Wanya Morris

AFC West Notes: Franklin-Myers, Broncos, Brady, Raiders, OL, Chiefs, Cook, Chargers

As the Jets work on a solution to bring trade acquisition Haason Reddick into the fold, the Broncos have longtime Gang Green D-line starter John Franklin-Myers penciled into a starting post. Franklin-Myers is expected to start alongside Zach Allen and D.J. Jones in Vance Joseph‘s 3-4 scheme. The Broncos acquired the 27-year-old D-lineman for only a 2026 sixth-round pick, with the deal amounting to a salary dump on the Jets’ part. Denver reworked Franklin-Myers’ deal, with terms (two years, $15MM) north of where a Jets pay-cut offer came in, and improved one of their DE spots from last season. The former Rams draftee said (via ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold) he spoke with Joseph and Broncos senior defensive assistant Joe Vitt about how he would fit in Denver’s scheme, helping move the trade across the goal line.

While significant questions remain about the Broncos’ viability as a contender, the team has experienced cogs at just about every spot across both lines. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Chiefs boast experience at four positions on their offensive front, but the reigning champions’ left tackle post is unsettled as of now. Second-round pick Kingsley Suamataia looks to hold an early lead on 2023 third-rounder Wanya Morris for the job, per The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. Suamataia took the majority of the first-team reps during minicamp. Training camp will, of course, provide a clearer indication of this position battle (subscription required). Should Suamataia end up losing the competition, it would stand to reason he would have a shot to eventually claim it as he develops. But the BYU product is off to a nice start, albeit in unpadded work.
  • Down Bryan Cook for their final nine games due to an ankle injury, the Chiefs saw the third-year safety participate fully in minicamp, Taylor adds. This certainly brings good news, given that Cook was carted off Lambeau Field in early December. The Chiefs, who lost fill-in Mike Edwards to the Bills this offseason, are once again planning to turn to Cook and Justin Reid as their starting safeties.
  • Trey Pipkinsmove to guard is looking likely to produce a starting opportunity. Pipkins joined Rashawn Slater, Zion Johnson, Bradley Bozeman and Joe Alt in taking every first-team rep during the team’s final OTA and the minicamp open to media, The Athletic’s Daniel Popper writes. Jim Harbaugh said this group is on track to be a “top-tier” O-line. A career-long tackle, Pipkins’ guard move has been in the works for a bit now. Two seasons remain on his three-year, $21.75MM deal.
  • Jim Leonhard interviewed for the Eagles’ defensive coordinator job last year and appeared the frontrunner for the Packers’ DC gig in 2021. After leaving his Wisconsin DC post following the 2022 season, Leonhard spent last year as an analyst at Illinois. Sean Payton hired Leonhard to coach the Broncos‘ DBs this year and said (via DNVR Sports’ Zac Stevens) he attempted to hire the former safety in 2023. Leonhard undergoing a hip replacement delayed this partnership, but he has since replaced Christian Parker, who joined the Eagles this offseason.
  • Nearly 13 months have passed since Tom Brady agreed to buy a Raiders stake. The owners continue to table the matter, with multiple issues — from the stake price (since resolved) to the conflict of interest with Brady’s FOX job — coming up. Owners did not discuss this at last month’s meetings, but the Washington Post’s Mark Maske notes Brady still is more likely than not to end up a Raiders minority owner. Roger Goodell said Brady’s access to team facilities and practices would need to be addressed if he is approved. Barring a special session, the owners’ next chance to vote in Brady as a Raiders part-owner comes in October.

Chiefs OL Wanya Morris, Chukwuebuka Godrick Arrested

The Chiefs’ rocky offseason following their second consecutive Super Bowl season continues today as Adam Teicher of ESPN reports that second-year offensive tackles Wanya Morris and Chukwuebuka Godrick were both arrested Thursday night. Following arrests for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, Morris and Godrick were booked into jail and released Friday morning on bond.

Neither lineman played much of a role in Kansas City’s 2023 title. Godrick joined the team as a part of the league’s International Player Pathway Program last year out of Nigeria but failed to make an in-game appearance during the season as a member of the practice squad. He had been granted an international roster exemption for the 2024 season.

Morris actually played some significant snaps as a rookie third-round pick, starting four games near the end of the season as an injury replacement for Donovan Smith. Coming into the 2024 season, Morris was being challenged to compete with second-round rookie draft pick Kingsley Suamataia for the starting left tackle job opposite Jawaan Taylor following the departure of Smith in free agency. If Morris’ arrest leads to any league discipline, consider it a leg up for the rookie out of BYU.

This news comes most unwelcome for a team in Kansas City that has seen their breakout rookie receiver Rashee Rice face a slew of legal trouble in the offseason. As the team was already bracing for a suspension for Rice following eight felony charges stemming from a hit-and-run incident in late-March, Rice upped the ante by becoming the focus of an investigation for an alleged assault at a nightclub in Dallas.

