Read quotes from Patrick Mahomes, Nick Bolton and Donovan Smith on May 24.
Q: You’ve got a new backup quarterback behind you with Blaine Gabbert. How has that been going? What are your first thoughts?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I mean first off I knew of Blaine (Gabbert) from (former Chiefs QB) Chad (Henne with) them playing in Jacksonville together and Chad spoke very highly of him. And then since he’s been in the building, he’s been a true pro and he’s came in – you see the talent (and) you see why he was a, I think, I believe top 10 draft pick or a first round draft pick and the arm strength there and things like that. And he was just backing up (former Buccaneers QB) Tom (Brady) so I’m asking for any advice he can give me because if you’re learning from that guy, you’re learning from the right guy so just another good quarterback (and) good guy that can be in that quarterback room.”
Q: One of the changes you have had is a new offensive coordinator with the promotion of Matt Nagy. What’s that transition been like?
MAHOMES: “It’s been easy, I think for me, just because I was here when he was the OC the first time. Obviously, (former Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy) EB will be missed. I mean the way he was able to take us and lead us to be the offense that we’ve had these last few years, so he’ll definitely be missed but I’m glad it’s someone that I’m comfortable with, someone that I’ve worked with before. I think the guys are starting to learn on how he wants things done. Even though (it’s) the same system, it’s obviously a little bit different on the guy and the coach and stuff like that. It’s been a smooth transition so far and now it’s about kind of continuing to build and build until the season.”
Q: I know that it’s early but what’s your overall assessment of this group of receivers?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I mean, I think we’re deep. I think that’s the biggest thing. Usually, you have a good feel for kind of who the guys are going to be and everything like that but with this group it’s like every single guy I could see him making a path to making the team. And so, I mean that’s what you want. You want that competition. I thought even the young guys that have stepped in have stepped in and done a lot of great things and guys from other systems have stepped in and done great things. So, (there’s) a lot of competition in that room will play out through OTAs and camp but I’m happy with where we’re at in that receiving room.”
Q: What have been your impressions of the new guys on the offensive line and in particular Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, no, I think we’re at a good spot. Obviously, we lost two good tackles this last year and we’re bringing in two guys that have had success at other places so they’re getting familiar with how we do things, the words, what I’m saying at the line of scrimmage and everything like that but as far as talent and work ethic they’re both at the very top of that. It helps to have those three guys in the middle to help them through the process of learning a new system and then another position where the depth – I mean if you look at our second O-line you would say that starts a lot of other places. I mean I think (General Manager) Brett Veach and (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid have done a great job of bringing in talent so we can have that competition day in and day out.”
Q: You had grown very close with Orlando Brown. What did you make of him going to one of your biggest rivals when he signed with the Bengals?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, it’s tough. I still talk to Orlando (Brown). We had a friendship off the field just as much as on the field. You understand how great of a player he is. He makes Cincinnati an even better football team so that stinks for us but at the same time I’m happy for him that he got to a good place where he was able to get a good contract that he deserved and everything like that. We’ll still have that friendship but he’s a competitor like me so we’re going to be wanting to be able to brag about who wins that football game.”
Q: We heard that Rashee Rice ran some routes with you in Texas before the Draft. What were your impressions of him from that?
MAHOMES: “I think what you’ve all seen now even to this day now that he’s been here is I like the feel that he had when he was running the routes. A lot of times you get a lot (of) young dudes who are extremely athletic and they just run as fast as they can. And they’re just running around, and they don’t know exactly where to be at. And where I could feel where he would sit there and he would listen to guys like Trav (Kelce), he would listen to Kadarius (Toney) and those guys would talk and he would get a feel for how he was running the route and obviously you know he has the explosiveness and the jump ball ability but the way he was able to kind of feel throughout the zone coverages and pull up in the right spot, that’s more of a veteran type mindset for a receiver so I was very excited about that. And now we’ll just continue to work him in here and there and continue to push him to be better and better and he’ll have an impact in this offense this year.”
Q: You have the opportunity to go to just about any event you want, especially in the offseason. How do you keep yourself grounded? Where have you been traveling this offseason?
MAHOMES: “Well when you have two kids it kind of keeps you grounded (laughter). No, I’ve been able to do a lot of stuff. Obviously went to the Met Gala and Formula 1 and the Kentucky Derby – stuff that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby, but I wanted to win the Super Bowl before I went and obviously the last one we had COVID that cancelled that so I was glad that we were able to experience that. It was an awesome race. It’s just picking and choosing what you can do and then now we’re back in football, so you’re kind of really locking down and getting your body back in the right spot. I have a few more trips but nothing too major. I’ve kind of settled down for the rest of the offseason.”
