Felix Anudike-Uzomah

AFC Rumors: Quessenberry, Jones, Meyers, Anudike-Uzomah

The Bills seemingly signed veteran offensive tackle Brandon Shell with the intention that he would plug in as a full-time starter, much like he had done in Miami, Seattle, and New York over his career. Shell’s sudden retirement decision days ago threw a bit of a wrench in those plans.

At left tackle, Dion Dawkins slots in as the obvious left tackle starter, as he has since his rookie year. The starter across from him, for right now, is currently Spencer Brown. Brown has started 24 games over his first two years in the league, but the ability of the former third-round pick to start long term has yet to be proven.

If Brown struggles or if he or Dawkins go down with injury, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic reports that David Quessenberry is expected to slot into the primary backup, swing tackle role. Buffalo doesn’t have a ton of depth beyond Quessenberry, and this late in the season, that’s not too likely to change.

Tommy Doyle and Ryan Van Demark both sit on the depth chart behind Quessenberry and should make a push for the initial 53-man roster, if not solely due to the lack of depth. But Quessenberry should be the first name off the bench in the case that Brown or Dawkins aren’t there for any reason.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of the AFC, starting with another team in the AFC East:

  • The Patriots have been operating the past two weeks without veteran starting cornerback Jonathan Jones. The long-time staple in New England’s secondary has been absent with an undisclosed injury. Luckily, whatever the ailment is, Karen Guregian of MassLive reports that Jones is expected to be back for the team’s regular season opener. The Patriots are reportedly being careful with him, but the plan is for him to be starting a couple Sundays from now.
  • Last month, the Raiders concluded a deal that would eventually help them bring in veteran cornerback Marcus Peters. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the team converted $3.92MM of wide receiver Jakobi Meyers‘s base salary for 2023 into a signing bonus and added two voidable years. The move takes his base salary down from $5MM in 2023 to $1.08MM but freed up $3.14MM of cap space, helping Las Vegas to continue building their roster this offseason.
  • Staying in the AFC West, the rich got richer when the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs added Kansas State pass rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah at the end of the first round this past April. Most of the team’s pass rushing comes from interior lineman Chris Jones, but with Frank Clark gone, a starting role was open across from George Karlaftis III. Kansas City signed Charles Omenihu to potentially fill that role, but he is set to serve a six-game suspension to start the season. Still, according to The Athletic contributor Nate Taylor’s recent update, the plan for Anudike-Uzomah appears to be for him to appear out of a rotation. The team may explore adding an additional veteran pass rusher to help holdover the role in Omenihu’s absence, but in the long run, they don’t want to rush Anudike-Uzomah out on the field until he’s ready.

Chiefs Agree To Deal With Round 1 DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah

Felix Anudike-Uzomah was the last player to hear his name called on Day 1 of the draft, and his NFL career is now set to officially begin. The defensive end has signed his rookie deal with the Chiefs, per ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link).

Anudike-Uzomah will be on the books for at least four years, but his time in Kansas City could be extended by one season via the fifth-year option. By the time they have to make that decision (during the 2026 offseason), the Kansas State product will likely have played a notable role in the team’s edge rushing group. His rookie campaign could see rotational usage at first, but his potential could lead to more down the line.

The 6-3, 252-pounder put up considerable numbers in each of final two seasons with the Wildcats. He recorded 11 sacks in 2021, following that up with 8.5 last year. Anudike-Uzomah added 25.5 tackles for loss during that span, along with eight forced fumbles. That production earned him Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors in each campaign, and put him on the first-round radar as one of the top members of a deep class of pass rushers amongst this year’s prospects.

The Chiefs represented a logical trade-down candidate since the N0. 31 pick was the final one in the first round for this year, in the event teams looked to secure the fifth-year option on a quarterback in particular. Kansas City ultimately stayed put at that spot, though, and used their first pick on an edge rusher for the second consecutive draft.

Anudike-Uzomah joins George Karlaftis as a first-rounder tasked with leading the team’s outside pass rush, and in doing so taking responsibility away from star defensive tackle Chris Jones. A thumb surgery may cost Anudike-Uzomah time during OTAs, but he should still have plenty of opportunities to carve out a role behind Karlaftis and free agent addition Charles Omenihu. Pass rush production will be a key area of interest for the Chiefs after the release of Frank Clark, but Anudike-Uzomah figures to be a signficant contributor in that department in the short- and medium-term future.