The NFL will allow the legal process to take its course before ultimately coming to a decision on league punishment for the three players. The league has recently laxed its position on punishments for positive marijuana tests, but illegal use, possession, or distribution of drugs is still prohibited in the NFL, and marijuana possession remains illegal in Kansas (where the two were arrested).

Wanya Morris, Kingsley Suamataia To Compete For Chiefs’ Starting LT Role

When healthy, Donovan Smith handled left tackle duties last season for the Chiefs. The longtime Buccaneers blindside protector was not re-signed this offseason, though, setting the stage for a training camp competition to replace him.

Wanya Morris logged four starts during his rookie season when Smith was sidelined through injury. The third-rounder surrendered a pair of sacks and 27 pressures when on the field, per PFF, resulting in a 55.6 overall grade. Morris is the top option amongst returnees to take on a starting role, but Kansas City’s second player selected in last month’s draft will also have the opportunity to win the job.

The Chiefs traded up one spot late in the second round to draft Kingsley SuamataiaOne of a comparatively small number of true juniors in the 2024 class, Suamataia transferred from Oregon to BYU in 2022 and he took on first-team duties with the Cougars during both of his seasons with the team. The 6-4, 326-pounder played at right tackle in 2022 before switching to the blindside last season. His level of play will provide Morris with an intriguing competitor for a first-team role.

“In the middle of the season he got an opportunity there [with] some good, some bad,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said when speaking about the latter (via ESPN’s Adam Teicher). “If you look at his body of work last year, I think on one end you’re happy that he was able to come in at the pro level and be competitive. It wasn’t perfect but it also was solid play that I think is a good foundation to build and grow on.

“He’s got to come in here and win that position [and] I think it’s our job to go out there and find competition for that left tackle spot. I think that there’s a lot of promise in there and there’s a lot of ability, but certainly I think it’s our job to bring in some competition there and make him earn that and work for it.”

Kansas City signed Jawaan Taylor in free agency last offseason. His four-year, $80MM deal seemed to position him for left tackle duties, but Smith’s arrival left him at his familiar right tackle spot. The fact that Morris and Suamataia will be battling for the first-team blindside role confirms Taylor will remain on the right side for 2024 and beyond, if things go according to plan for the two-time defending champions up front.

Kansas City is already set at left guard (Joe Thuney), center (Creed Humphrey) and right guard (Trey Smith) along the interior in addition to Taylor remaining the right tackle starter. The competition between Morris and Suamataia – which, of course, will not truly begin until padded practices take place in training camp – to complete the unit will be a notable storyline for the team this summer.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/16/23

Here are the latest 2023 draftees to sign their four-year rookie deals:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

New Orleans Saints

The Browns added Tillman to a receiver room that includes Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and trade acquisition Elijah Moore. Peoples-Jones is going into a contract year. Downs joins a Colts team rostering contract-year wideout Michael Pittman Jr. and second-year talent Alec Pierce. The Colts lost Parris Campbell this offseason. Dell will stay in Houston, moving to a Texans team that traded Brandin Cooks to the Cowboys. The Texans did sign Robert Woods and are expected to have 2022 second-round pick John Metchie in uniform after a leukemia diagnosis wiped out his rookie year.

Donovan Smith‘s Chiefs signing looks set to place Morris on the developmental track. Kansas City has now added two free agent tackles — Smith and Jawaan Taylor — who have a combined 12 years of NFL starting experience. The Saints will pair Haener with their higher-profile Fresno State alum, Derek Carr, atop their quarterback depth chart. The team made Haener this draft’s sixth QB selection, at No. 127, and the move began a run on Day 3 QB picks.

Chiefs Acquire No. 92 From Bengals

The past two AFC championship foes are making a third-round trade. The Bengals are sending No. 92 overall to the Chiefs in exchange for Nos. 95 and 217.

This year’s draft hosts selected Oklahoma tackle Wanya Morris. While Morris was not teammates with Sooner-turned-Chief Creed Humphrey, having transferred from Tennessee in 2021, he will join a Chiefs team that features some tackle uncertainty opposite Jawaan Taylor.

Kansas City is planning to move Taylor from his right tackle position, where he started four seasons with the Jaguars and played primarily in college, to left tackle. Taylor’s $20MM-per-year contract reflects that. Morris’ 2022 role would support Kansas City completing its Taylor transition plan. Morris started eight games at right tackle for the Sooners last season.

The Chiefs lost right tackle starter Andrew Wylie in free agency in March; Wylie, who had only played for the Chiefs over the course of his five-year career, is now with the Commanders. The Chiefs did not allocate much funding toward their right tackle spot during Orlando Brown‘s Missouri tenure, and they may not be prepared to do so opposite Taylor. Morris and former third-round pick Lucas Niang, who has dealt with extensive injury trouble, represent the team’s top options here.

Morris, who started seven games at left tackle during his 2020 sophomore season at Tennessee, becomes the second Oklahoma tackle taken in this draft. The Jaguars chose Anton Harrison in Round 1.