Willie Gay Jr.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/22

Here are the league’s minor moves going into Week 7:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

AFC West Rumors: Payton, Munchak, Nagy

With a young, top-flight QB in Justin Herbert and a talented roster surrounding him, the Chargers would appeal to almost any head coaching candidate. The team has once again dealt with major injury problems this year, but the decision-making of second-year HC Brandon Staley and the defense’s poor performance under Staley, a former defensive coach and coordinator, has led some to question his job security.

While it would be highly surprising to see Staley dismissed in-season — after all, as of the time of this writing, the club is 3-2 — Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post suggests that the Bolts could be willing to move on if the 2022 season does not “provide an acceptable outcome” (for a team like Los Angeles, an acceptable outcome presumably means at least a postseason berth). If Staley is indeed ousted, one longtime NFL personnel exec who has worked with former Saints head coach Sean Payton says the Chargers job is the one that Payton really wants.

Payton, 58, surprisingly stepped away from the Saints in January after having served as New Orleans’ head coach since 2006. He has left the door open for a return to the sidelines, and in July, it was reported that the Chargers would be one of his preferred teams, along with the Dolphins and Cowboys. Payton is said to be looking for a club that plays its home games in a warm weather city and that boasts a strong QB situation and roster, and the Chargers check all of those boxes. Plus, since the team is in the AFC, the Saints — who still hold Payton’s rights — may be willing to trade their Super Bowl-winning coach to LA.

However, Payton is also seeking control over personnel decisions, and Chargers GM Tom Telesco has been with the club since 2013. It would be interesting to see if team ownership would ask Telesco to cede at least some of his authority if a Payton acquisition becomes a possibility, and if Telesco would be willing to do so.

Now for more from the AFC West:

  • The surprising performance of rookie Jamaree Salyer means that the Chargers have a viable solution at LT in the absence of Rashawn Slater, as Daniel Popper of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Originally drafted as a guard, Salyer was appointed as Herbert’s blindside protector in Week 4 after Slater was placed on IR, and he played quite well in the team’s victory over the Texans. Then, in a Week 5 win over the Browns, Salyer held his own against Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, so Los Angeles should not have to make a move for a left tackle while it waits for Slater to return (which could happen at the end of the season).
  • Speaking of left tackles, Broncos LT Garett Bolles went under the knife on Wednesday to repair his broken right fibula, per Mike Klis of 9News.com. Bolles suffered the injury during Denver’s Week 5 loss to the Colts, and he will miss the remainder of the season. As Klis notes, Bolles’ $2MM injury guarantee for 2023 will be triggered, but given that the 2017 first-rounder is due to earn $14MM in salary in 2023 — a modest sum for a top left tackle — that presumably won’t matter too much.
  • Broncos rookie HC Nathaniel Hackett is under plenty of heat at the moment, and there are rumors that he may not even make it through his first season as a head coach. In light of his early difficulties, pundits are revisiting Hackett’s construction of his coaching staff, which included the decision to part ways with Denver’s former O-line coach, Mike Munchak, and replace him with Butch Barry (who had never worked as a lead OL coach in the NFL). Hackett made the move for schematic reasons, but as Peter King wrote in his weekly FMIA column on Monday, Munchak wanted to stay in Denver, and in addition to his reputation as one of the game’s best OL coaches, he is also a respected leader who has HC experience of his own. In hindsight, retaining a veteran influence like Munchak might have been the better decision.
  • The Bears relieved Matt Nagy of his head coaching duties at the end of the 2021 season, and he subsequently rejoined the Chiefs as quarterbacks coach/senior offensive assistant. Nagy put himself on the HC radar as the QBs coach and offensive coordinator for Kansas City from 2013-17, and he also worked under Chiefs head coach Andy Reid when both men where with the Eagles. It’s clear that Reid thinks highly of Nagy’s abilities, and a league source tells Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network that Nagy could eventually succeed his mentor as head coach of the Chiefs. Reid, 64, is under contract through 2025, and though he has said he is open to coaching into his 70s, it is feasible that he could end his Hall of Fame career before then. By the end of Reid’s current contract, Nagy will have had time to distance himself from the disappointing end to his Chicago tenure, and he may even find himself back as Kansas City’s OC if Eric Bieniemy ever lands his own head coaching post.
  • Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is set to serve the final game of his four-game suspension on Sunday, and as Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports writes, the league initially pushed for the maximum six-game ban. The union advocated a two-game suspension, and the two sides met in the middle at four games before the matter reached the jointly-appointed disciplinary officer, Judge Sue L. Robinson. Gay missed time due to injury in 2021 but finished the season as a top-25 ‘backer in the eyes of Pro Football Focus, and his return should provide a boost to KC’s defense.

