Kadarius Toney

Chiefs Decline WR Kadarius Toney’s Fifth-Year Option

Kadarius Toney is on track to remain with the Chiefs this season, but his future beyond that point is uncertain. The ex-Giant receiver’s fifth-year option has been declined, per ESPN’s Adam Teicher.

[RELATED: Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Toney would have cost $14.35MM in 2025 had Kansas City picked up his option, so it comes as little surprise the team has elected against doing so. The 25-year-old had a season to forget in 2023, finding himself on the injury report 19 weeks out of 21 (a matter of contention by the end of the postseason) and frequently struggling with drops. In all, Toney totaled just 169 yards and one touchdown on 27 catches.

Midway through his second season in the league, the Florida product was dealt to Kansas City in a move underscoring his disappointing tenure with New York. Things have not gone according to plan with the Chiefs so far, but head coach Andy Reid has expressed confidence in Toney playing a role in the team’s offense in 2024. With the coming season doubling as his walk year, it will be interesting to see how he performs.

The Chiefs won a second straight Super Bowl last season, but they did so without a consistent or efficient passing game. Tight end Travis Kelce will remain the team’s top receiving target for at least two more years, but it came as no surprise that the team has emphasized WR additions this offseason. Marquise Brown was signed in free agency on a one-year deal, and Kansas City moved up in the first round of the draft to select Xavier Worthy.

Both of those players are positioned to have a notable impact in 2024, something which may not be the case for Toney. The team still has fellow wideouts Justin Watson, Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice in the fold (although the latter’s future is currently in question). Staying healthy will be an obvious priority for Toney, and doing so could create a path to playing time in 2024. If that does not turn out to be the case, however, he will likely make his first trip to free agency without much fanfare.

2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker

NFL teams have until May 2 to officially pick up fifth-year options on 2021 first-rounders. The 2020 CBA revamped the option structure and made them fully guaranteed, rather than guaranteed for injury only. Meanwhile, fifth-year option salaries are now determined by a blend of the player’s position, initial draft placement and performance- and usage-based benchmarks:

  • Two-time Pro Bowlers (excluding alternates) will earn the same as their position’s franchise tag
  • One-time Pro Bowlers will earn the equivalent of the transition tag
  • Players who achieve any of the following will receive the average of the third-20th-highest salaries at their position:
    • At least a 75% snap rate in two of their first three seasons
    • A 75% snap average across all three seasons
    • At least 50% in each of first three seasons
  • Players who do not hit any of those benchmarks will receive the average of the third-25th top salaries at their position

With the deadline looming, we will use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league:

  1. QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($25.66MM): Exercised
  2. QB Zach Wilson, Broncos* ($22.41MM): Declined
  3. QB Trey Lance, Cowboys** ($22.41MM): Declined
  4. TE Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($10.88MM): Exercised
  5. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals ($21.82MM): Exercised
  6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins ($15.59MM): Exercised
  7. T Penei Sewell, Lions ($19MM): Extended through 2029
  8. CB Jaycee Horn, Panthers ($12.47MM): Exercised
  9. CB Patrick Surtain, Broncos ($19.82MM): Exercised
  10. WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($15.59MM): Extended through 2028
  11. QB Justin Fields, Steelers*** ($25.66MM): Declined
  12. DE Micah Parsons, Cowboys ($21.32MM): Exercised
  13. T Rashawn Slater, Chargers ($19MM): Exercised
  14. OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, Jets ($13.31MM): Exercised
  15. QB Mac Jones, Jaguars**** ($25.66MM): Declined
  16. LB Zaven Collins, Cardinals ($13.25MM): Declined
  17. T Alex Leatherwood, Raiders: N/A
  18. LB Jaelan Phillips, Dolphins ($13.3MM): Exercised
  19. LB Jamin Davis, Commanders ($14.48MM): Declined
  20. WR Kadarius Toney, Chiefs***** ($14.35MM): Declined
  21. DE Kwity Paye, Colts ($13.4MM): Exercised
  22. CB Caleb Farley, Titans ($12.47MM): Declined
  23. T Christian Darrisaw, Vikings ($16MM): Exercised
  24. RB Najee Harris, Steelers ($6.79MM): Declined
  25. RB Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($6.14MM): Exercised
  26. CB Greg Newsome, Browns ($13.38MM): To be exercised
  27. WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens ($14.35MM): N/A; extended through 2026
  28. DE Payton Turner, Saints ($13.39MM): Declined
  29. CB Eric Stokes, Packers ($12.47MM): Declined
  30. DE Greg Rousseau, Bills ($13.39MM): Exercised
  31. LB Odafe Oweh, Ravens ($13.25MM): Exercised
  32. LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Buccaneers ($13.25MM): Declined

