Patrick Mahomes

Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Mahomes, Penn

The Dolphins have a number of running backs who could realistically earn the starting gig this season. Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore are the obvious frontrunners, and the organization is also expecting rookie Kalen Ballage to contribute at some point during the upcoming campaign.

With several options to choose from, running backs coach Eric Studesville made it sound like the Dolphins won’t necessarily opt for a two-headed (or even three-headed) monster.

“The guy that gives us the best chance to win, that gives the Miami Dolphins the best chance to win,” Studesville told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, “that’s who’s got to be the guy who’s out there for us and helping us win football games.

“We’ve got to get everybody up to speed to where they all know it, we’re all confident in our assignments and then let them go play. And they’re going to sort out what those roles are as we go. I don’t think we have that set right now. We just have to wait and see how it goes.”

As the Dolphins sort out their running back depth, let’s check out some more notes out of the AFC…

  • Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes received a number of endorsement offers during his rookie campaign. However, the quarterback ended up turning down those deals, as he was more focused on gaining the respect of his teammates (instead of cashing every possible check). “We talked about how the first year the goal was to integrate into the team, and the only way to do that is to pay deference to the incumbent veterans and try not to go into the situation with a high profile,” his agent, Leigh Steinberg, told ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We intentionally didn’t do endorsements that would run in the Kansas City area even though they were offered. We didn’t want him to be on billboards and everything when he wasn’t even playing.” While it sounds like plenty of local businesses want to capitalize on Mahomes’ fame, the signal-caller will surely be eyeing some national gigs if his development goes as planned.
  • During this past year’s draft, the Raiders used the 15th-overall pick to select left tackle Kolton Miller. That selection didn’t sit well with incumbent left tackle Donald Penn. “I’m not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called [coach Jon] Gruden immediately,” Penn said during as appearance on Michael Rapoport’s podcast (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He didn’t answer, but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, ‘You were ready to kick my a**, huh, Donald?! You were mad.” The 35-year-old, who has spent the past four years with the team, is still expected to start for the Raiders in 2018.
  • In case you missed it, the Dolphins made a pair of moves yesterday. The team signed first-round defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to his rookie contract, and they signed cornerback Bobby McCain to an extension later that afternoon.

Chiefs Would Consider Trading QB Alex Smith This Offseason

[UPDATE: Chiefs Expected To Trade Alex Smith]

It sounds like trade rumors will hound quarterback Alex Smith once again. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Chiefs will be open to trading the signal-caller this offseason. The reporter notes that the front office won’t “actively seek out trade partners,” but they’ll listen to any inquiries.

Alex SmithConsidering the veteran’s age and the presence of 2017 first-rounder Patrick Mahomes, Smith was mentioned in trade rumors last offseason. At the time, head coach Andy Reid and ownership offered their public support for the aging quarterback, and Smith responded with one of the best seasons of his career. The 33-year-old set several career-highs in 2017, including passing yards (4,042) and touchdowns (26). He also completed 67.5-percent of his passes and threw only five interceptions, leading to some early-season MVP rumblings.

Of course, Smith is set to make $17MM next season, and Mahomes looked solid during his Week 17 start (22-of-35 for 284 yards). As Rapoport mentions, the team could surely receive more than the pair of second-rounders they gave up when they acquired Smith from San Francisco in 2013. Still, the Chiefs earned the four seed in the AFC this season, and the reporter warns that the team could hold on to Smith if they make a run to the Super Bowl. In other words, trade talks surely won’t heat up under Kansas City’s season is officially over.

Rapoport lists a number of teams that could have interest in the veteran quarterback, including the Jets, Broncos, Jaguars, Bills, Browns, and Cardinals. He specifically notes that Arizona had interest in Smith back when he was on the 49ers, and he says the Broncos have already considered a pursuit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Start Patrick Mahomes In Week 17

The Chiefs won the AFC West in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, and they’ll have a unique opportunity to gauge their first-round pick’s development because of their spot in the AFC standings.

Being locked into the No. 4 seed, the Chiefs will start Patrick Mahomes against the Broncos, Andy Reid said (via B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com, on Twitter). Mahomes has yet to play this season, but with the 9-6 Chiefs guaranteed to play in the 4-5 game next weekend, it marks an interesting chance to see Mahomes in action.

Alex Smith has been the Chiefs’ starter for the past five seasons. Smith’s been the longest-tenured Chiefs starter since Trent Green, but he has just one season remaining on his contract and saw Kansas City trade up from No. 28 to No. 10 to select Mahomes — their first first-round quarterback investment since 1983. Reid said Smith is having an “MVP-caliber” season and understands the team’s situation going into a meaningless Week 17 game in Denver (Twitter link via Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star).

