As the NFL draft draws near, the Chiefs still have several holes left to fill on their roster. While they currently have 10 draft picks to use as they please, they could also use the picks to add to their roster in another way, trading for an established player. While the Chiefs couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without the outstanding play of their 2022 rookie class, it’s hard to rely on that sort of impact from rookies every year. It’s safe to say that as long as Mahomes and Reid are together, they will make the Chief’s offense work, but it also wouldn’t hurt to add some established talent. As it currently stands, this Chiefs’ defense, at least on paper, is the most talented we have seen since the Mahomes era officially began in 2018. However, one thing we’ve learned in recent years, you can never have too many people who can rush the passer. So, today let’s look at four realistic trade options that are available to the Chiefs. We will start from the most likely the trade will happen to the least likely. Remember, NFL trades are hard. Not only do both teams want value from the trade, but they also have to line up on the financial side. The Chiefs are currently sitting somewhere around $5 million in cap space, and about half of that will go to rookie contracts. However, a Chris Jones extension would free up enough space for the Chiefs to pursue any of the following trades. Lastly, Deandre Hopkins won’t be included on this list. Every Chiefs fan in existence wants this trade to happen, but as discussed, it would be incredibly difficult for this trade to happen due to financial reasons. Not to mention the Cardinals seem to be standing firm on not moving him for less than a 2nd round pick. It could very well still happen, but I wouldn’t bet on it as things stand.
Most Realistic: Rams WR, Allen Robinson
The Rams have been openly shopping Allen Robinson after signing him to a 3-year $46,500,000 deal. He carries an $18,050,000 cap hit in 2023, but if the Chiefs were to trade for him the Rams would have to agree to pay for part of his salary. The Chiefs would then be on the hook for his 2024 cap number of $18,550,000. However, they could cut him for a dead cap hit of $8,400,000, while saving over ten million against the cap. So, either he outplays his contract and likely gets an extension, or the Chiefs can move on with very little consequence.
Robinson had a down year in 2022, but so did the Rams roster in general. They had a rotating door at QB due to injuries, and Robinson was never able to find his footing in LA. Never have more than 7 targets in a single game. For perspective, Robinson averaged over 9 targets a game in 2020 when he played for Chicago. While there are a lot of question marks around Robinson, if everything checks out, then he has a true WR1 upside. The Chiefs wouldn’t have to trade much to acquire him, and his salary cap number is manageable if the Rams agree to pay some of it in order to facilitate the trade. Perhaps Allen Robinson could revitalize his career in Kansas City.
KC Receives: Allen Robinson
LA Receives: 2023 6th Round pick (178)
Possible: Vikings EDGE, Za’Darius Smith
In an odd turn of events this offseason, Za’Darius Smith tweeted out what seemed to be a goodbye to the Vikings:
I just want to say “Thank you!” to Skol Nation for an amazing season & experience! Thank you to all of my Teammates, Coaches & the entire Minnesota Vikings Organization! 💜 pic.twitter.com/LAVAy5jptS
— Za'Darius Smith (@zadariussmith) March 9, 2023
It later came out that he indeed had requested to be released. However, the Vikings made it clear they had no intentions of doing so. While it is an odd situation, the Vikings signing of Marcus Davenport may signal that they have not fully mended the situation with Smith and may be willing to move him in a trade. Despite being 30 years old, Smith is still a productive player off the edge, producing 10 sacks for the Vikings in 2022.
This could be a win-win scenario for both sides. The Vikings have already signed another player to play Smith’s role, and could still gain value for a player who may or may not want to play for them anymore. The Chiefs on the other hand get a premier pass-rusher for a bargain value. Perhaps playing with Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Travis Kelce will make Smith want to stick around Kansas City for more than just a year.
KC Receives: Za’Darius Smith
MN Receives: 2023 4th Round Pick (134), Conditional 2024 5th Round Pick
Unlikely: Commanders EDGE, Chase Young
This is where the trades become trickier, but also aren’t impossible. The Commanders haven’t made it obvious that Chase Young is available, but they are openly debating whether or not to exercise his 5th-year option. Not a great sign for the former number 2 overall pick in the draft. Young was seen by some as a generational talent but has yet to have a season with more than 7.5 sacks, only producing 2 sacks in the last 2 years. Of course, this has mostly been due to injury missing 22 straight games after tearing his ACL.
The Commanders are in an interesting position, where they are tight on cap space despite not paying a franchise QB. Montez Sweat is also entering a contract year, and may not be happy that he hasn’t received an extension yet. The Commanders cannot afford to pay all of their defensive lineman, and they could recoup the most value by trading away Young. This year’s draft class also appears to be loaded on defensive end talent, so the Commanders could even use the picks they get from the trade to re-invest on their defensive line.
If the Chiefs can land Young, they get one of highest upside players in the entire league in a vital position. Young hasn’t reached his full potential yet, and still has rust to knock off from his injury, but paired with Joe Cullen and Steve Spagnuolo he could turn into the superstar that the league expected him to be.
KC Receives: Chase Young
WAS Receives: 2023 1st-round pick (31), 2024 2nd-round pick
Extremely Unlikely: 49ers WR, Brandon Aiyuk
Of all the players the Chiefs could trade for, including Deandre Hopkins, Brandon Aiyuk is my favorite target. The reason I believe it is unlikely is that it doesn’t make sense for the 49ers to trade him, at least not yet. The 49ers are picking up Aiyuk’s 5th-year option, which means they still technically have him under contract for 2 more years. The 49ers Super Bowl window is wide open, so why would they trade away one of their best young players before they need to? It’s much more likely for the 49ers to hold onto Aiyuk for this season, and re-visit trade discussions next offseason.
That being said, if the 49ers would trade Aiyuk this offseason for the right price, then he would be a perfect fit in Kansas City. Aiyuk is a dynamic route runner, and would be a direct upgrade to what the Chiefs had last season in Juju Smith-Schuster. He can get open in the short and intermediate areas of the field, taking stress off of Kelce, and leaving clear roles for both Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore to fill. He is about as perfect an addition you could make the current roster, and he’s only 25 years old. Yes, the Chiefs would have to figure out a way to pay him long-term, but we all know Brett Veach can make it happen. So, while it’s unlikely to happen this offseason, Aiyuk is a name to watch in the near future.
KC Receives: Brandon Aiyuk, 2024 3rd round pick
SF Receives: 2023 1st round pick (31), 2023 3rd round pick (95), 2024 2nd round pick