* = Jets traded Wilson on April 22, 2024
** = 49ers traded Lance on August 25, 2023
*** = Bears traded Fields on March 16, 2024
**** = Patriots traded Jones on March 10, 2024
***** = Giants traded Toney on October 27, 2022

Kadarius Toney Still In Chiefs’ Plans; Latest On Rashee Rice

It certainly would be understandable if the Chiefs washed their hands of Kadarius Toney after the events of 2023. Although the shifty wide receiver stayed healthier than he did in 2021 and ’22, his inconsistency cost the eventual champions during a clunky season for its passing attack.

Patrick Mahomes‘ first QBR finish outside the top five (eighth) involved a 14th-place finish in passer rating, and drops from Travis Kelce and his far less reliable wide receiver corps played a major role in an inconsistent Chiefs regular season. Toney was the lead culprit, and his infamous offside infraction and Week 16 drop that led to a Patriots interception highlighted a bad season from the first-round pick. The Chiefs went 6-0 down the stretch with Toney and Skyy Moore inactive; the former was a healthy scratch in Super Bowl LVIII.

That roster decision came after Toney criticized the Chiefs in a rant before the AFC championship game. The former Giants first-rounder accused the team of lying about his injury status. Kansas City’s injury report listed Toney as being out due to ankle and hip injuries for the AFC decider in Baltimore. Toney, whom the Giants moved due to reliability concerns, totaled just 169 receiving yards in 13 games last season.

The Chiefs owe Toney $2.53MM in guaranteed salary in his contract year. While the Marquise Brown addition will likely precede another high draft choice being used on a receiver (especially in light of the Rashee Rice developments), Andy Reid is not closing the book on Toney’s time in Kansas City.

Listen, I mean, Kadarius is arguably one of the most talented guys we have on the team. It’s just a matter of staying healthy and being able to stay on the field,” Reid said (h/t Yardbarker.com’s Clark Dalton). “You always hear about the reliability, accountability, all those things that go into it. And so, I’m expecting him to come back ripping and ready to go.

With the Giants, Toney encountered chronic hamstring trouble; ankle, quad, knee and oblique issues also sidelined the Florida alum during his first two seasons. Frequently absent with the Giants and Chiefs in 2022, Toney logged 15 missed games over his first two seasons. After being forced out of the 2022 AFC title game, however, Toney set a Super Bowl record with a 65-yard punt return; that came shortly after a 5-yard touchdown reception in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII win over the Eagles.

Kansas City’s top three receivers for 2024 could consist of Brown, Rice and a to-be-determined draftee. That would leave Toney and Moore’s roles uncertain. Rice, however, has a host of issues to navigate.

Reid said (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport) Rice is virtually attending the Chiefs’ offseason program after being booked on eight felony charges in connection with a hit-and-run incident in Dallas. This has thrown another significant offseason hurdle into the equation for the Chiefs. Kansas City has been here before with a wide receiver, with Tyreek Hill being banned from the team facility — amid a second bout of off-field trouble — during the 2019 offseason.

It remains to be seen how the NFL will proceed with Rice, who is cooperating with authorities after a six-car accident that came shortly after his car reached 119mph, per the Dallas Morning News’ Jamie Landers and Kelli Smith. Rice, who was believed to be street racing through traffic on a Dallas highway, suffered minor injuries in the wreck.

The team’s top 2023 wideout staying away from the first phase of the Chiefs’ offseason program affects the roles of Toney and Moore, who did not live up to expectations in 2023. A suspension stands to be in the cards for Rice, though he has a significant legal matter to deal with before an NFL ban reaches the front burner. For now, Toney remains a Chief, as it appears Reid is fine giving him another shot.

Kadarius Toney Accuses Chiefs Of Lying About Injury Status; Toney A Healthy Scratch For Super Bowl

FEBRUARY 11: Toney was not on the Chiefs’ final injury report for Super Bowl LVIII, but he is not expected to play in the title game, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The healthy scratch may well represent the end of Toney’s time in Kansas City.

JANUARY 28: Finishing out a disappointing season with the Chiefs, Kadarius Toney has not played since Week 16. Injuries have been a constant during the 2021 first-round pick’s career, and he is listed as out for today’s AFC championship game due to a hip injury. It appears Toney is disputing this designation.

