In 2005, the Eagles (coached by Andy Reid) had enough of receiver Terrell Owens. After suspending him four games without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, they sent him home for the rest of the season, with pay.
Several months later, the CBA was rewritten to prevent teams from placing players on paid suspensions.
Eighteen years later, it seems as if the Chiefs and Reid decided after the Week 15 win over the Patriots to put receiver Kadarius Toney on ice for the rest of the year.
In that game, Toney had another drop, which became an interception. The prior week, he lined up offside and wiped out a touchdown he scored after catching a lateral from tight end Travis Kelce. Toney was then unrepentant about his mistake, even though multiple different camera angles showed that he lined up incorrectly and did nothing to adjust before the ball was snapped.
In all, Toney will have missed Weeks 16, 17, 18, and four postseason games. The team’s strategy, if this was a low-key suspension, was to say he’s injured. Toney went along with the strategy, if there was one, until the AFC Championship, when he publicly said he’s not injured.
No one focused on the broader question — are the Chiefs using an embellished, exaggerated, and/or fabricated injury as a way to keep him off the field?
With Toney going public that he’s not injured two weeks ago, the Chiefs coincidentally (or not) soon removed him from the injury report. He still reportedly won’t play today, in Super Bowl LVIII.
The circumstances suggest that the strategy, if this was a low-key suspension, was to subtly nudge him away from the team for the rest of the year, and then to try to trade him in the offseason. Toney’s camp, which could have fought the move, likely would have been inclined to go along in order to get along, hopeful that silence and the passage of time might lay the foundation for Toney to get the second fresh start of his career. Even if Toney would have been in the right, the last thing he needs is to be involved in another controversy.
The Chiefs thought they’d gotten a steal in Toney, when they acquired the 2021 first-round pick from the Giants for a third-round compensatory pick and a sixth-round pick. They believed he could become their new No. 1 receiver. In December 2023, Kelce declared that Toney is “one of our best players.”
He has never played that way for the Chiefs. Or for the Giants, where there was a perception that he doesn’t really care about football the way he should, in order to get the most out of his stexts.
It was enough for the Giants to move on after a season and a half. Now, after another season and a half, the Chiefs seem to be ready to move on, too.
Will someone else be sufficiently smitten by his stexts to give him a shot? We’ll find out as soon as the middle of March.