Q: What do you enjoy about OTAs? What’s the value?
MAHOMES: “It’s just building those relationships. We’ve had a lot of turnover on this team over the last few years and I think you’ve seen that we’re still a close knit group and I think that just comes with almost everybody being here for OTAs and everybody coming into training camp and we build those relationships and I think that’s what makes us a great football team. I mean, everyone’s talented in this league but I think you’ve got guys that are all on the same page, offense, defense, special teams – that’s what takes you to the next level.”
Q: From your perspective having the entire offensive line and having veterans like Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire present, what does it do for you?
MAHOMES: “Yeah it just keeps you on top of things. I think that you just – you’re in here, you’re working. Like I said, you build those relationships; you kind of teach the little, small things that we do within our offense and everything like that. I think you stay on top of it. You stay fresh. I think that’s the biggest thing. There’s a lot of competition, we take care of each other. I’m out there but at the same time guys push and it helps when guys like those veteran offensive linemen and like Trav (Kelce) and all these guys are here because then it shows we all need to get in the building and get the work in and (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid takes care of us. And he’s going to push you and he knows when to kind of pull back and let guys enjoy the offseason because we have played a lot of games over these last few years.”
Q: We hear about super star players not being approachable. Do you try to make it a point to go and talk to your younger guys?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, I think that’s part of it. I grew up in a locker room, so I got to see kind of both sides of it. I definitely – the guys that were kind of more relationship guys that would hang out with even more or hang out with other guys, I knew that I wanted to be like them when I grew up. And so I got to see it from both perspectives and I knew if I ever got in this position I knew I wanted to be the guy that’s shooting in the locker room and doing whatever it is, hanging out with guys outside the building. Don’t tell (General Manager Brett) Veach about the shooting part (laughter). But hanging out with guys outside the facility if that’s at soccer games or baseball games or anything like that. I think that’s part of the culture that I kind of brought into here and it’s really cool because then you get to go out there when you have success you get to go to (the) parade and it’s guys that you truly enjoy being around and having success with.”
Q: You mentioned not being able to go to a few celebrations after the first Super Bowl win due to COVID. What does it mean to be invited to the White House and to be going this time around?
MAHOMES: “Yeah, it’ll be definitely a cool experience. I’ve never been to the White House or even seen it. I’ve been around a lot with my dad, but I haven’t been able to even see it so I’m excited to get there and see the history of it and the history that that building, and that city has had on America and everything like that. So, it’ll be a cool experience for us and I’m glad that we get to participate in that this year. So, it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime thing that I’m excited to experience.”
Q: How do you feel now three years after your deal? What do you want to see happen with your contract? Does it need to be renegotiated?
MAHOMES: “I always keep – me, my agent and the team always keep open communication. We try to do whatever is the best for the team but obviously I want to do the best for myself as well. But at the same time, I’ve always said, I worry about legacy and winning rings more than making money at this moment. But I know we keep communication. We see what’s going on around the league but at the same time I’ll never do anything that’s going to hurt us from keeping the great players that around me. So, it’s kind of teetering around that line.”
Q: You’re not driven to be the highest paid quarterback average per year?
MAHOMES: “No, it’s more of a – you just want to do whatever to not hurt other quarterbacks whenever their contracts come up. You want to kind of keep the bar pushing. It’s not about being the highest paid guy, it’s not about making a ton of money. I’ve made enough money where I’ll be set for the rest of my life. But at the same time, you’ve got to find that line where you’re making a good amount of money but you’re still keeping a lot of great players around you so you can win these Super Bowls and you’re able to compete in these games.”
Q: Is that a hard line to walk?
MAHOMES: “Yeah it is. I think it is for all these guys and I think you see the guys that are getting paid this last offseason they’re trying to find that right spot. Everybody wants to get paid a lot of money and they think they’re the best at their craft (and so) they want to get paid like that. But at the same time if you look at the greats in the league, they find that right spot where they get paid a lot of money but at the same time keeping a lot of these great players around me. I understand you look at the team and you know you’ve got guys like Chris (Jones) and (L’Jarius) Sneed and even Travis (Kelce), all these guys that you need to keep around you to have these great teams but at the same time you want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. We have open communication; I think that’s the biggest thing. You see that from (Chairman & CEO) Clark (Hunt), you see that from (Head) Coach (Andy) Reid, you see that from (General Manager Brett) Veach, and everybody is we just try to make sure we have the best team on that football field, and everybody gets what they deserve.”
Q: What’s it been like dealing with your brother’s recent legal matter?
