Kyle Long is officially on the Chiefs active roster. The team activated the veteran offensive lineman from the reserve/PUP list today, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).
Long came out of a one-year retirement to join the Chiefs this past offseason. However, he suffered a lower leg injury in June that ultimately delayed his return to the field. The 32-year-old finally returned to practice earlier this month, and now he’ll be able to join a Chiefs roster that’s making a push toward the playoffs.
Long joined the defending AFC champs on a one-year deal worth up to $5MM in March. Previous to that, the 2013 first-round pick spent his entire seven-year career with the Bears, earning three Pro Bowl appearances and a second-team All-Pro nod in 2014. However, he dealt with a long list of injuries between 2016 and 2019, averaging only 7.5 games per season over that four-year span. After being limited to only four games in 2019, Long announced his retirement.
Long’s versatility means he should see a role for the Chiefs down the stretch. The Chiefs have used three different starters (including Lucas Niang, Mike Remmers, and Andrew Wylie) at right tackle, so the veteran could perhaps provide some stability to that spot when the team returns from their bye this Sunday night.
To make room on the roster, the Chiefs placed running back Jerick McKinnon on injured reserve with a hamstring injury (via Aaron Wilson on Twitter). The veteran joined the Chiefs this past offseason and has seen time in 11 games, collecting 119 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches. He’s also seen a significant amount of time on special teams. Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders also landed on IR.
The race for the AFC West is far from over. There is no team with a losing record in the division, setting for up an exciting final stretch of the regular season.
The Chiefs (7-4) began the season as clear favorites to win the division, but they’ve failed to create the distance they’d hoped for between themselves and their divisional foes. Kansas City’s first five games were defined by shootouts in which its defense struggled to contribute to team success, leading to an opening record of 2-3. After the Chiefs’ 27-3 loss to the Titans in Week 7, their defense seems to have found its footing. The Chris Jones-led unit is allowing 11.75 points per game since then en route to a four-game win streak.
In Los Angeles, Justin Herbert has benefitted from having healthy weapons in running back Austin Ekeler and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, an improvement from the 6-4 Chargers’ injury-riddled 2020 season. Much like the Chiefs, though, the Chargers’ defense has struggled to turn that success into wins as they’ve only managed to hold two opponents under 20 points this season.
The Raiders (6-5) have been a team of streaks this season. They began the year 3-0 with impressive wins over the Ravens and Steelers. They then lost two, won two, and lost three in a row through their next seven games with concerning losses to the currently reeling Bears and Giants. Las Vegas rebounded with an impressive Thanksgiving Day win in Dallas. The Raiders’ current winning record is all the more impressive when you consider the off-the-field controversies that have rocked the franchise.
Over their first eight games of the season, the Broncos (5-5) were fairly easy to decipher. They beat teams currently under .500 — the Giants, Jaguars, Jets and the Football Team — but they could not get past teams currently over .500 (Ravens, Steelers, Raiders, Browns). They did buck this trend in their past two games by beating the Cowboys (7-4) and losing to the Eagles (4-6). They certainly hope that trend is over, as the Lions represent the only team they face over the rest of the season with a sub-.500 record. Offseason pickup Teddy Bridgewater leads an offense that has seen the return of Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton, though Denver’s latest run of injury misfortune involved second-year receiver Jerry Jeudy missing most of the season’s first half. The running game has been split pretty evenly between seven-year veteran Melvin Gordon and second-round rookie Javonte Williams.
With seven weeks remaining in the regular season, potential for divisional chaos remains. The Chiefs don’t have any remaining opponents currently under .500. The Raiders are set to play just one — the Washington Football Team. The Bolts potentially have a softer route, with two teams remaining under .500 in the Giants and Texans. In addition, there’s plenty of divisional play left to ensue before the playoff field forms.
So who do you see taking control of the AFC West? Do the Chiefs regain their supremacy and claim the division for the sixth straight year? Or do any of the other contenders take advantage of Kansas City’s four early-season losses? Vote in our latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
He bet on himself to be a focal point of a team’s offensive line and he hopes to see that bet pay off this spring. Set to be a free agent after the 2021-22 season concludes, Orlando Brown Jr. has had an interesting journey through his rookie contract.
