The AFC Championship game is underway. Both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have put their stamp on the game with amazing plays. This matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens may very well be an all-timer. However, a familiar face will not be participating. For the third time in these playoffs, Kadarius Toney has been ruled inactive.
Since the offensive-offsides penalty heard ‘round the world, he has been active for only one game for the Chiefs since their Week 14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The following week, he dropped a ball that led to a pick six. Toney has been listed on the injury report with a hip-ankle injury. A “personal reason” was attached for the AFC Championship Game — his newborn daughter was delivered on Saturday night according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Today, Toney took to Instagram Live to tell anyone who is willing to listen that he is healthy.
If it was not already obvious, the Chiefs wasted a third round pick when they traded for him last season. The New York Giants selected Toney with a late first-round pick in the 2021 draft. He is a tremendously talented player, but the Giants bailed on him after less than two seasons because they could not trust him to be a professional.
The Chiefs were looking to add some explosion to their wide receiver corps last season. Adding a first-round talent at value is the type of move great organizations can make. Having not missed an AFC Championship Game since Toney’s freshman year at Florida, the Chiefs believed that they had the infrastructure to get the best out of a young and talented player who is also a bit immature.
During the 2023 season, Toney caught 27 passes, and dropped five. There were six games in which he recorded one reception or less. The Chiefs listed him inactive for the final three games of the regular season, as well all of their playoff games.
Releasing Toney during the offseason would result in a $2.5 million cap hit, but the Chiefs don’t have any other options. He went off on his current team as they were getting ready to play in the biggest game of the season. If Toney is indeed not actually injured, then the only person to blame for him not being in uniform for more than a month is himself. He played sloppy football, and all of his athletic talents have not shown up on the scoreboard or in the box score this season.
Unless Toney, Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and Brett Veach have a real heart-to-heat and can come up with a plan to help the young wide receiver become a positive contributor to the offense, he has to go. And I don’t see any team wanting to give up an asset for a player who not even the Chiefs could fix.
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