So, it doesn’t sound like the Chiefs will have a Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson situation on their hands this weekend, regardless of how Mahomes performs (the 1999 Bills played Johnson in a meaningless regular-season finale then started the younger player over the incumbent in the Music City Miracle loss to the Titans in what’s turned out to be their most recent playoff game).

Mahomes will take the first-team reps in practice this week, with Smith running the scout team, Reid said (via Paylor, on Twitter). The Texas Tech product will face the Broncos’ 2016 first-round pick, Paxton Lynch, who will be making his second start of the season. While Lynch will be going against a backup-laden Chiefs defense, with Reid set to rest starters (Twitter link via Paylor), Mahomes will face a Broncos defense that’s been one of the best in the NFL this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Broncos, Fitz, Mahomes, Rams

The Broncos my have lost their 10th game of the season on Sunday, but they also got a glimpse at a potential quarterback target in Washington signal caller Kirk Cousins. Playing on his second straight franchise tag, the 29-year-old posted close to 300 yards and tossed three scores against a very formidable Broncos defense. It was a performance that made Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post ask, “is Cousins worth $30MM?”

In fact, many Broncos defenders seemed to think that he could be worth that type of investment this offseason.

“A lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller said.

“He’s the real deal as a quarterback,” Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall added.

Kiszla proclaimed that Cousins is unlikely to get another franchise tag given just how detrimental a guaranteed cap number like that would be on the Redskins roster. This would mean that Denver would have the opportunity to invest a lot of money in the soon-to-be free agent QB.

Denver clearly needs to address their quarterback situation this offseason. It’s clear that Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler are more backups, with Paxton Lynch still needing major development even when he gets healthy.

There’s a lot of QB needy teams in the NFL, but the Broncos got a personal look on Sunday of what Cousins could bring to a team that’s been craving any sort of offense since Peyton Manning retired after their Super Bowl 50 run.

Here’s more from the NFL’s West divisions:

  • Even though Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald signed a one-year contract extension during the season, that does not mean it’s a guarantee he will return to the football field in 2018. However, Fitz looks to be in a much better position to return than a year ago, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport suggests that the 34-year-old is much healthier than at the conclusion of the 2016 regular season. He’s also on track to post better numbers this year, as he’s just slightly behind his 2016 totals in receptions and yards, while just needing another touchdown to surpass his six scores from a season ago. Fitzgerald is a surefire Hall of Famer as well, but could also be motivated to surpass Terrell Owens on the all-time receiving list. He sits just a few hundred yards behind T.O. and would assuredly pass him if he remains healthy in 2018. Fitz has clearly shown that he can continue to play at a high level in his mid-30’s, so there’s hope from Cardinals fans he could return for another season in Arizona.
  • With their win yesterday, the Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and the fourth seed in the AFC. This means that rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes could get the start or at least see a lot of playing time in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Broncos. But as expected, head coach Andy Reid wasn’t tipping his hand about how the team will approach the QB position next week. “We’ll get through Christmas and then we’ll get on with that,” Reid said. There had been some speculation that Reid may turn to Mahomes during the team’s midseason losing streak, but veteran Alex Smith has bounced back in a big way and led Kansas City to their second straight division title. Mahomes has been playing with the scout team and would probably be well served in getting some actual playing time in his first professional season.
  • While it was a very good day for a Rams franchise that clinched their first division title since 2003, the team was forced to deal with injuries to a pair of starters, reports Aiden Gonzalez of ESPN.com. Left guard Rodger Saffold was forced to exit the game with a rib injury, but head coach Sean McVay said after the victory that, “I think he’s OK.”. Gonzalez added that Saffold was “seen in good spirits” in the postgame celebration as well. However, linebacker Mark Barron‘s achilles injury could be worse than expected. The 28-year-old was a suprise inactive in Week 16 and has dealt with a variety of minor ailments throughout the season, according to Gonzalez. McVay wasn’t as clear with how his prognosis looked for the remainder of the season. “We’ll have some updates on that moving forward,” said the Rams head coach. If Barron should miss time, backup Cory Littleton would likely be forced into the starting lineup.

Draft Notes: Mayfield, Rosen, Cards, Nelson

The expected recipient of this season’s Heisman Trophy, Baker Mayfield figures to generate plenty of opinions during the pre-draft process. Some of the immediate responses from NFL evaluators have been positive following the Oklahoma senior’s dominant regular season. Albert Breer of SI.com surmises from the several-dozen scouts he’s spoken to throughout the season that Mayfield should wind up as a first-round pick, his baggage notwithstanding.

He’s extremely talented,” an AFC college scouting director told Breer. “Guys want to play for him, players believe in him, the staff believes in him. I’ve heard the comparisons to (Drew) Brees, (Johnny) Manziel, (Russell) Wilson, and there’s a little bit of all of them in his game. And he’s not Manziel in terms of the off-field stuff — he studies his ass off; he goes through his progressions; he’s not a typical spread QB. He has first-round ability.”