In an expletive-laden Instagram Live tirade, Toney accused the Chiefs of lying about his injury. Kansas City’s injury report listed Toney as being out due to ankle and hip injuries ahead of the wild-card and divisional-round games; only a hip issue is listed this week.

This rant occurred hours before today’s game kicked off, and given Toney’s performance to date, it could change his status with the Chiefs. Toney, who turned 25 on Saturday, was a full practice participant Wednesday but was listed as limited Thursday and Friday. The team downgraded Toney to out Saturday. The Chiefs had hoped Toney could grow into a No. 1-caliber wide receiver this season; he has fallen well short of expectations.

Acquired for third- and sixth-round picks before the 2022 trade deadline, Toney has proven unreliable in New York and Kansas City. Injuries significantly limited him with the Giants, and they cropped up immediately following his move to the Chiefs. Hamstring trouble largely derailed his final weeks as a Giant, but during his three-year career, the shifty wide receiver has dealt with ankle, quad, oblique and knee trouble since coming off the 2021 draft board 20th overall. The Giants dealt Toney due to reliability concerns; those have not dissipated in Kansas City.

Toney suffered a meniscus tear minutes into Chiefs training camp this summer, but he was back in time for the team’s opener. This has been by far Toney’s healthiest season, but it has also brought him more attention for consistency issues not involving health. Toney drops represented part of the Chiefs’ long-running receiver issues, and his offside infraction negated his own go-ahead touchdown in a narrow loss to the Bills in December. During Toney’s most recent game active, he dropped a pass that led to a Patrick Mahomes INT (and a dismayed reaction from the superstar quarterback).

The birth of Toney’s daughter also factors into his absence, with the Chiefs listing him as out due to “hip/personal” reasons. Moving beyond the issue of Toney’s accusation, this rant certainly stands to spell trouble for his future with the defending champions. Toney has just 27 receptions for 169 yards this season, and while his Super Bowl-record punt return provided a boost in the Chiefs’ narrow Super Bowl LVII win, his absence appears to have helped streamline the 2023 squad’s passing attack. The Chiefs have performed better without inconsistent wideouts Toney and Skyy Moore available; Moore remains in the IR-return window.

It would cost the Chiefs $2.53MM to cut or trade Toney after this season. One year remains on his contract. Toney’s stock already plummeted during his time in New York, and while he has displayed an intriguing skillset, the Florida alum’s trade value is obviously low at the close of his third season.

Chiefs Designate WR Mecole Hardman For Return; Latest On Kadarius Toney’s Role

Unavailable for most of his Giants stay and part of his first season with the Chiefs, Kadarius Toney has managed to stay healthy this year. That has, however, not translated to the game-breaking plays the Chiefs sought upon trading third- and sixth-round picks to acquire him. Instead, Toney has become the face of the team’s wide receiver problem.

The third-year player’s crucial offside infraction against the Bills preceded a Patriots game that featured a drop that led to an interception. The Chiefs viewed Toney as a potential No. 1 receiver this offseason, but the shifty ex-first-rounder has only caught 27 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown this year.

With the Chiefs’ options limited at wide receiver due to injuries and an offseason that featured a few upgrade efforts fail to cross the goal line, they are unlikely to remove Toney from a regular role on offense. Toney should be expected to remain part of the receiver rotation, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes.

Kansas City’s receiver troubles extend beyond Toney. Skyy Moore, whom the team placed on IR this week, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have made critical mistakes. While JuJu Smith-Schuster has underwhelmed in New England, his departure — after a 933-yard 2022 season — has been noticeable in Kansas City. The team will continue to depend on second-rounder Rashee Rice‘s development, as the SMU product holds a sizable yardage lead (754) among Chiefs wideouts.

The defending Super Bowl champions will have another option available soon. They designated Mecole Hardman for return Thursday, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Kansas City reacquired Hardman in October, bringing him back after a few uneventful months in New York. Hardman contributed as a returner and receiver from 2019-22, posting three 500-plus-yard seasons while a Tyreek Hill sidekick. An injury cut Hardman’s 2022 season short and ultimately kept him out of Super Bowl LVII, but he qualifies as an auxiliary Patrick Mahomes target in a time of need. Hardman, 25, suffered a sprained thumb against the Eagles last month.

That said, Hardman has been slow to reacclimate in Missouri. Although he caught just one pass with the Jets, the former second-round pick has just eight catches for 41 yards since rejoining the Chiefs. Hardman also fumbled a punt return during a loss to the Broncos. With Moore on IR and Toney unreliable, it would not surprise to see the team reintegrate Hardman soon once he is activated. The Chiefs, who have six IR activations remaining, have 21 days to move Hardman back to the active roster.

