.

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When healthy, he has been one of the game’s best right tackles — and before this season was one of its most reliable. In 2019, Schwartz did not allow a sack all season, according to Pro Football Focus.

He missed a snap during the 2019 season for the first time in his career but returned in the same game.

He attempted to play through this back injury in the 2020 season, starting in Buffalo before removing himself from the Week 6 contest. He never returned over the remainder of the season but put off surgery in hopes of a potential Super Bowl appearance.

The Chiefs could have used him. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was pressured on 29 of his 56 dropbacks and scrambled 497 yards behind the line of scrimmage in an effort to buy more time. The Chiefs were on their third-string right tackle in the game.

Mike Remmers had filled in for Schwartz most of the season — and done so admirably — but when Eric Fisher injured his Achilles in the AFC Championship Game, Remmers moved to left tackle and guard Andrew Wylie kicked out to right tackle.

Both players struggled at their new spots versus the Buccaneers. Schwartz joined the Chiefs in 2016 in free agency, signing a five-year contract that made him one of the most-compensated right tackles at the time. He spent his first four seasons in Cleveland.

The Chiefs have won the AFC West division title every season Schwartz has been on the team.

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Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes to have surgery to fix turf toe

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will reportedly undergo surgery on Wednesday fix a torn plantar plate in his toe — usually known as turf toe.

Mahomes injured his toe on Jan. 17, during the divisional playoff match between the Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns. He was initially limping on that foot, but the severity of the injury was never really addressed. Mahomes left that game soon after that injury due to a concussion, and the toe issue became an afterthought.

The turf toe didn’t seem to affect him for the rest of the playoffs. Mahomes was constantly scrambling during the Chiefs’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV and he looked just fine. However, the injury was reportedly “significant,” according to Rapoport.

“Hobbled” is a strong term, so it’s pretty impressive that Mahomes was able to handle himself that well with such a significant injury.

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Mahomes will reportedly be having surgery just three days into the offseason.

Getting it out of the way early will mean that he’s got more time to recover.

Rapoport only stated that Mahomes’ rehab time will be “several months,” which leaves a major question which is if he will be ready for the 2021 season.

Mahomes will obviously be limited in what he can do during at least part of offseason due to his toe. While he may be ready for the beginning of the 2021 season, we don’t yet know what his timeline is and when he’ll be able to get back to his normal offseason training program.

It’s possible that he could be slightly behind when he gets for training camp. But that’s a problem for the August 2021 Chiefs. For now, Mahomes is getting a nagging injury repaired and that will only make him better next campaign.

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Kansas City Chiefs clinch No. 1 seed in AFC as Travis Kelce sets records

Earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC hasn’t resulted in Super Bowl success for the Kansas City Chiefs in the past, but they hope it puts them on the path to a championship this time around.

The Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed Sunday by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 17-14 at Arrowhead Stadium. The 14-1 Chiefs, who have won 10 consecutive games, will receive the AFC’s only first-round playoff bye and will play their divisional-round game at Arrowhead.

“It’s one of your goals when you go into the season,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson with 1:55 left to rally the Chiefs to a surprisingly difficult win over the 4-11 Falcons. “If you look at the history of that bye week, usually it’s a good thing for teams trying to make a championship run.”

In the victory, Travis Kelce became the first tight end to have two 100-catch seasons. Kelce caught seven passes, giving him 105. Kelce also set the single-season yardage record for a tight end. He had 98 yards, giving him 1,467. The San Francisco 49ers’ George Kittle held the previous record with 1,377 yards, set in 2018.

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“To get a week of preparation, a week of really locking in and getting the body right that late in the season is so key, and it’s much needed if you want to make that playoff push,” Kelce said. “That’s what you work your tail off for all season. I’m just proud to be a part of this team and be able to do it again this year.”

The AFC’s No. 1 seed hasn’t represented the conference in the Super Bowl in either of the past two campaigns.

The Chiefs have been the AFC’s top playoff seed three times but failed to reach the Super Bowl in any of those seasons. In 1995 and 1997, they lost their divisional-round playoff game at home. In 2018, they lost the AFC Championship Game at home in overtime to the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs were the No. 2 seed last year on their way to a Super Bowl LIV championship. The Chiefs concluded the regular season next Sunday versus the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead. Since the game will be meaningless with regard to the standings and their playoff seed, they are likely to rest some of their top players, including Mahomes and Kelce.

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New Orleans Saints’ Tre’Quan Smith is latest wide receiver to land on injured reserve

The New Orleans Saints are even thinner at wide receiver after placing Tre’Quan Smith on injured reserve with an ankle injury he sustained in Sunday’s 32-29 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Smith, who is a standout blocker in addition to his pass-catching role, will have to miss at least three matches, including the Saints’ playoff opener.

Saints receivers Michael Thomas (ankle) and Deonte Harris (neck) are already on IR for the remainder of the regular season — though coach Sean Payton stated the goal is for Thomas to be as close to 100% as possible for the start of the playoffs.

