The 2023 NFL season has been a difficult one for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
The offense had many maladies throughout the 2023 campaign, but wide receiver drops took center stage. Kansas City finished the season with a league-high 44 dropped passes — an average of 2.6 drops per game. Toney was one of the key culprits, as he finished the season with five dropped passes. In a Week 14 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, Toney was called for an offside penalty, negating what would have been a go-ahead touchdown with a minute remaining. The following week, Toney's dropped pass turned into an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Toney was listed as inactive for the remainder of the season. The AFC Championship Game marked the sixth consecutive game that the Chiefs put Toney on the inactive list. Kansas City claimed that Toney was inactive due to hip and ankle injuries, but Toney appeared to dispute those claims prior to the AFC Championship Game with a profanity-laden rant on social media.
Toney was not one of the Chiefs players with a podium during Super Bowl Opening Night, but NFL Network's Michael Robinson tracked him for an interview.
Chiefs WR Kadarius Toney stirs controversy during Super Bowl Opening Night
Toney claimed the rant was taken out of context and explained that his comments were directed toward New York Giants fans rather than toward the Chiefs. Robinson quickly followed up with another question: "Are you a No. 1 receiver in this league?"
"Yeah, if I get the ball," Toney said.
Many fans have interpreted that comment as a criticism as well. After all, this season was less about getting the ball than it was about being able to catch the ball. Toney was expected to handle a bigger workload during the 2023 season, but he was unable to live up to the expectations.
Kansas City acquired the former first-round pick in a midseason trade with the New York Giants during the 2022 NFL season. The injury-plagued receiver won over Kansas City fans with his performance in Super Bowl LVII against the Philadelphia Eagles. Toney set a Super Bowl record with a 65-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, then caught a touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first lead of the game.
While Toney is no longer listed on the Chiefs' injury report, but there's no guarantee that he will play in Super Bowl LVIII after his mental errors throughout the season.
Toney's NFL career is perhaps best encapsulated by a singular game: a Week 5 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys during his rookie season. Toney reeled in 10 catches for 189 yards, breaking Odell Beckham Jr.'s single game record for most receiving yards by a rookie in franchise history. Then, he proceeded to get ejected for throwing a punch at safety Damontae Kazee.
Toney has flashed signs of brilliance throughout his career, but his issues with consistency and availability have kept him off the field more often than not. That's likely why the Giants traded him just a year after drafting him.