Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs want to be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the Patriots did it 18 years ago.
The Chiefs had a busy offseason, with new players coming in and some fan favorites leaving.
Receiver Juju Smith-Shuster signed with New England, defensive end Frank Clark will wear orange and blue with the Denver Broncos, and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. inked a deal with the rival Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs hope to replace their production with a combination of a rookie draft class and key free-agent additions.
For the Chiefs, it all starts with football-god-amongst-mortals Patrick Mahomes. For most, seeing KC’s favorite son up close is worth the drive to St. Joe alone, and we all know he’s the clear starter.
But Mahomes will have a new backup this year, as playoff hero fill-in Chad Henne retired. The Chiefs have project QB Shane Buechele back this year but also brought in an outside veteran. Journeyman Blaine Gabbert — mullet and all — comes over from Tamba Bay after backing up Tom Brady the past few years. Fans may remember Gabbert from his time at Mizzou, being drafted high in the first round, then an up-and-down pro career. It’ll be interesting to see if Buechele, Gabbert, or an unknown wins the job to back up Mahomes.
Former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire got hurt last year and saw seventh-rounder Isiah Pacheco take off with the starter’s job. Both are back this year, along with pass-catching back Jerrick McKinnon. The Chiefs also brought in undrafted rookie Deneric Prince, who has impressed so far. Pacheco is likely the starter but is recovering from an injury himself, so keep an eye on who’s in the backfield.
The wide receiver training camp battle is a real one. With Smith-Shuster gone and presumed WR1 Kadaruis Toney dealing with an injury, who’s catching the ball is top of mind for many fans. Back this year is speedster Marquez Valdes-Scantling, last year’s second-round pick Skyy Moore, and wiley vet Justin Watson.
The Chiefs drafted another WR in the second round in Rashee Rice and brought in Richie James from the Giants, who had a career year last year. Fans are also optimistic that the oft-injured former college star Justyn Ross will finally get a chance to shine. The Chiefs will only keep five to seven receivers on the final 53-man roster, so note who’s making impressive catches.
Along the offensive line, the Chiefs added new tackles in Jawaan Taylor from Jacksonville and Donovan Smith from Tamba Bay. These two replace the departed Andrew Wylie, and Orlando Brown Jr. Taylor is a player on the rise who signed a big contract, while Smith played at a high level before dealing with injuries last year.
The Chiefs added an up-and-coming defensive lineman in Charles Omenihu from the 49ers and drafted defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah in the first round. Anudike-Uzomah comes from Kansas State and is likely to be a fan favorite. The only question is what kind of production we can expect in his rookie season.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill led the Chargers in tackles last year and signed with the Chiefs; he’ll battle for playing time with Willie Gay, who’s in a contract year. The Chiefs also brought safety Mike Edwards over from the Buccaneers after the Chiefs let Juan Thornhill walk this offseason. The team returns local favorite Nick Bolton, star DT Chris Jones and last year’s rookies, who got better as the year went along. Pair that with some new additions; the defense looks young, tough, and deep. So if the offense isn’t lighting up the practice scoreboards, keep in mind the Chiefs may have a top-10 defense this year.