Wednesday, June 22, 2022
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The impact of the Tyreek Hill trade for the Chiefs

In an unexpected move, the Kansas City Chiefs traded away star wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. In return, Kansas City received five picks. These include a 2022 first, second and fourth-round pick. They will also receive a 2023 fourth and sixth-round pick. 

In an offseason that’s had numerous ground-shaking moves, the Chiefs’ decision to move on from their star receiver will surely have its aftershocks. Here are the three biggest impacts the trade will have on Kansas City moving forward. 

An open playbook for free agency

After losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs had to address multiple positions in free agency. Kansas City desperately needed a strong WR2, a new cornerback, and a revitalized pass rush to continue its dominance of the AFC. However, they were $11 million over the cap.

After numerous contract restructures, the Chiefs freed up enough cap space to sign up-and-coming receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, something kept the team from being aggressive buyers.

Hill’s contract with Kansas City was enormous, taking up almost 15% of the cap. For months, the team wanted to extend him to a longer and larger contract, which would have saved a significant amount of money while keeping their best weapon. Of course, things changed. 

The Chiefs freed up more than $20 million in cap space when they traded the speedster. With more money available, the front office worked its magic to replace Hill’s production and bulk up the team. Starting with the signing of Marquez Valdez-Scantling, the tall and quick receiver from the Green Bay Packers, the team also went after former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones.

Kansas City also continues to show significant interest in cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and James Bradberry. Acquiring either one of those defensive players would amplify a defense that lost the likes of Tyrann Mathieu and Charvarius Ward. Free agency still includes significant talent, including Landon Collins, Eddie Goldman and Jadeveon Clowney. Any of these players would be instant upgrades on a thin Chiefs defense. 

A new approach to the draft

Trading away Hill gifted Kansas City numerous picks to work with as the upcoming NFL Draft slowly approaches. With six selections in the first three rounds, there are many rookies that fans should keep an eye on. 

Wide receiver Jameson Williams would fill the void of Tyreek Hill, providing speed and height to dominate the outside. Wideout Christian Watson played in a run-heavy offense at North Dakota State but can be utilized like A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans. 

If Andrew Booth Jr. falls below the 20th pick, a trade-up for the Clemson corner would bolster the secondary. Boye Mafe is a great late first-round selection for the Chiefs, with his pure athleticism and strength becoming the necessary jolt for the pass rush. 

David Ojabo’s recent achilles tear has hindered his draft stock, but he would be an amazing developmental prospect. 

Kansas City has numerous prospects who they can curate into future replacements to older players on the team. 

Who else is expendable?

Hill’s position as a bonafide speedster didn’t save him from being traded away. If a top-caliber player can be moved, who else can leave this season?

Defensive tackle Chris Jones’ contract takes up $29 million in cap space. As he heads towards the final year of his extension, Kansas City can find his replacement in this draft so that they can move on from him. Meanwhile, the rumors of Frank Clark’s departure could come to fruition if he is unable to produce in the regular season. 

Offensively, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s slow development could lead to him being traded if Ronald Jones takes up a significant role. Mecole Hardman will also be entering a make-or-break season, where he can demand more money if he boosts his production.  

As things continue to shake out, it’s time to buckle up Chiefs Kingdom. This is going to be another wild offseason. 

camtkb@umsystem.edu

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