Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes To Participate In OTAs

A month ago, Patrick Mahomes proclaimed himself ahead of schedule in his recovery from a turf toe injury. The superstar quarterback will soon prove that. Mahomes is expected to participate in OTAs next week, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets.

Mahomes, who underwent surgery on his left foot shortly after Super Bowl LV, is not expected to take his usual number of reps in team drills, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher. But the fifth-year passer will participate. He was initially not expected to be ready to return to work until the Chiefs’ mid-June minicamp.

Regardless of his participation level next week and in Kansas City’s minicamp, Palmer adds Mahomes is on track to be full-go by training camp. This is certainly positive news for the Chiefs, who made big moves to assemble a new offensive line for its franchise centerpiece this offseason.

The 25-year-old QB suffered the toe injury against the Browns in the divisional round. That became an afterthought after the concussion Mahomes encountered later in that game, but it has resulted in a few months of rehab. The Chiefs have Chad Henne under contract to return as Mahomes’ backup, with UDFAs Anthony Gordon (Washington State) and Shane Buechele (SMU) on the AFC champions’ 90-man roster as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Mahomes, Turay, Steelers

It never appeared too serious, but anytime one of the faces of the league has surgery, it’s a big deal. Patrick Mahomes had a bad case of turf toe that hobbled him down the stretch, and he had surgery just after the Super Bowl. Speaking to the media recently, the Chiefs star provided an update on his health, and thankfully it sounds like everything is going smoothly. “I think I’m ahead of schedule myself,” Mahomes said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. At the same time he made it clear they aren’t going to rush anything. “Obviously, we’re trying to be cautious. We’re not pushing me out there too soon. But I’m doing what I can. I’ve gotten out of the boot finally. It took forever. Now I’m trying to get back on the field and get that stuff working,” he explained.

I’m sure they’ll keep me on that same pathway and that hopefully I can do some stuff by the end of the offseason.” Whether or not he makes it back for offseason work in June, the Chiefs are apparently hoping to have him be a full-go for training camp in July.

Here’s more from around the AFC on a quiet Sunday night:

  • Speaking of surgeries, Kemoko Turay had another one. The Colts edge rusher underwent another procedure on his ankle after the season, GM Chris Ballard said this week, via Zak Keefer of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He was never quite right all year,” Ballard said. It’s a somewhat concerning acknowledgement, considering Turray was sidelined from October of 2019 until November of 2020 after breaking his ankle. His initial recovery took a long time, and it sounds like it never went according to plan. The 52nd overall pick of the 2018 draft flashed potential as a rookie with four sacks, but he only had one in seven games this past year. Indy is desperate for pass-rush off the edge so Turray could be a big contributor if he can stay healthy, but his 2021 isn’t off to a great start.
  • The Steelers cut linebacker Vince Williams in March, then re-signed him about a month later. We heard at the time he rebuffed other offers to return to Pittsburgh, and it sounds like he may have turned down more money. That’s because Williams’ new deal with the Steelers is only for the veteran’s minimum of $1.075MM, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. Financial terms previously hadn’t been disclosed. Williams had signed a three-year, $18.6MM extension back in 2018 before getting cut with a year remaining on that deal, so he’s taking a pretty significant pay-cut in 2021. The 2013 sixth-round pick started all 14 games that he appeared in last year, racking up 70 tackles and three sacks.

QB Notes: Brady, Mahomes, Teddy, Falcons

Just over a year ago, Matt Rhule said he was “unbelievably excited” to coach Cam Newton. That never came to fruition, with the Panthers releasing their longtime starter a few weeks after those comments. This year, the Panthers’ desire to upgrade on Newton’s replacement — Teddy Bridgewater — has not exactly been a secret. David Tepper is said to be eager to make a strong offer for Deshaun Watson, and the Panthers offered their No. 8 overall pick and change for Matthew Stafford. Rhule, however, said he “can’t wait” to have Bridgewater back as QB1, via Joseph Person of The Athletic (subscription required).

I think he’s controlling what he can control, and he’s having a great offseason, I’m sure,” Rhule said. “I can’t wait to get him back here. And I think he’s determined to play his best football next year. As far as where he stands with us, he’s our quarterback and nothing’s changed since the end of the offseason.”

In addition to the Panthers’ interest in veteran upgrades, they were present at Trey Lance‘s pro day Friday and are planning to be at the other first-round-caliber QBs’ showcases, per Person. Bridgewater’s $63MM deal runs through 2022, but his grip on Carolina’s starting job is far from firm.