Mayfield’s height, around 6-foot, could be an issue for some teams. And his Big 12 background may as well. But Breer expects a first-round investment to occur.

Here’s more on Mayfield and other key prospects.

  • Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com polled five NFL execs regarding Mayfield’s best destination and didn’t get one definitive answer. While some quarterback-needy teams came up, two decision-makers mentioned the Saints and Chargers as Mayfield fits. Both suggest multiyear apprenticeships behind Brees and Philip Rivers. However, a source told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report Rivers’ resurgence has “basically shut down” the prospect of the Bolts making a quarterback-of-the-future pick in the upcoming first round. Rivers turned 36 on Friday.
  • Josh Rosen is the likeliest of the likely first-round quarterbacks to start from Day 1, a group of seven executives polled by Yahoo Sports concluded. The UCLA passer’s throwing motion is “as elite as it gets for a prospect,” Charles Robinson of Yahoo writes. That septet of execs rated Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Mayfield as the Nos. 2-4 prospects and likely first-rounders. Darnold’s elongated throwing motion and tendency to bail on plays, in the mind of some evaluators, could cost him the No. 1 spot. Allen received the “project” label in this piece, but the Wyoming product’s size/speed/arm strength combination could be enticing — especially come workout time.
  • On Allen, Miller notes the Cardinals are connected to the current junior signal-caller. Miller writes the Cardinals abandoned their first-round quarterback crusade after Patrick Mahomes went to the Chiefs at No. 10, with the team declaring it was going to delay its Carson Palmer succession strategy a year. Allen may be the next guy the Cards are eyeing, viewing his athleticism and potential — and presumably the likelihood he won’t be a top-two pick like the Pac-12 passers — as Mahomes-esque. That might not mean much at the moment, with Mahomes having yet to play, but Miller expects Allen to be a top-10 pick. That’s more than could have been said for Mahomes at this point in last year’s process. The Jets remain the team that’s done the most work on Allen, however.
  • In a post connecting teams with prospects, Miller notes the Bears are “all about” Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. However, the draft analyst notes the Bears are expected to land a top-10 pick. Ridley, in his mind, does not qualify for such an investment.
  • Notre Dame’s offensive line figures to produce two first-round talents in tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. While McGlinchy’s name has hovered on draft radars longer, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com notes Nelson is viewed as the better prospect among scouts. One scout declared Nelson was the best prospect he’d seen this season “by far.” Miller notes the Broncos have Nelson rated as the top offensive lineman on their early board.
  • Cowboys coaching and scouting sources told Miller the team doesn’t expect to be holding mid-first-round picks much in the near future, and he writes the team will pursue a higher-end pass rusher “while it can.” That’s bold thinking for a team that is 6-6 and has missed the playoffs in five seasons this decade, but the Cowboys did earn home-field advantage last season. And the need for an impact end remains.

Andy Reid To Hand Over Play-Calling Duties

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid will hand over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy for the team’s game against the Jets today, as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen tweets. Reid will “continue to have oversight” of the play-calling, per Mortensen, which means that he will retain veto power over Nagy’s decisions.

Andy Reid

Reid’s decision comes on the heels of a horrible stretch for Kansas City, which started the season 5-0 only to lose five of its next six. The Chiefs’ sputtering offense has been a big reason for its slide, and quarterback Alex Smith has experienced a precipitous drop-off in his quality of play after looking like a legitimate MVP candidate earlier in the season. Reid apparently decided enough is enough and is hoping a new voice in Smith’s ear will give him a bit of a boost.

As Mortensen observes (via Twitter), this is not the first time that Reid has done something like this, as he has temporarily ceded play-calling responsibilities to his offensive coordinators in both Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Even more interesting is Mortensen’s tweet concerning Smith himself. Although Reid has steadfastly supported his incumbent signal-caller — and just last week we heard that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie Patrick Mahomes this season if Smith were to get hurt — Mortensen suggests that, if Smith struggles against New York today, Mahomes could get the nod.

Nagy, of course, is a popular head-coaching candidate who could get his first chance to lead an NFL team this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Should The Chiefs Start Patrick Mahomes?

The Chiefs looked to be one of the best teams in the NFL after a 5-0 start. However, the team has taken a nosedive as of late, losing three straight games and dropping five out of their past six.

"<strongA major reason for the hot start had been the outstanding play they’d been getting from veteran quarterback Alex Smith. Known as one of the better game managers at the position, Smith had been criticized for his inability to carry the Chiefs to victory on his own. However, Smith was a legit MVP candidate earlier in the year, throwing the ball down field more, while continuing to limit mistakes. The team already had a solid roster across the board, considering that they finished as the AFC’s second best team heading into the playoffs last season. Smith also was given exciting playmakers in TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill and rookie RB Kareem Hunt.