“I just felt with Mike it was real clear,” Payton said. “Man, he was grinding and productive and catching eight balls, nine balls. But it wasn’t gonna get better until football stopped, just by the nature of the ankle sprain. And so look, if it was ‘win this one, you get in or not,’ then I think our approach would have been much different. But we’ve got a pretty good feel that he can be closer to his 100% — and I don’t know if it’s exactly his 100% — but closer to full speed. And that’s a tremendous asset for us. And in fairness to him right now, we’ve got a little bit of that luxury.”

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The Saints (10-4) have clinched a playoff spot.

And they can clinch their fourth straight NFC South title with one more win or a loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) over the final two weeks. The Saints still have an outside shot at the NFC’s No. 1 seed, but they need help from other teams.

New Orleans has lost two consecutive games, and the lack of receiver depth was noticeable in Sunday’s loss to Kansas City. Drew Brees started 0-for-6 passing for the first time in his career before he tried to rally the Saints back with three touchdown passes.

On a positive note, the Saints activated undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway off the IR list in time for Friday’s game versus the Minnesota Vikings. Callaway caught eight passes for 75 yards in a game earlier this season when the Saints’ receiver position was similarly thinned out. New Orleans’ active receivers for Friday will be Emmanuel Sanders, Callaway, Austin Carr, Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Juwan Johnson.

Smith, a third-round draft pick from Central Florida, set career highs in his third NFL season with 34 catches and 448 yards before sustaining the ankle injury Sunday. He had four touchdown catches — one shy of the five he had in each of his first two seasons.

The Saints also ruled out starting free safety Marcus Williams (ankle) and part-time starting guard Nick Easton (concussion). Guard Andrus Peat (ankle), defensive end Trey Hendrickson (neck) and defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) are questionable.

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Le’Veon Bell Signs Reported 1-Year Chiefs Contract

Running back Le’Veon Bell signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday after being released by the New York Jets earlier in the week, the team stated.

Kansas City did not release terms of the pact, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Bell is expected to sign a one-year deal. 

Schefter noted Bell wants to win a Super Bowl and believes the reigning champs give him the best chance to do so.

The three-time Pro Bowler is in his seventh season in the league, and Kansas City marks his third team after his career started with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013. After missing the 2018 season because of a contract dispute, he signed a four-year, $52.5 million contract with the Jets in March 2019.

Bell’s 19 months with the Jets were rocky at best. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported in May 2019 that head coach Adam Gase liked Bell on the field but “didn’t love the money.” 

Across 17 games with the Jets, Bell had 264 carries for 863 yards and three touchdowns, and he caught 69 passes for 500 yards and a touchdown. He got off to a slow start in 2020, as he missed three games with a hamstring injury and had only 74 yards on 19 carries in the two games he did play.

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When Bell returned in Week 5, he played only 67 percent of the offensive snaps. In 2019, he appeared for more than 80 percent of the team’s snaps in 11 games and over 90 percent five times.

In the days leading up to Bell’s Tuesday release, Gase was outspoken about the running back’s social media activity.

The Michigan State product liked multiple tweets about his lack of usage, and he had expressed his frustration throughout the campaign.

Jets general manager Joe Douglas wrote in a statement that the two sides explored the possibility of a trade, but they could not reach an agreement with another team before deciding to release him.

The Chiefs spent their first-round pick this year on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled for 138 rushing yards in his debut. However, he has yet to top 64 yards in each of his other four games, and Kansas City lacks much reliable depth behind him.

Expect Bell to immediately slide in as a complement to Edwards-Helaire, particularly as a pass-catching option on third downs.

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Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs are first to 4-0 in four straight seasons

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs started slowly on Monday night, which should have been expected. Their adversary was the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs came alive in the second half, as they usually do versus the Patriots. Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and the Chiefs ran their record to 4-0 by winning 26-10.

The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start four consecutive seasons 4-0 or better. They’ve had a winning streak of at least four games in every one of coach Andy Reid’s eight seasons.

The Chiefs didn’t score their first touchdown until late in the third quarter. The match was only the third with Mahomes as their starter in which the Chiefs didn’t score at least one touchdown on any of their first four possessions. The other two came against the Patriots. But in each of those games the Chiefs scored 31 points in the second half.

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The Chiefs scored 20 this time with the help of 25-yard interception return for a touchdown by Tyrann Mathieu.

Two of the biggest plays of the game came with New England inside the Chiefs’ 20. The Chiefs ended each drive with a sack, first late in the first half when Frank Clark dragged down Brian Hoyer for a 13-yard loss from the Chiefs’ 13.

The Patriots were out of time outs and the play ended the half. Taco Charlton in the third quarter sacked Hoyer at the Chiefs’ 10 and forced a fumble. The Chiefs recovered.

The Chiefs played without defensive tackle Chris Jones, their leading pass-rusher. He had been listed as questionable for the game with a groin injury. Jones led the Chiefs coming into the game with 3.5 sacks.

Kicker Harrison Butker missed a point-after touchdown for the second consecutive game. He did make both of his field goal attempts. Butker missed a 42-yard try last week.

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