Here is the latest from the quarterback position, moving to some rather famous passers:

  • Thanks largely to void-years maneuvering, the Buccaneers have Tom Brady set to collect a massive 2021 sum but only count $9.1MM against their cap. On his latest extension, Brady will take home $41.1MM this year, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The contract calls for a $24MM cap number in 2022, when Brady is only due to collect $8.9MM. The Bucs are stacking three void years to make this work, and Pelissero adds the team will save $19.3MM against this year’s cap by making this move (Twitter link). A whopping $24MM in void-years prorations will reside on Tampa Bay’s 2023-25 caps. If the Bucs do not extend Brady again by the time this contract expires in March 2023, they will be hit with the entire $24MM in dead-money sum on their 2023 payroll.
  • The Chiefs restructuring Patrick Mahomes‘ 10-year, $450MM contract saved them $17MM in cap space. Mahomes will now only count $7.43MM against Kansas City’s 2021 cap, per OverTheCap. He is only due $990K in 2021 base salary.
  • Matt Schaub‘s retirement and the Falcons waiving Kurt Benkert leaves Matt Ryan as the lone quarterback on Atlanta’s roster. While the Falcons are expected to add two more QBs this offseason, new HC Arthur Smith is not certain he wants to sign a veteran to be Ryan’s primary backup, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. Schaub worked as Ryan’s backup for the past five years.

Chiefs Restructure Patrick Mahomes’ Deal

Less than a year after signing the NFL’s most lucrative contract, Patrick Mahomes agreed to restructure it.

The MVP quarterback will restructure his deal and create $17MM in cap space for the Chiefs, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Language in the two-time Super Bowl starter’s deal allows the Chiefs to automatically restructure it to create cap space, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The Chiefs will move much of Mahomes’ $21.7MM roster bonus into a prorated signing bonus. This comes a day after the team cut both Mahomes’ starting tackles. Kansas City has created around $35MM in cap space over the past two days.

Even after the releases of Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, the Chiefs were more than $4MM over the $182.5MM salary cap. Mahomes’ restructuring part of his 10-year, $450MM contract so soon will bring Kansas City under the cap, providing key ammo to go about adding new offensive linemen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach On Mahomes, OL, Watkins

The Chiefs are coming off a very disappointing Super Bowl loss, and although they’re coming off back to back AFC titles, they know they’ve got some work to do this offseason. GM Brett Veach met with the media on Monday, and dished on what lies ahead.

Perhaps most notably, Veach provided an update on Patrick Mahomes. Everything appears to have gone smoothly with Mahomes’ foot surgery, as the GM said he’ll definitely be ready for training camp and the team is hoping he can participate in mandatory minicamp in June. Mahomes was hobbled down the stretch, but it doesn’t sound like this is going to be an issue of much importance for 2021.

Kansas City’s offensive line (deservedly so) took a lot of blame for the Super Bowl loss, and Veach acknowledged it’s a priority. He highlighted the two COVID-19 opt-outs the team had on the O-line, as well as the loss of left tackle Eric Fisher in the AFC Championship Game, but made it clear the team wasn’t going to stand pat.

“From the offset here, the draft looks to be really talented on the offensive line. So I think it’ll be a combination of what we have in-house and blending that in with some new talent. Potentially in free agency and potentially in the draft,” Veach said, via Charles Goldman of the Chiefs Wire.

Speaking of the offensive line, Veach said that right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who was limited to six games in 2020, had disk surgery on his back and the team is hopeful he’ll be ready for training camp as well. He said the same thing about Fisher, although that might be a bit of a reach considering he’s coming off a torn Achilles at 30.

Finally, Veach talked about the receiving corp and specifically Sammy Watkins. He said it would take more work than it did last year to bring Watkins back, which could be GM-speak for the team being likely to move on. Veach said the team feels good about Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Byron Pringle and that “I can’t see us running out of the gates in the first week of free agency and signing a receiver,” via Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).

