Buffalo-Kansas City has been one of the 2020s’ defining NFL rivalries. The AFC squads have played five times this decade, twice in the playoffs, with the Chiefs’ two postseason wins playing a role in the Bills‘ roster construction. The AFC powers’ plans intersected during the 2022 first round as well. When the Chiefs moved up from No. 29 to No. 21 in the ’22 first round, they took the player the Bills eyed. The Bills sought Trent McDuffie with their top pick last year, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, but the Chiefs were able to make a deal with the Patriots to move in front of Buffalo.
The fallout from this miss became costly for the Bills, whose subsequent trade-up — from No. 25 to No. 23 — produced Kaiir Elam, who has been unable to earn steady playing time. As Elam has vacillated between backup or emergency starter and healthy scratch, McDuffie has progressed in Kansas City. Pro Football Focus rates McDuffie eighth overall among corners; the Washington product has been a central part of the Chiefs’ defensive improvement this season.
Here is the latest from the AFC East:
- The Patriots opted not to sell at the trade deadline, keeping the door open for longer-term futures with some of their contract-year players. New England held onto Josh Uche, Michael Onwenu and Kyle Dugger despite interest coming in before the deadline. Dugger has become a player teams are monitoring ahead of free agency, with ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler noting some teams view the Division II alum as the 2024 UFA class’ second-best safety — behind the Buccaneers’ Antoine Winfield Jr. This year’s safety market producing only one contract north of $8MM per year (Jessie Bates‘ outlier $16MM-AAV accord) could impact Dugger, but it is clear the former second-round pick will be costly for the Pats to retain.
- Benched in Week 9 and left in the States ahead of the Patriots’ Week 10 Germany trip, J.C. Jackson was initially believed to have arrived late at the team hotel the night before the Pats-Commanders game. But the recently reacquired corner did not show up at all that night, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss notes. Jack Jones missed curfew as well, but Reiss adds the since-waived corner did surface later. Both players were benched for Week 9, and despite Jackson’s unavailability, the Patriots further limited Jones against the Colts. Jackson is expected to remain with the Pats, but the ballhawk has not escaped the rough patch that began last year in Los Angeles.
- Trent Brown did not make the trip to Frankfurt for personal reasons, and Reiss adds the veteran tackle’s missed game will affect his recently reworked contract. Including $88K per game in roster bonuses, the Patriots set playing-time thresholds for additional Brown escalators as well. The starting LT would collect $1MM for playing 75% of the team’s offensive snaps this season. Hovering at 75% after Week 9, Brown has now missed two games. The low end of this incentive structure is 65%, which Reiss notes will pay out $750K. He would receive another $750K by hitting the 70% snap barrier.
- Dolphins contract-year guard Robert Hunt will miss a second straight game due to a hamstring injury. As a result, Liam Eichenberg will complete a rare NFL feat. The 2021 second-round pick began the week practicing at left guard, his primary 2022 position, but the swingman moved to right guard midway through practice this week, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson notes. The Dolphins view Eichenberg as more comfortable there. Once Eichenberg replaces Hunt on Sunday, he will have started at all five O-line positions as a pro. While the converted tackle could not retain his LG job to start this season, having accomplished this O-line tour of sorts in his third season is certainly noteworthy. Lester Cotton will start at left guard for the Dolphins, who are uncertain to have LG first-stringer Isaiah Wynn back this season.