Chiefs Check-in: Kansas City Chiefs lose four big contributors from 2022
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What’s happening in Chiefs Kingdom?
The fate of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has finally arrived. The Chiefs also lost two big contributors on defense from last season and make a move to create some cap space.
Let’s look at the most recent and relevant Chiefs stories for the morning of March 16.
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Orlando Brown Jr. is leaving Kansas City, but staying in the AFC conference. He signed a four-year contract worth $64 million with the Cincinnati Bengals, which is less than he could have earned with the Chiefs had he accepted their offer a season ago. He now helps an AFC rival get stability along the offensive line, which is something they haven’t often had.
It’s one-and-done for JuJu Smith-Schuster in Kansas City as he signed a three-year, $33 million contract with the New England Patriots on Wednesday. Despite reports of mutual interest between the Chiefs and Smith-Schuster staying with the team, K.C. clearly wasn’t willing to match the Patriots’ offer. Smith-Schuster recorded 78 receptions for 933 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs in 2022.
JuJu took to Twitter to thank his teammates, coaching staff and Chiefs fans for an unforgettable year in Kansas City, where he became a Super Bowl champion.
Former Chiefs’ starting safety Juan Thornhill signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. Thornhill was a second-round pick for K.C. in 2019, starting 52 games during his four-year tenure. He racked up 234 total tackles, eight interceptions, a fumble recovery and a touchdown as a Chief. Thornhill was never really in the Chiefs’ plans to return, and they will now turn to second-year man Bryan Cook, who played well down the stretch for K.C. last season.
The Chiefs tendered backup quarterback Shane Buechele, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent. Buechele looks to have the inside track on being Patrick Mahomes’ backup in 2023, but it’s possible the Chiefs bring in some competition. However, the Chiefs have gone to lengths to protect Buechele, keeping him on the 53-man roster all season long despite having Chad Henne.
The Chiefs did not tender linebacker Darius Harris, and he will now hit free agency. Harris spent four seasons in K.C. as mostly a special teams contributor. He did make six starts on defense, recording 58 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two fumbled recoveries and two passes defended.
Former Chiefs’ defensive tackle Khalen Saunders signed a three-year, $14.5 million contract with the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday. Saunders battled through some injuries during his four seasons with the Chiefs but made a lot of plays and progressed nicely each of the last two seasons. In 2022 he set career highs in tackles (48), sacks (3.5) and tackles for loss (3).
K.C. converted $12 million of quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ roster bonus into a signing bonus, creating $9.6 million in cap space for the team. Could another big move be coming up for the Chiefs?
In case you missed it
The Chiefs signed former San Francisco 49ers edge rusher Charles Omenihu to a two-year deal worth up to $20 million. Last season Omenihu racked up 61 pressures and seven sacks per Pro Football Focus.
K.C. tendered tight end Jody Fortson, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Former Chiefs right tackle Andrew Wylie took to Instagram to pen a goodbye to his teammates, coaches and Chiefs fans on Tuesday.
Fourth-year player Lucas Niang will be in the mix to compete for the starting gig next season.
Chiefs’ scouts were in attendance for Oregon, Northwestern and Clemson’s pro day on Tuesday.
Chiefs’ defensive line coach Joe Cullen was running defensive line drills at Georgia’s pro day on Wednesday.
Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire released a mock draft on Wednesday, mocking Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid to the Chiefs at No. 31.
Around the AFC West
Denver Broncos news
The Broncos signed former Chiefs cornerback/kick returner Tremon Smith to a two-year contract worth up to $5.5 million. Smith was with the Houston Texans in 2021, returning 19 kickoffs for 417 yards.
ESPN has reported that the Broncos have had trade talks about starting receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. As far as Jeudy is concerned, Denver is seeking at least a first-round pick.
Las Vegas Raiders news
The Raiders re-signed two players on Wednesday, swing tackle Brandon Parker and fullback Jakob Johnson, both getting one-year deals.
It was confirmed on Wednesday that the Raiders did indeed call to check on quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ availability, but a deal could not be reached. Las Vegas ultimately went with Jimmy Garoppolo.
Los Angeles Chargers news
Around the NFL
Free agent signings
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed quarterback Baker Mayfield to a one-year, $8.5 million contract.
The Bucs also re-signed Pro Bowl linebacker Lavonte David to a one-year deal worth $7 million in guarantees.
The Carolina Panthers made a pair of signings in veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, who signed a two-year deal, and tight end Hayden Hurst who got a three-year contract.
The Panthers also made a splash signing, locking up running back Miles Sanders to a four-year, $25 million deal.
The Washington Commanders signed veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett to a one-year deal.
The Buffalo Bills re-signed Pro Bowl safety Jordan Poyer to a two-year deal. They also signed former Houston Texans’ quarterback Kyle Allen.
The Texans signed defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins to a one-year, $10.5 million contract.
The Philadelphia Eagles re-signed Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to a one-year, $10 million contract.
The San Fransisco 49ers signed defensive end Clelin Ferrell to a one-year deal.
The Baltimore Ravens re-signed running back Justice Hill to a two-year, $4.5 million contract.
The Miami Dolphins signed tight end Eric Saubert and safety DeShon Elliott.
The New Orleans Saints signed former Detroit Lions’ running back Jamaal Williams to a three-year, $12 million deal.
More NFL news
The Dallas Cowboys released running back Ezekiel Elliott after seven seasons, saving $10.9 million in salary cap space.
The Eagles released cornerback Darius Slay, saving the team $17.5 million.
Aaron Rodgers joined the “Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday and stated that he intends to return in 2023 and play for the New York Jets.
The Browns released starting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and starting safety John Johnson in an effort to save some cap space.