The last we heard was right before the Super Bowl, when there was apparently mutual interest between Watkins and the Chiefs in sticking together, but it sounds like it might be an uphill battle to get it to work financially. Watkins took a pay-cut last April to stay with the team for 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Only NFL Players With No-Trade Clauses

It’s fairly common for disgruntled NFL players to give their teams a short list of acceptable trade destinations. However, it’s still quite rare for players to hold contractual veto power over a trade. Currently, there are only nine NFL players with a no-trade clause in their deals, as ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets

▪️ Drew Brees, QB (Saints)
▪️ Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OL (Chiefs)
▪️ Jimmy Garoppolo, QB (49ers)
▪️ Jimmy Graham, TE (Bears)
▪️ DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Cardinals)
▪️ Patrick Mahomes, QB (Chiefs)
▪️ Deshaun Watson, QB (Texans)
▪️ J.J. Watt, DL (Cardinals)
▪️ Russell Wilson, QB (Seahawks)

The Chiefs, who represent 25% of the list, furnished LDT with a NTC as a part of his contract restructure. Historically, there haven’t been many offensive lineman to secure the clause. However, Duvernay-Tardif had a bit of leverage in 2020 when the Chiefs needed extra cap room. He was scheduled to count for nearly $9MM, $6.45MM of which was comprised of base salary. Instead, he converted some of that money into a signing bonus over the remaining three years and came away with a perk typically reserved for quarterbacks.

Watson and Wilson are among the QBs who can block trades. They’re both putting it to use, albeit in different ways. Watson wants out — even after finally meeting with new head coach David Culley – and he’s steering himself towards a small group of teams, including the Dolphins and Panthers. Wilson, meanwhile, says that he doesn’t want to get traded and doesn’t expect to get traded. But, if the Seahawks do shop him, he wouldn’t mind joining up with the Bears, Cowboys, Saints or Raiders. In beating out several other teams for Watt, the Cardinals included the clause in the star defender’s contract.

Russell Wilson Not Expecting To Be Traded; QB Clashing With Pete Carroll?

The Seahawks have run into a seminal issue with their franchise quarterback, with trade destinations coming out Thursday. At this point, Russell Wilson does not expect the Seahawks to trade him, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, though multiple NFL executives believe the team will make the decorated quarterback available.

This rift between Wilson and the team stems from several factors. A central component in Wilson’s frustration is Pete Carroll‘s insistence on an offense that features the run more than most NFL attacks do, and The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks report Wilson and Carroll have clashed over the past several months on both the Seahawks’ philosophy and personnel (subscription required).

Following a midseason stretch that featured seven Wilson turnovers in two losses, the Seahawks reverted to a more balanced offense. They then finished the regular season with wins in six of their final seven games to post a 12-4 record — the team’s best mark since 2014. Prior to the turnaround, however, Seahawks coaches dismissed Wilson’s ideas for how to repair a suddenly ailing offense, according to The Athletic. This led to Wilson storming out of a meeting.

Wilson fell well off the MVP pace on which he started the season, after he threw 26 touchdown passes in Seattle’s first seven games, and closed the year with an 11-for-27 performance against the Rams in a wild-card loss. After the season, Wilson expressed dissatisfaction with the Seahawks’ offensive line plan publicly. But that came after the nine-year veteran went to Carroll on this matter — one that had bothered him for years. Carroll’s insufficient response to Wilson’s O-line-related concerns, in the 32-year-old passer’s eyes set off the public commentary that has led to trade rumors, per The Athletic.

The Seahawks have not put a tremendous amount of resources into their offensive line in recent years, and Wilson has taken 394 sacks — the most by any quarterback through his first nine seasons. QBs, of course, bear responsibility for sacks alongside offensive linemen.

Past flirtations with trades or other quarterbacks have pushed this situation to this point as well. The Seahawks’ trade talks with the Browns in 2018 — however brief they were — led to Wilson’s 2019 extension containing a no-trade clause. GM John Schneider being on-hand for Josh Allen‘s pro day factored into Wilson’s situation as well, and The Athletic adds that Schneider’s fascination with Patrick Mahomes would have led to the Seahawks taking him had he fallen to them at No. 26 — an unrealistic scenario based on the future MVP’s pre-draft rise — in the 2017 draft. The Cardinals and Saints were prepared to draft Mahomes ahead of the Seahawks.

Beyond the four teams that Wilson’s agent mentioned today as trade destinations his client would approve — the Bears, Cowboys, Saints and Raiders — The Athletic’s report indicated Wilson’s camp discussed trades to the Dolphins and Jets with the Seahawks. Considering both teams’ draft capital and their respective links to Deshaun Watson, it makes sense they would be connected to Wilson as well. It is certainly notable that they were omitted in Mark Rodgers’ Thursday comments, however. The Seahawks have yet to approach Wilson about any potential trades, Fowler notes.

Wilson’s $35MM-per-year contract runs through the 2023 season. It would tag the Seahawks a record $39MM in dead money were they to trade Wilson before June 1, per Spotrac (on Twitter), with a post-June 1 trade defraying $26MM of the hit to 2022. To avoid such a scenario becoming the lead trade in a seismic offseason for quarterback movement, the Seahawks and Wilson may have some fence-mending to do in the coming weeks.

