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Updates on AFC Players and Teams: Keenan Allen, Chris Jones, Khalil Mack, Sean Payton, Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs

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Broncos

Broncos HC Sean Payton said he met with Russell Wilson on Monday and indicated they will let him know their plans in a timely fashion. 

“I told him, ‘Look, I don’t think it’s going to be a long, drawn-out process,’ but it hasn’t been decided relative to what our plans are,” Payton said, via Jeff Legwold of ESPN. “As soon as we know something certainly, he would be the first to know.”

Payton clarified that there is a scenario for them to bring back Wilson next season. 

“Yeah, listen, otherwise it would have been like ‘hey, goodbye,’” Payton said. “We’ll look at all the scenarios and try to do what’s best for the Broncos. But communication will be important, and, yeah, that final decision hasn’t been made.”

Broncos GM George Paton said he reached out to Wilson over their Week 9 bye and made a “creative attempt to adjust his contract.” 

“During the bye week, I did reach out to Russ’ agent in a good faith and a creative attempt, to adjust his contract,” Paton said. “We couldn’t get a deal done, and we moved on with our season. It didn’t come up again. Fast-forward to Week 17, Sean makes a change at the quarterback position. This was a football decision made by Sean, what he thought was in the best interest of the team. This was completely independent of any conversations I had with the agent. Again, it was a football decision, made by Sean… We made a good faith attempt to adjust his contract; we handled ourselves professionally,” Paton added. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

  • Payton said he sees no reason why Paton wouldn’t be back as GM as the two have a good relationship. (Tomasson)
  • Broncos owner Greg Penner on the Wilson situation during the bye week: “Sean is responsible for … putting the best players on the field. George handles the player negotiations and contracts. It was a constructive conversation with Wilson’s agent.” (Tomasson)
  • Penner on if Wilson will be the team’s quarterback in 2024. “Money will not be the overriding factor. That’s not what will drive the decision.” (Tomasson)
  • Sean Payton on potential salary cap issues: “The salary cap those are challenges every year. There are 3 or 4 in the postseason that finished in the bottom with dead money. That is part of the puzzle…. It is a new puzzle every year.” (Troy Renck)
  • George Paton on why Wilson described contract adjustment talks as a threat to bench him: “That’s a good question. We tried to adjust the contract and we did so in a way we felt was in the best interests of the Broncos.” (Renck)
  • Paton won’t close the door on Wilson returning in 2024: “The door IS open.” (Andrew Siciliano)

Chargers

Chargers DE Khalil Mack, who is owed $17,550,000 in the final year of his contract next season, said he only wants to win games going forward and thinks his situation will take care of itself. 

You can’t get too emotional in this s— man,” Mack said, via Kris Rhim of ESPN. “You’ve got to understand that stuff will take care of itself when you talk about the future. At the end of the day, man, trying to win ball games and that’s all I care about.”

Chargers WR Mike Williams has a potential out in his contract this offseason. He’s focused on returning “stronger, faster, and better” from his torn ACL. 

“I know what I’m capable of doing,” Williams said. “I know that I’m going to come back stronger, faster, and better after this injury. So I mean, yeah, I just got to focus on what I can focus on. That’s me getting back better.”

Chargers WR Keenan Allen was adamant about continuing his career in Los Angeles. 

I’m not playing for a team that I don’t want play for,” Allen said. “So that is what it is. I’ve been playing this game long enough, I’m kind of solidified on that side.”

  • A source tells Outkick’s Armando Salguero that former Titans HC Mike Vrabel would be a candidate for the Chargers’ head coaching vacancy if he doesn’t end up in New England or Los Angeles doesn’t land Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh.

Chiefs

  • Chiefs HC Andy Reid said OT Donovan Smith (stinger) is expected to play in their Wildcard game against the Dolphins barring any setbacks: “He’s doing good. Barring any setbacks, he should be fine for (Saturday’s) game,” per Nate Taylor. 
  • Chiefs DT Chris Jones, who is set to become a free agent, acknowledged that Saturday’s game could be his last game with the organization: “It could be my last game at Arrowhead. Who knows?,” per ProFootballTalk.

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