Early Wednesday rumors began floating that the Chiefs had reached a standstill in extension talks with star wideout Tyreek Hill, opening the door to a trade to Miami.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFcus Charles Robinson @CRob5769
That escalated quickly.
News in the NFL has taken on a lot of the same characteristics are the weather in the Midwest. Don’t like what you’re seeing now? Just wait 5 minutes, it will change.
Shortly after 10 AM central rumors started floating from NFL insiders that the Chiefs and wide receiver Tyreek Hill had stalled out on contract extension talks, and that the team had opened up the door to the star wideout and his representatives to seek a trade. About an hour and a half later, Tyreek Hill is a Miami Dolphin, and the Chiefs are now in search of a WR1 less than a week after finally finding their WR2 in Juju Smith-Schuster. In return for the All-Pro wideout, the Chiefs received five draft picks – a 1st (29 overall), 2nd (50 overall), and 4th round pick in 2022, and 4th and 6th round picks in 2023.
The trade comes as a shock to many in Chiefs Kingdom, as there has been no reports or even rumors of bad blood or lack of progress in the negotiations between Hill and the team until this morning. Hindsight is always 20/20, however, and the lack of action over the course of the past 2 weeks should have been a sign that things were not going as planned. Over that time frame, several free agent wide receivers, including Christian Kirk whose deal with Jacksonville matched Hill’s previous annual salary with the Chiefs, undoubtedly reset the floor of the wide receiver market. Then came the big swing, when the Raiders traded for Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams, whom many consider the best at the position in the NFL, that reset the ceiling. Adams subsequently signed a 5-year, $140 million contract with Las Vegas – the highest ever for a non-quarterback. At that point, the price tag for Hill went up again, and it apparently became too much for the Chiefs to justify.
In a matter of 6 days the wide receiver market was turned on its head league wide. In a matter of 5 days the Chiefs went from having a loaded receiving corps to being in search of a number 1 target for Patrick Mahomes, and in a matter of an hour and a half Tyreek Hill traded in his red and yellow for teal and orange.
There are two prevailing schools of thought online right now. I’ll try to summarize both as briefly as I can.
These fans and pontificators see the deal as an objectively good thing for Kansas City. Not only did the Chiefs free up cap space immediately (around $16.5 million), they avoided hamstringing themselves with another sky high contract and avoided a Groundhog Day scenario where cap issues plague the team for the next 4-5 offseasons. KC also got a haul in draft capital back from Hill that can be utilized to build the roster further and bring in additional proven veterans on offense or defense. Brett Veach is a genius.
Team “What the f*ck?!”:
We just gave up the best wide out in the league and didn’t even get a current NFL player in return? Why no Jaylon Waddle?! How did we not get picks 4 and 10 from the Jets? Brett Veach is the worst GM in the history of the NFL.
As is the case with all things internet and NFL opinions, the true answer is somewhere in the middle of these two things. Rapid reactions are rarely long-term truths.
So what does this mean for the Chiefs? Well, to start, they got far more out of Tyreek Hill than the Packers got out of Davante Adams. The Chiefs secured a first, second, and fourth round pick in 2022 and 2 more picks in 2023. The Packers got a first and second rounder from the Raiders in 2022. So not only one more pick in this year’s draft for Hill, but also a mid-round and late round pick in 2023. If we’re comparing apples to apples with the top 2 wide receivers in the NFL changing teams in the last 6 days, the Chiefs certainly did much better than Green Bay.
That’s all good and well, but how does this benefit KC? The Chiefs just lost a generational talent at wide receiver without getting a tangible player asset back from the Dolphins. Speculation in the hour and a half leading up to the trade had Dolphins wideout Jaylon Waddle as a part of the package to send Hill to Miami. That was not the case. What did happen, though, is something that is going to require a little bit of faith from Chiefs Kingdom – the Chiefs now have assets.
Follow me here. KC now has 12 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, including 2 first and 2 second round selections.
Round 1 : 29, 30
Round 2 : 50, 62
Round 3 : 94, 102
Round 4 : either 121 or 125 (from Miami), 135
Round 7: 233, 243, 251, 259
We just recalled what the Raiders traded to get Davante Adams. The Chiefs now have the fire power to do several things leading up to or before draft day including trading for another wide receiver (or two), trading up in the draft to get a player that they need at the wide receiver or another position (ie corner or edge), or they can stay put and draft as they are currently slated. The last option is the least likely, in my opinion.
All offseason long the Kingdom has been impatient with GM Brett Veach, wondering why the Chiefs didn’t make moves early on in free agency while others were seemingly stacking up to take the AFC back from Kansas City. Sure, the team made some good moves in bringing in Justin Reid, restructuring Frank Clark, and signing Juju for next to nothing (1 year, $3 million guaranteed), but where was the splashy move? Well, it came today, but not in the form that the fanbase was seeking.
Dealing Tyreek Hill makes sense financially for the Chiefs. While finalized contract numbers with Miami haven’t been released yet, it’s speculated that in total he’ll be there for 4 years and make about $120 million. Simply put – the Chiefs could not and should not have paid Hill that much. With a roster that is top heavy, it is inevitable that the team is going to have to part ways with star players in a manner such as this. With Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Orlando Brown (franchise tag), Joe Thuney, and Chris Jones all having massive contracts, something eventually was going to have to give. Unfortunately, it was Hill. This was simply bad timing to try to extend a franchise wide receiver. The team will also clear up about $16.5 million in cap space for 2022, opening the door to not just bring in new weapons on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball, but to handsomely pay whoever that (or those) players may be.
As for Tyreek Hill, we wish him nothing but the best in Miami. He is a player that doesn’t need much of a synopsis for Chiefs fans, but I will recap a little of his career. Hill has been nothing short of historic in his time in Kansas City. In his 6 seasons as a Chief he’s been voted to the Pro Bowl all 6 years, has been a First Team All Pro 3 times (once as a returner, twice as a wide receiver), and has been the favorite and most explosive weapon for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He was an integral part of the Chiefs 2019 Super Bowl championship Hill ranks 5th all time in receiving yards for the franchise and 4th in touchdowns. He is without question one of the top wide receivers in the NFL at the moment, and would almost certainly have ended up as the top wide receiver in Chiefs history if he were to end his career in KC.
Many folks online like to “grade” or declare winners and losers of trades immediately after they occur. Many of these same people, placed in 1989, would have said that the Cowboys got fleeced by the Vikings in the Herschel Walker trade. Those picks that the Cowboys acquired turned into Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, and Darren Woodson. It is impossible to tell who is going to come out on top of this deal an hour after it was made, so I’m not going to pretend like I know right now as many of the hot take machines online are doing at the moment.
Does this suck? Well, yeah, of course it sucks. Players like Tyreek Hill are the guys you imagine will never go anywhere – lifetime Chiefs. But at the end of the day, from a long-term organizational health perspective, the Chiefs are going to inevitably need to make decisions like this one. When you have a player like Mahomes at QB and you pay him like the team has, weapons are going to rotate. With the hard cap in the NFL, it’s impossible to keep the league’s best QB, tight end, and WR forever. It just is. To me, this is a win/win situation – Tyreek Hill gets paid and gets to live in South Beach, and the Chiefs swapped his rights for the ability to wheel and deal with draft capital and immediately expendable cap space. Is the team better right now that they were at the end of 2021? No. But they’re no longer at a standstill wondering how to do that – the door is wide open for Brett Veach to make moves. Whether he does or not will define his legacy in Kansas City.