MAHOMES: “Honestly, it’s kind of a personal thing that I’m just kind of am going to keep to myself. At the end of the day, I come here to play football and try to take care of my family at the same time so just kind of keep it to myself and just go out there and play football when I’m in the building.”
Q: It seems like you’ve gotten good at balancing the personal and private life while in the spotlight?
MAHOMES: “I think that’s a process everyone has to navigate in life. Obviously, I’m on a bigger stage but at the same time, it’s your family but you have to come in here and do a job and that’s what I try to do every day.”
LB NICK BOLTON
Q: Do you see Bryan Cook on his way to being a leader for the defense?
BOLTON: “Yeah, ever since he was a rookie I could tell he has confidence about him, (the) ability just to talk. If he’s 100% wrong, he makes you believe he’s 100% right (laughter). So, that’s the confidence you need to have in the back end and we’re loving that. So, he’s growing. You can tell he’s put a lot of work in the offseason, Phase 1, Phase 2 and now leading into this Phase 3. Being able to echo calls, get guys lined up and even if we’re trying to show something, we’re doing wrong, he’ll make sure we know about it. So, we love that. Willie’s (Gay) liking that too. We love the competition he brings.”
Q: As someone who’s going into their third season, how do you tell the young guys what you’ve learned to avoid the “sophomore slump”?
BOLTON: “Yeah, I feel like as a rookie, through my own experiences, you(‘re) kind of just playing and trying to not let anybody down around you – the other 10 guys. And as you try to grasp it, you keep going (with) expectations on you. And so, it’s just kind of embracing and having fun with them. Football’s not fun without the expectations, especially here. The expectation is to win and compete for championships. So, just taking that in and just trying to evolve your game and be one step better every single day. I feel like that kind of leads into the season and you just let everything else happen after that. So, you just got to put yourself in that position to be better than you were last year.”
Q: When you think about the White House visit that’s coming up, what does that mean to you?
BOLTON: “Yeah, ever since I was little I knew that champions got the chance to go to the White House. I never had the opportunity to go to the White House up to this point, whether it be for school or vacation or anything. So, just from my personal experience, I want to go experience that. I know my teammates want to experience that as well.”
Q: You mentioned you haven’t graduated college yet. How important is it for you to finish your education?
BOLTON: “It’s very important. My pop and mama all left with a degree. I didn’t have the opportunity to do that because of COVID. It kind of kept me from finishing during summer classes unless you absolutely had to have one in order to be eligible, so that kind of put me behind a little bit. But it is very important for me. I will not finish my NFL career without my degree.”
T DONOVAN SMITH
Q: What’s the experience been like so far with the Chiefs?
SMITH: “It’s been great. Obviously, you see why they’re a championship team the way that they prepare from top to bottom – coaches to players. It’s good to see. The locker room is good. You obviously see the camaraderie that they have, hanging out with each other and what not. I’m kind of just feeling my way around and figuring some things out and whatnot but other than that, everything’s been smooth.”
Q: You have played against the Chiefs over the past few years. What are your thoughts from playing against them?
SMITH: “They’ve always been a good defense, sound defense. You know, in the right spots, playing right off each other and that’s what you look for. Obviously, you’ve got great guys over there. We’ve had some new signings as well with Charles (Omenihu) and everything. You know anytime you get Chris Jones, arguable one of the best 3-techs out there (and) interior linemen, to get it done. You tie those together with the linebackers and defensive backs, you know everything is good. You know to be able to go against them but to now we’re on the same squad is good.”
Q: What are your first impressions of this offensive line room given that you were a part of one of the most talented offensive lines last year?
SMITH: “It’s real good. You can see why (they’re good). Everybody’s talking with each other, making sure we’re all on the same page, obviously. You know we just make sure they bring everybody up to speed. That’s something you look for in an offensive line room because you know, five minds all the one same page is what matters. Everything else – physicality, footwork and stuff we take care of that at practice and whatnot with (Offensive Line Coach) Coach (Andy) Heck. In terms of the guys, you know, they’re great! No bad news yet (laughter).”
Q: What have your discussions with Head Coach Andy Reid been like?
SMITH: “They’ve been pretty cool. You know he’s an offensive line guy, so that’s always a good thing. Anytime you got a coach (who’s) a fan favorite of O-line you automatically kind of get a whatever you want to call it – a good pass. But no, you can see why he’s a player’s coach. He communicates with a lot of guys. He coaches you hard, but he understands that nothing’s perfect and you know we’re going to get the job done but at the end of the day we’re working. So, to be able to have that leadership from him, consistently through the years just speaks volumes to the man that he is and the coach that he is.”