A unanimous All-American at Oklahoma, Brown was selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Ravens. Despite being considered a first-round pick for much of his last year in college, a poor performance at the NFL Combine plummeted the young tackle’s stock. Brown quickly made sure that the football world knew he was not going to be defined by his combine performance and became widely considered one of the biggest steals of the draft. Six games into his rookie year, an injury to starting right tackle James Hurst thrust Brown into a starting role. Brown, meanwhile, hasn’t missed a single game since taking over.
Brown went to his first Pro Bowl in 2019 after his first full season as the Ravens’ starting right tackle. The next year an injury to newly extended left tackle Ronnie Stanley pushed Brown to the left side of the offensive line for the last 1o games of the season. Brown made his second Pro Bowl that year after playing most of the year at left tackle.
At that point Brown made it clear to the Ravens that he intended to be the best left tackle in the NFL. This put Baltimore in a difficult position as they had signed Stanley to a five-year extension worth $98.75 MM just prior to the 2020 season. Stanley, a First-Team All-Pro in 2019, had been drafted only two years prior to Brown and had established himself as the future blindside blocker in Baltimore. But Brown’s determination to play on the left side of the line stemmed from his late father’s wish that he not settle for any other position in the NFL, so Brown requested a trade to an organization that would allow him to live that dream.
The Ravens honored Brown’s request and traded him, along with a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, to the Chiefs for a first-, third-, and fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It was initially thought that Kansas City would extend the young stalwart tackle and lock down their future at the position, but the Chiefs held off, allowing Brown to play out the final year of his rookie contract.
Perhaps the Chiefs wanted to be sure that Brown could perform in a pass-happy system that differed greatly from the Ravens’ run-heavy offense. Brown’s play has not suffered as he continues to use his length well in pass-blocking and, while not dominant as a run-blocker, he rarely misses blocks in the run game.
It’s not expected that Kansas City would let their blindside blocker walk after only one year. Brown should expect a strong extension offer from the Chiefs. And while it may not be feasible to reach the yearly average value of contracts like Trent Williams ($23.01MM) or David Bakhtiari ($23 MM), the contracts of other young tackles like Laremy Tunsil ($22MM per year) and former teammate Stanley ($19.75MM) should serve as a good jumping off point to determine Brown’s worth.
A conversation will probably need to be had with quarterback and former MVP Patrick Mahomes as his cap hit is expected to jump from $7.43MM in 2021 to $35.79MM in 2022. If the Chiefs are not able to make a deal work, Brown will certainly become one of the top offseason priorities for any team interested in a franchise left tackle.
November 23rd, 2021 at 11:35am CST by Zachary Links
The Chiefs have agreed to a two-year contract extension with long snapper James Winchester, according to his agent Ken Sarnoff (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). Exact terms of the deal are not yet known, but the new money average will position him as the highest-paid long snapper in NFL history.
After entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Winchester caught on with Kansas City in 2015 and became a staple of their special teams unit. The 32-year-old has played in all of the Chiefs’ 107 regular season games during this span, signing multiple deals to bypass free agency.
In 2017, Winchester restructured his deal to give the Chiefs an additional $400K in cap space. It’s likely that the new pact is similarly structured to provide KC with extra room in the near term, though Winchester will see a sizable bump from his current $890K/year average.
The Chiefs will have Clyde Edwards-Helaire back in uniform Sunday. After not activating him when first eligible last weekend, Kansas City is moving its starting running back onto its active roster Saturday, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets.
A sprained MCL has sidelined Edwards-Helaire since Week 5, marking the second year the first-round pick has missed a chunk of a season due to injury. While the LSU product has been inconsistent as a pro, he would stand to further equip a Chiefs team that has re-emerged atop the AFC West.
It is uncertain how the Chiefs plan to use last year’s No. 32 overall pick, with backup Darrel Williams having played well in his absence. Andy Reid expressed caution about CEH returning against the Cowboys, so it is possible he will not resume his full pre-injury workload. Williams is coming off a strong performance, when he totaled 141 scrimmage yards and a long touchdown reception in the Chiefs’ blowout win over the Raiders.
Edwards-Helaire does have two 100-yard rushing games this season but also has lost two fumbles, including one that ended a potential Chiefs game-winning drive against the Ravens. He finished with 1,100 scrimmage yards in 13 games last season, before a hip and ankle injuries put him on ice until the playoffs.