Still, even with all these weapons and a weak conference, the Chiefs find themselves in a real fight to just make the playoffs. This has led to speculation that Kansas City could turn to rookie backup Patrick Mahomes for a little shot in the arm. Although the team clearly thinks highly of their 2017 first round pick, head coach Andy Reid stayed committed to Smith after the Chiefs loss today.

That’s not where I am at right now,” Reid said in today’s postgame press conference (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).

Reid is notably close to the vest, but even he can’t deny that his team is in a bad way right now. Replacing Smith with Mahomes would be a huge risk considering that despite his great raw ability, the former Texas Tech QB was classified as incredibly raw coming into the draft.

It’s a storyline that we didn’t think would hold any credence given the Chiefs fast start, but there might be increased noise to make this move if Kansas City can’t turn things around in the weeks to come.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Notes: Chiefs, Mahomes, Taylor, Bills

The latest on two quarterback situations to watch:

  • Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters after Sunday’s game that he didn’t consider replacing Alex Smith at quarterback. He also says he isn’t thinking about turning to Patrick Mahomes in KC’s next game. “That’s not where I am at right now,” Reid said (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Smith had a rough outing on Sunday, leading many to call for the first-round rookie to take his place. The Chiefs – who are still in the mix for the AFC West crown – have dropped three straight and five of their last six.
  • Bills coach Sean McDermott says “Tyrod Taylor is “our quarterback for next week,” (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). On Sunday, Taylor led Buffalo to victory over Kansas City, a win that snapped a three-game losing streak. It’s no surprise that Taylor will remain at the helm given the W and Nathan Peterman‘s ugly five-interception game last week. If the Bills continue to win with Taylor, it could push the team to reverse course and stick with him for 2018. The Bills have the option to retain Taylor for 2018 with a reasonable $10MM salary and a $6MM roster bonus. If they want to go in a different direction, they can cut him before the bonus date in March and eat just $1MM.
  • The Chiefs need to start thinking about a shift to Mahomes, ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher argues. The Chiefs were the league’s last unbeaten team at 5-0, but their playoff position is now in serious peril. It would be a lot for KC to ask Mahomes to take over right now, but Teicher is of the opinion that the Chiefs should make the switch if Smith falters again. Smith, entering his age-34 season, is under contract for 2018 at a $20.6MM cap number. The Chiefs can save $17MM and eat just $3.6MM by releasing him before June 1, however. Installing Mahomes as the starter could help the Chiefs salvage this season while better informing their big decision in the offseason.

AFC West Notes: A. Smith, Broncos, M. Williams

After jumping out to a 5-0 start this year, the Chiefs have lost four of their last five games, making themselves vulnerable to the surging Chargers and even the Raiders in the AFC West. The team’s offensive struggles have contributed to that swoon, and quarterback Alex Smith has fallen off a bit after a torrid first half. He is coming off a miserable performance in Kansas City’s loss to the lowly Giants last week, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that the Chiefs would only turn to rookie first-rounder Patrick Mahomes if Smith were to get hurt. Smith will remain under center the rest of the year, though Kansas City still plans to shop him in the offseason as it prepares to usher in the Mahomes era.

Now for more notes from the AFC West:

  • New Chiefs CB Darrelle Revis will likely make his Kansas City debut next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Paxton Lynch is back under center for the Broncos, and Rapoport (video link) says they want him to start the rest of the year so they can fairly evaluate what they have in last year’s first-rounder. The team will run a much simpler offensive scheme for Lynch than what it employed under former OC Mike McCoy, and Lynch has been encouraged to simply do what he does best, which is run around and improvise.
  • We learned earlier today that the Raiders are likely to fire OC Todd Downing at season’s end, and that McCoy is an obvious candidate to replace him. Within that story, we cited another La Canfora article in which the CBS scribe reported that the McCoy firing might have been just the tip of the iceberg for the Broncos. He suggests that there is speculation that head coach Vance Joseph could be out after just one year on the job, and at the very least, that Denver could shake up other parts of its coaching staff.
  • Broncos GM John Elway has taken a lot of heat for his club’s 3-7 record in 2017, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says that criticism is largely unwarranted. In an interesting piece that pits Elway’s draft results against those of his long-tenured colleagues, Elway comes out near the top of the heap of NFL general managers, which makes Klis believe he will be able to turn the ship around in 2018.
  • We learned Friday that Chargers rookie wideout Mike Williams avoided an ACL tear during his team’s Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys, and Rapoport tweets that Williams has been diagnosed with a bone bruise. While Williams is expected to miss next week’s contest against the Browns, he will be week-to-week thereafter, which is a big deal for a team that has forced its way back into the playoff hunt.