Chiefs LB Willie Gay Handed Four-Game Ban

The Chiefs will be without one of their young linebacker starters for an extended stretch. Willie Gay received a four-game suspension Monday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This ban is for a personal conduct policy violation, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. In January, Gay was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal damage charge in connection with an incident in which he was visiting his son’s house and, amid an argument with the child’s mother, damaged property in her home. Gay, 24, agreed to a pretrial diversion program in June.

Gay, who played 92% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps in their win over the Chargers, has been a full-time starter for most of his career. This will mark another absence for the former second-round pick, however. Gay missed five games due to injury in 2021.

Gay and 2021 second-rounder Nick Bolton reside as the Chiefs’ top linebackers. The latter is Kansas City’s centerpiece player at the position, but Gay has made 21 career starts. He has 16 tackles (two for loss) and two passes defensed through two games this season. He will miss games against the Colts, Buccaneers, Raiders and Bills.

Pro Football Focus rated Gay as a top-25 linebacker last season, one that featured two interceptions. A significant usage gap exists between Bolton and Gay and the rest of Kansas City’s linebackers, though the team did use a third-round pick on rookie Leo Chenal. The Chiefs have used Chenal on 32 defensive plays this season. Darius Harris, a former UDFA who has bounced on and off the Chiefs’ practice squad during his career, has logged 18 defensive snaps thus far this year.

Chiefs’ LB Willie Gay Jr. Arrested For Misdemeanor Criminal Damage

News broke overnight that will have an effect on the availability for one of the Chief’s defensive starters this Sunday. Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. was arrested on Wednesday night for criminal damage under $1,000 dollars. 

As Pro Football Talk’s Michael Smith writes, the arrest took place at approximately 10:30 pm in Overland Park, Kansas. As of now, he remains in the Johnson County Detention Center awaiting bond. No charges have been laid yet.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has tweeted an update from Gay’s agent, Maxx Lepselter, which provides context on the incident. He states that the 23-year-old was visiting his son’s house and an argument with the child’s mother took place, during which Gay broke her vacuum. “No one was touched … beyond the broken appliance”, according to Lepselter. The Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell tweets that, according to the police report, “the damage is to a vacuum, cell phone screen, wall/door frame and a humidifier”.

A Chiefs spokesperson has released the following statement: “The Chiefs are aware of LB Willie Gay Jr.’s reported overnight arrest on an alleged misdemeanor criminal damage charge and have no further comment at this time” (Twitter link via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star).

A 2020 second-round pick, Gay has started all but the first game of the 2021 campaign. In 12 regular season games, he totaled 48 tackles, four pass deflections and two interceptions. The Chiefs were able to win comfortably against the Steelers in the Wild Card round with Gay playing an unusually low number of snaps, but, in the event he were to be absent this Sunday, his presence would likely be felt more greatly against a potent Bills’ offense.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/22/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list today. In some instances (including Christian McCaffrey and Travis Etienne), players activated from the list remain on IR:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on list: T Le’Raven Clark

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/5/21

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Minnesota Vikings

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Chiefs Place LB Willie Gay On IR

A toe issue cropped up for Willie Gay recently, and it will require some time to heal. The Chiefs are placing the young linebacker on IR, ESPN’s Field Yates tweets.

This will knock Gay out of Kansas City’s first three games, dealing a blow to the two-time defending AFC champions’ defense. The 2020 second-round pick is set to play a key role for the Chiefs this year, but he will be on the shelf until at least October.

Andy Reid said Gay’s toe malady occurred during the Chiefs’ preseason finale. The Chiefs are in slightly better position to withstand this than they were last year. Anthony Hitchens is back for a fourth season in Missouri, while the team used a second-round pick on Mizzou linebacker Nick Bolton.

A Mississippi State alum, Gay played only 25% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps as a rookie and missed the team’s three playoff games. Gay was in line to start, however, to begin Year 2. The IR placement certainly confirms this toe injury will require extensive recovery time, perhaps altering the Chiefs’ plans for the young defender this season.

Chiefs To Sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Wrap Draft Class

The Chiefs have verbally agreed to deals with all six players in their draft class, as Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets. Here’s the full rundown of the group, headlined by one of this year’s most intriguing rushers: 

1-32: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (LSU)
2-63: Willie Gay Jr., LB (Mississippi State)
3-96: Lucas Niang, OT (TCU)
4-138: L’Jarius Sneed, S (Louisiana Tech)
5-177: Mike Danna, DE (Michigan)
7-237: Thakarius Keyes, CB (Tulane)

Don’t let Edwards-Helaire’s 5’7″ frame fool you – he’s tough, durable, and a proven three-down back. His agility and soft hands made him one of this year’s most coveted rookie RBs, though some evaluators were concerned about his speed. That’s not a huge problem in KC, where they already have ample quickness on offense.

The LSU product is expected to serve as the Chiefs’ top running back, ahead of Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson. Elijah McGuire, Darrel Williams, and former Raiders rusher DeAndre Washington are also on the offseason roster.