Patrick Mahomes Expected To Undergo Foot Surgery

Patrick Mahomes was visibly hobbled during last night’s Super Bowl loss, and it sounds like his turf toe injury will result in surgery. Before the game, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported (via Twitter) that the quarterback was likely to go under the knife once the season ended.

Rapoport noted that Mahomes will first meet with a foot specialist before determining how he should proceed, but he’s expected to undergo surgery to repair the issue for the “long term.” The surgery would require a “multi-month” recovery process that would likely knock Mahomes out for much of the spring. Rapoport estimates that that the 25-year-old will be fully recovered by the start of training camp.

The injury has been lingering since the Chiefs playoff win over the Browns. Mahomes was still able to toss three touchdowns in the AFC Championship against the Bills, and the quarterback pointed to that performance when he was asked if injuries were to blame for his performance yesterday.

“I can’t say the toe was a problem when I played two weeks ago and I played well on it,Mahomes said. “If you’re playing football, you have to battle through injuries. We’ll look at it tomorrow and make a final decision on it if we’re going to have to have surgery on it or not.”

Still, the injury sounds like it may have been more significant than Mahomes let on. A source told Rapoport that “it’s amazing how good [Mahome’s] looked considering the issue.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patrick Mahomes Clears Concussion Protocol

Jan. 22, 2:00pm: Mahomes has cleared the concussion protocol, as the star QB announced to reporters this afternoon. Players who are in the protocol don’t meet with the media, so the fact that Mahomes had press availability suggested that he had been given the all-clear, and that is indeed the case. With that, the much-anticipated showdown between Mahomes’ Chiefs and Josh Allen‘s Bills will have its headliners.

Jan. 20, 3:28pm: The Chiefs listed Mahomes as limited in today’s practice, though Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes this was more of an estimation on his status since the team partook in a light workout overall (Twitter link). But had Kansas City gone through a full practice, its all-world quarterback would have been limited. Reid said Mahomes has yet to be cleared for full contact work, per the Washington Post’s Mark Maske (on Twitter). This points to Thursday being a pivotal day for Mahomes, who is in the final stages of the concussion protocol.

Jan. 20, 10:31am: Patrick Mahomes will practice on Wednesday, but he’ll be taking it easy, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Chiefs quarterback remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol but plans to slowly ramp things up over the course of the week.

Fortunately, Mahomes is symptom-free after taking an ill-fated hard hit against the Browns. Mahomes was left dazed in the third quarter, forcing him out of the game in favor of Chad Henne. Henne had never thrown a postseason pass before — he went on to record his first ever playoff victory.

At this point, Mahomes is on track to be cleared in time for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. Still, there are hurdles to clear. Per the league’s protocol, the QB must go through five steps; his light Wednesday workout is part of step No. 4. After going through a full practice, Mahomes will need the green light from team doctors and an independent neurologist.

So listen, I just leave that with [team trainer] Rick [Burkholder] and the docs,” head coach Andy Reid said earlier this week. “Because of the protocol, it’s a no-brainer from the coach’s standpoint. You don’t have to think about it, you just have to make sure you go forward and have an answer if he’s there and an answer if he’s not there. I can’t tell you from a medical standpoint where he’s at. I mean, I don’t know that. That’s their decision and I just follow it.”

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Latest On Patrick Mahomes’ Injuries

While Patrick Mahomes must continue to clear hurdles in order to suit up for his third AFC championship game, the Chiefs continue to express optimism the former MVP and Super Bowl MVP will do so.

Mahomes cleared the necessary steps in concussion protocol Monday but remains in the protocol as of Tuesday. And he is indeed dealing with foot trouble as well, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes (Twitter links). The fourth-year quarterback appeared to be hobbling prior to his second-half concussion and will be battling multiple issues in order to face the Bills.

Mahomes is expected to practice Wednesday, though returning to workouts does not mean a player has completed the five-step protocol. Participation in light workouts, however, is the fourth phase of this process, with full practices being the final step. Chiefs doctors and an independent neurologist must clear Mahomes to play against the Bills.

Kansas City managed to beat a playoff-bound Minnesota team without Mahomes last season and held off Cleveland with Chad Henne at the controls. However, the Bills having won eight straight games — were it not for DeAndre Hopkins‘ miracle game-winner, said streak would be at 12 since Buffalo’s Week 6 loss to Kansas City — would make for an incredibly difficult Chiefs task without Mahomes. The superstar passer has missed just two games due to injury in his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.