The Kansas City Chiefs are already starting the process of re-tooling their roster for a repeat Super Bowl victory. A big part of that plan is surrounding quarterback Patrick Mahomes with the necessary receiving talent, which they clearly did in 2022-23.
According to James Palmer, who recently joined the Good Morning Football crew to discuss the Chiefs playmakers, KC wants to bring their top wideouts back while still keeping an eye out for potential additions in NFL free agency. Here was Palmer’s breakdown:
“This is my understanding: they’d like to keep the same group around Patrick Mahomes that they finished the season with. If you look at those guys, it was Kadarius Toney, MVS (Marquez Valdes-Scantling), both of those guys are under contract. And it is interesting because they do believe Kadarius Toney is their best receiver on the team. And they believe that he has not unlocked all of his potential in terms of maybe some of the things they think they can do with him in year two with a full offseason. They’re very excited with him.”
The JuJu Smith-Schuster predicament
The guy who isn’t under further contract is JuJu Smith-Schuster. He just completed a one-year deal for a little over $3 million, but hit most of his incentives to earn more than $9 million.
“Now the other player in the receiving room that they’d like to bring back, that’s JuJu Smith-Schuster. They hope to bring him back,” says Palmer. That could be tricky, though, because JSS will likely want in the range of $9 million annually (probably more) and without having to hit incentives to earn that figure. He only signed on cheap with KC because he was injured after year five with the Steelers and they weren’t giving him another $8 million guaranteed. Especially since they had other young wideouts.
So he landed a prove-it deal with the Chiefs — and, well, he proved it, with over 900 yards on the year and a big role on a Super Bowl winner. If the Chiefs want to keep him around, they’re probably going to have to hand him a 3+ year deal that awards more than $9 million annually. Seems unlikely KC spends that much on him when last year they inked him for one year and $2.4 million guaranteed.
Receivers around the league begging to play with Mahomes
Don’t fret, Kansas City fans. Because Palmer believes if JuJu’s spot was to open up, the line to play alongside Patrick Mahomes for cheap would be out the door.
“Other wide receivers, I’m told, are blowing up Patrick Mahomes’ phone,” said Palmer. “To my understanding, guys have been calling him this entire offseason, saying, ‘Can I come to Kansas City? Can I come and play with you guys?’ That is a real thing that is happening. So I’m not saying they’re adding anybody else. There are receivers that are interested. But right now, the plan appears to be bringing back everybody that they were finishing the season with.”
That’s all fine and dandy that other versions of Smith-Schuster want to play with Mahomes, but are they willing to take the low offer with little guarantees that JuJu did? Receivers may claim they’d do anything to play with Mahomes. But it’s likely their agents and pocketbooks opt to go with the money on a worse team.
We shall see.