Chiefs Place WR Mecole Hardman On IR

It looks like the Chiefs may have to wait a little longer to see the dividends from their recent reacquisition of wide receiver Mecole Hardman as they have officially placed their former second-round pick on injured reserve. The move comes after Hardman reportedly sprained his thumb during the team’s loss to the Eagles last week.

Hardman had parted ways with his former team after signing a one-year free agent deal with the Jets. Despite proving to be a strong contributor in Kansas City over his first four seasons, highlighted by his scoring of 18 touchdowns over that time, Hardman struggled to break through the depth chart in New York.

It was understandable that Hardman may slot behind Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, and perhaps even Randall Cobb in the pecking order. It was the preference of head coach Robert Saleh for undrafted rookies like Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee that made spelled the doom of Hardman’s time in New York. This had Gang Green searching for a way to offload their offseason signing, eventually agreeing to a deal with Hardman’s former squad.

Unfortunately for Hardman, the fifth-year receiver has continued to struggle to find his role as the Chiefs have retooled their receiving corps. In four games back with his old team, Hardman has only eight catches for 41 yards. Unfortunately for Kansas City, they would still prefer to have him available, especially with wide receiver Kadarius Toney being ruled out of this Sunday’s contest in Las Vegas. Regardless, Hardman will be unavailable for at least the next four weeks.

In addition to placing Hardman on IR, the Chiefs also announced their two practice squad elevations for tomorrow’s clash with the Raiders. Wide receiver Montrell Washington will be called up to try and fill out the receiving corps with the absences of Hardman and Toney. Running back La’Mical Perine will also be called up to fill in for Jerick McKinnon, who has also been ruled out for tomorrow.

Travis Kelce Dealing With Knee Injury; Kadarius Toney On Track For Week 1

SEPTEMBER 6: While Kelce is dealing with significant swelling, Rapoport indicates he suffered a bone bruise. Considering the range of outcomes possible in the wake of this knee injury, the Chiefs appear to have dodged a bullet here.

SEPTEMBER 5, 3:48pm: Kelce remains uncertain to play in Week 1, per Rapoport and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, but this is not believed to be a serious knee injury. The Chiefs plan to wait for the swelling in the injured knee to subside before making a decision. Kelce’s ACL is intact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds. While it would not surprise to see the Chiefs exercise caution here given Kelce’s importance to the offense, it does not look like a long-term absence would be in the cards. Indeed, SI.com’s Albert Breer adds it is unlikely Kelce plays Thursday.

1:13pm: After missing nearly his entire rookie season due to a knee injury, Travis Kelce has become one of the NFL’s most durable players. But his status for Week 1 is suddenly in question.

Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee, per Andy Reid, and is not a lock to play in the Chiefs’ season opener. The injury occurred at practice Tuesday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The perennial All-Pro tight end has not missed a game due to injury since his 2013 rookie season.

On a better note for the defending Super Bowl champions, Kadarius Toney is practicing. Reid expects the injury-prone receiver to play against the Lions, ESPN’s Ed Werder tweets. Toney, who has battled a number of maladies since entering the league in 2021, missed several weeks after suffering a torn meniscus minutes into training camp. The Chiefs listed Toney and Kelce as limited practice participants.

Moving into Hall of Fame lock territory since pairing with Patrick Mahomes, Kelce did not truly begin his career until his age-25 season due to undergoing microfracture surgery during his rookie year. Unlike Jadeveon Clowney, who underwent the same procedure a year later, Kelce has not battled knee trouble in the seasons since. He has only missed three regular-season games — two due to Reid sitting starters in season finales, one due to COVID-19 — since returning in time for the 2014 opener.

Going into his age-34 season, Kelce has become one of the NFL’s all-time greats at tight end. He is riding a seven-year streak of 1,000-yard seasons; no other tight end has tallied more than four 1,000-yard years in total. The Chiefs relied on Kelce last season, trading Tyreek Hill and using a cast of lesser wide receivers, and got by in large part due to the receiving tight end’s consistency. Kelce set a new career high with 110 receptions, and his 1,338 yards approached his tight end-record 1,416 from 2020. It would obviously be quite the adjustment for the Chiefs to play without Kelce, considering their receiver makeup.