Chiefs Notes: Taylor, Smith, Pacheco, Anudike-Uzomah, Rice

The Chiefs had planned to move career right tackle Jawaan Taylor to the left side. Instead, they are flipping their tackle salary structure. Donovan Smith is now in the fold, and Taylor is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid right tackle.

Andy Reid confirmed (via ESPN’s Adam Teicher) the Chiefs will begin their offseason work with Smith, signed to a one-year deal worth up to $9MM late last week, at left tackle and Taylor on the right side. Considering Smith has only played left tackle as a pro and Taylor spending his entire Jacksonville tenure as a right-sider, it is logical the Chiefs will not rock the boat here.

This is an about-face given the Chiefs’ initial Taylor plan, and while it is interesting the defending champions are abandoning it months before pads come on, Reid did leave the door open last month for Taylor to be kicked back to the right side. A right tackle at Florida and with the Jags, Taylor represents an upgrade for the Chiefs at that post.

Smith will replace Orlando Brown Jr. While the latter earned back-to-back Pro Bowl nods with the Chiefs, Smith manned the Buccaneers’ blindside spot for eight seasons. During an offseason in which the team needed to shed almost $60MM in cap space, Tampa Bay made Smith a cap casualty in early March. The soon-to-be 30-year-old blocker resided as one of the few players left unsigned among PFR’s top 50 free agents.

Kansas City making right tackle its top O-line investment deviates from recent years, when the team used low-cost vet Andrew Wylie and third-round pick Lucas Niang as its primary options at the position. But the Chiefs’ initial Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl-winning team did have two tackles — Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz — signed to veteran deals. While the team prioritized Brown in 2021 via the trade with the Ravens, right tackle did not bring similar attention. The Smith signing changes that, as Taylor signed the top O-line deal — AAV-wise, at $20MM — in free agency. Smith’s $9MM deal checks in at $4MM in base value, Albert Breer of SI.com notes.

Elsewhere on the Chiefs’ roster, Reid confirmed running back Isiah Pacheco and first-round defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah are recovering from surgeries. Pacheco underwent procedures to repair a broken hand and a torn labrum, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. He does not have a return timetable, though the Chiefs do not sound concerned the 2022 seventh-round pick will miss regular-season time. Anudike-Uzomah, this year’s No. 31 overall pick, underwent thumb surgery before the draft and could be ready by the time the Chiefs begin OTAs later this month.

At receiver, the Chiefs had Mahomes work out with a few rookie prospects. Zay Flowers and Quentin Johnston were among those to train with the reigning MVP in Texas. But Chiefs second-round pick Rashee Rice also linked up with Mahomes for a pre-draft training session. The SMU product, whom the Chiefs took in the second round, formed a connection with the superstar quarterback, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes.

The Chiefs have now taken a second-round receiver in each of the past two drafts, with Rice following Skyy Moore. These two join Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney as the Chiefs’ top receivers. Kansas City has been connected to a DeAndre Hopkins pursuit, but the Cardinals may now be prepared to keep him. The Chiefs, who lost J.J. Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman to the AFC East in free agency, are also preparing to give Toney — his injury past notwithstanding — a bigger role heading into his first full K.C. season.

Chiefs Select DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah With No. 31 Pick

The defending Super Bowl champs are adding some talent on the defensive side of the ball. With the final pick of the first round, the Chiefs have selected Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.

Anudike-Uzomah was not one of the most popular edge prospects, but he was certainly one of the most productive pass rushers in college football. Over his final two seasons at Kansas State, the defensive end compiled 19.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss, leading to Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year honors in both seasons. These performances also put up firmly on the NFL map.

The D-lineman has been lauded for his strength and size, although there were questions if he’d be a first-round pick due to his lack of fundamentals. The Chiefs are hoping they’ll be able to get the most out of their first-round investment, and the defending champs are fortunate that they won’t need to rush Anudike-Uzomah into a significant defensive role.

This will also mark a homecoming for Anudike-Uzomah. Prior to playing his college ball in Manhattan, Kansas, he suited up at Kansas City, Missouri-area high school Lee’s Summit. The Chiefs will add the local product to their Chris Jones-fronted pass rush. Jones’ status as an elite D-lineman notwithstanding, the team entered the draft with an edge need after shedding Frank Clark‘s contract this offseason.

The Chiefs also addressed the defensive end spot in the 2022 first round, taking George Karlaftis, and they’re also rostering the likes of Charles Omenihu, Mike Danna, and Malik Herring. With Karlaftis and Omenihu as the team’s top options, Anudike-Uzomah could be ticketed for a regular off-the-bench role as a rookie.