Toney represents a key part of that receiving group, but the Chiefs may look to limit the shifty wideout. Lower-body injuries have followed Toney from New York to Kansas City. Ankle, quad, oblique and knee trouble has plagued Toney, with an onslaught of hamstring issues – which at one point saw the talented youngster sidelined because of injuries to both legs – impeding his 2022 efforts. While Toney still recovered in time to make key contributions in Super Bowl LVII, his track record has reached the point he might not be able to handle a full receiver workload.

The Chiefs kept seven wide receivers on their active roster, adding to the uncertainty at the position following the free agency exits of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is the only proven option left at receiver for the Chiefs, though GM Brett Veach said 2022 second-rounder Skyy Moore is set for an every-down role after showing improvement this offseason. Kansas City also rosters second-round rookie Rashee Rice, free agent slot pickup Richie James, veteran backup Justin Watson and second-year UDFA Justyn Ross.

Additionally, the daily Chris Jones update does not bring good news for the Chiefs. Still no progress in negotiations, per Reid. Both Kelce and Jones played all 20 Chiefs contests last season. While Jones has been trending toward missing this game for a bit now, the eighth-year defensive tackle is close to missing a $1.1MM game check.

Aaron Donald skipped Week 1 while holding out in 2017, but he was attached to a rookie contract and the Rams ended up waiving his fines and paying him for the game week missed. The current CBA prevents the Chiefs from waiving the fines Jones incurred for missing training camp; that number has surpassed $2MM. Jones continues to target a deal closer to Donald’s $31.7MM AAV than the D-tackle’s second salary tier. Rumblings about a $28MM-per-year middle ground have surfaced, but Jones remains unsigned.

Chiefs Expect Kadarius Toney To Return For Week 1

Leaning into a low-cost setup at their non-Travis Kelce skill-position spots since trading Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs are currently without Kadarius Toney. The 2022 trade acquisition suffered his latest injury came minutes into training camp.

Toney sustained a torn meniscus and has undergone surgery. The defending Super Bowl champions expect the third-year wide receiver to be ready for the regular season, GM Brett Veach said (via ESPN’s Adam Teicher).

[RELATED: Isiah Pacheco Expects To Return For Week 1]

Toney’s recovery should generate attention, as he doubles as an injury-prone player whom the Chiefs want to install as their top wide receiver. The Giants bailed on Toney’s rookie contract after numerous health setbacks over his first two seasons. Ankle, quad, oblique and knee trouble has plagued Toney, with an onslaught of hamstring issues – which at one point saw the talented youngster sidelined because of injuries to both legs – impeding his 2022 efforts. The 2021 first-round pick has missed 15 career games and left a few others early.

The Chiefs attempted to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster but were unwilling to match the Patriots’ offer. They also let Mecole Hardman walk in free agency. Kansas City negotiated with Arizona on a DeAndre Hopkins trade but did not appear to come too close to matching Tennessee’s offer for the former All-Pro in free agency. The team used a second-round pick on Rashee Rice this year but had high hopes for Toney moving into the top wideout spot after a full offseason in Missouri.

As the Chiefs will be without the shifty performer for the next several weeks, they have the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and second-year UDFA Justyn Ross in place as options. Ross, who resided as a high-end prospect early during his Clemson career, missed both the 2020 and ’22 seasons due to major injuries. A neck injury threw his NFL aspirations off track in 2020, and he missed all of last season because of a foot injury.

Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney Undergoes Knee Surgery

On the first day of training camp, Kadarius Toney suffered a knee injury which puts his availability for the beginning of the regular season in doubt. The Chiefs wideout underwent surgery to address the issue, head coach Andy Reid said on Tuesday.

Toney suffered the injury while returning a kick on Sunday before practice began. His resultant procedure was aimed at cleaning up cartilage in his knee, Reid added (Twitter link via Nate Taylor of The Athletic). The news represents the latest in a string of injury setbacks for the 24-year-old, who was acquired via trade last year in a disappointing end to his Giants tenure.

The former first-rounder played only 12 games in New York, battling hamstring issues along the way. Those followed him to Kansas City, and an ankle injury threatened to keep him out of Super Bowl LVII. The Florida product was able to suit up, though, and he played a pivotal role in the championship game. Toney scored one fourth-quarter touchdown and set up another with a long punt return. Now, however, his Week 1 availability is in doubt.

“There’s a chance for the first game,” Reid said when detailing Toney’s situation. “We’ll just have to see how the recovery goes with him. But I mean he’s bound and determined he’s going to be there for the first game. We’ll see how it goes” (h/t ESPN’s Adam Teicher).

The Chiefs lost JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman to the Patriots and Jets, respectively, during the offseason. That has led to increased expectations for Toney in his first full season in a Kansas City offense known for amplifying the strengths of its pass-catchers (especially those with the kind of speed the latter posses). This week’s setback will limit (if not eliminate) his ability to practice during the summer, however, which could impact his effectiveness upon his return.

Chiefs Aiming To Keep JuJu Smith-Schuster, Likely To Let Mecole Hardman Walk

This year’s franchise tag deadline passed without the Chiefs re-tagging Orlando Brown Jr. They will take their chances on the market, with the veteran left tackle seemingly unlikely to sign before seeing what else could be out there for him. The defending Super Bowl champions are, however, interested in retaining at least one of their notable free agents.

The plan remains for the Chiefs to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster. After making substantial changes to their receiving corps in 2022, the Chiefs want to keep Smith-Schuster in the fold, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. It will take a fairly significant raise to keep Smith-Schuster, though the allure of returning to Kansas City’s Andy Reid– and Patrick Mahomes-led offense will be a factor in the seventh-year receiver’s free agency. Smith-Schuster has said he wants to return to the Chiefs, but after playing on an incentive-laden deal, he will command a nice contract in what will be his third run at free agency.

Although the Chiefs carved out some cap space via the Frank Clark release, they remain a few million over the salary ceiling as of Tuesday afternoon. Teams have until 3pm CT March 15 to move under the 2023 cap. On that note, the Chiefs are viewing Mecole Hardman as a likely departure candidate. They are expecting Hardman’s market to be out of their price range, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Palmer doubles down on that, with the former second-round pick who missed Super Bowl LVII due to injury likely to leave Kansas City (Twitter link).

Hardman, 25 on Sunday, submitted an inconsistent four seasons with the Chiefs. The Pro Bowl return man did, however, eclipse 500 receiving yards in each of his first three seasons as a tertiary Mahomes target. He has totaled 18 touchdowns; three of those came in a Chiefs rout of the 49ers last season. A groin injury that required surgery shelved Hardman shortly after, and although he suited up for the AFC championship game, an aggravation led to a Super Bowl absence and a surgery.

Hardman, however, is not in danger of missing 2023 time, and Fowler adds some teams believe he will do well in free agency. This promises to be a thin market, headlined by the likes of Smith-Schuster, Jakobi Meyers and Odell Beckham Jr., the latter of whom having not played since Super Bowl LVI. The Panthers are believed to be one of the teams interested in Hardman, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Carolina traded the now-Chosen Anderson last season but still has D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall under contract. Hardman would make for an intriguing complementary piece in Frank Reich‘s offense.

The Chiefs have big plans for their most recent receiver addition as well. They are viewing Kadarius Toney as a No. 1 wide receiver candidate, Palmer adds. Toney’s substantial injury history clouds that vision. Hence, the Smith-Schuster interest. Marquez Valdes-Scantling also remains under contract, and Skyy Moore should be expected to make bigger contributions in 2023. But Toney has a first-round pedigree and often flashes when he gets the ball. He set a Super Bowl punt-return yardage record and scored a walk-in touchdown in the narrow win. The high-variance speedster will also have a full offseason to acclimate in Reid’s offense, pointing his arrow up despite the injury troubles.

Kansas City may also lose safety Juan Thornhill in free agency, Fowler adds. The Chiefs drafted Thornhill in the 2019 second round as well. This is a fairly crowded safety market, but Thornhill has 52 career starts and made steady contributions for two Super Bowl-winning teams. Some teams view him as this class’ No. 2 safety, behind only Jessie Bates. That is high praise considering Jordan Poyer, Vonn Bell, Julian Love, John Johnson and Adrian Amos join Thornhill in free agency. Pro Football Focus rated Thornhill as a top-30 safety in each of the past two seasons.

Circling back to Brown, the Chiefs are taking the chance they will lose a central part of their O-line rebuild. The team brought in Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith in 2021, fortifying an O-line that had a brutal night in Super Bowl LV. Rather than another Brown tag, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the Chiefs want to solidify their long-term tackle spot this offseason (Twitter link). A Brown tag could have tabled matters to 2024 and created a Kirk Cousins-like situation, when a tag — at 144% of his 2023 salary — would have been untenable. Brown leaving this year, however, will make the Chiefs a candidate to draft a tackle or trade for one; this left tackle market is not particularly deep, Donovan Smith‘s Tuesday addition notwithstanding.