Whoa. I don’t think anyone saw this coming:
It’s a nice haul for the Chiefs in terms of draft picks. They have the 29th and 30th picks in the draft now. Right now, the website I use for mock drafts (Tankathon) has the Chiefs grabbing WR Jameson Williams from Alabama and LB Nakobe Dean from Georgia, which would be an amazing draft if they’re able to actually get those two.
- My first thought upon hearing this was that the Chiefs couldn’t afford to pay him what he was worth in light of the new Davante Adams contract resetting the wide receiver market. While I’m not 100% sure this is true, I have a hunch this might be a result of Mahomes’ mammoth contract. This is the kind of thing that happens when you give your QB max money. The Packers have dealt with this type of salary cap constraint for over a decade now because Aaron Rodgers won’t ever take a paycut. The Saints dealt with it for many years with Drew Brees’ contract. Massive QB contracts are team killers. Everyone knows it, but still, they continue to shell out ridiculous money for these QBs–teams know that if they don’t, someone else will.
- My next thought was that this makes the Chiefs noticeably worse. Outside of Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill was the Chiefs’ most important player. I’m not saying Hill is a better player than Travis Kelce, because that’s debatable. I’m saying Hill was more important to the Chiefs offense than Kelce. Hill took the top off of defenses. He made it so defenses couldn’t bracket Kelce. Now teams will just double Kelce every play and dare Juju and Mecole Hardman to beat them. Tyreek Hill is the best deep receiver in the league and was a big part of the reason Kansas City’s offense was so dangerous and had so much quick-strike potential. Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs was the most dangerous player in the league in terms of a guy who was a threat to score from literally anywhere.
- So, I think it’s a massive blow to the Chiefs. It almost takes the heart and soul of that Chiefs offense away, and there is no other player in the league that can replace Tyreek Hill. There are other fast guys, but none with his full skillset–his route running, his ability to get open, his burst, his ability to run after the catch. There’s just nobody else like him, and thus it’s impossible to replace him.
- However, nobody better let the Chiefs draft Jameson Williams. I’m telling you. If there’s any guy in the draft that compares to Tyreek Hill, it’s Williams. Now of course he’s not Tyreek Hill, but he is a burner who can score from anywhere. The league better not let the Chiefs get Jameson Williams, because getting him would be the best-case scenario for the Chiefs. That’s probably the guy the Chiefs want. They’re looking at him and salivating. Again, he’s probably not going to be as good as Hill, but he has the potential to be extremely dangerous in that Chiefs offense with Mahomes. The league better not let the Chiefs get him.
- Boy, if this isn’t the year Tua figures it out, he never will. He’s now got Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and now Terron Armstead, one of the best offensive linemen in the league. This is do or die for Tua.
- I don’t think Tyreek will be as good in Miami as he was with Kansas City. It’s inevitable when you downgrade quarterbacks from Mahomes to Tua. For this same reason, I don’t think Davante Adams will be as good on the Raiders as he was with the Packers. Nothing against Derek Carr, but he’s a downgrade from Aaron Rodgers, and I don’t even think Carr himself would deny that.
- Tyreek Hill just turned 28. That’s still young for NFL wide receiver standards. A 2019 article on Fantasy Pros by the late Mike Tagliere (RIP) looked into when receivers typically peak and he found that starting at age 32 is when receivers being to decline. We’ve certainly seen some guys persist at a very high level at age 32 or later, but they’re exceptions to the rule. Lo and behold, the Dolphins gave Hill a 4-year contract that expires right when he turns… 32. Teams are aware of this stuff.
- The thing with Tyreek Hill, though, is that because he relies so heavily on his speed, he’ll probably start falling off sooner than the average receiver, and it’ll be more noticeable with him. I would not expect him to be playing at this elite level 4 years from now. But the Dolphins will get at least a few great years out of him–he’s still a blue-chip player. They wouldn’t have given so much up to get him (and given him such a massive contract) if he was on the decline. Chiefs fans who are hoping that the Chiefs only traded Hill because they noticed he was starting to look washed; that’s not the case. They got such a huge haul for him because he’s not washed.
- The choice the Chiefs were faced with was this: do we pay Tyreek Hill $30 million a year and lock him up through the prime of his career, or do we flip him now for some great draft picks, even while he still has a few more seasons of elite play left in him? The Chiefs went the Bill Belichick route: they sold high on a great player who still has some good years left in him. The only way you can actually sell high and get a great return on a player is if you are willing to give him up before he starts declining. A lot of fans don’t understand that. They want their favorite team to get all of a player’s best years, then trade him when he starts to show signs of aging–but still get massive value for him as if the other team didn’t notice the player was starting to decline. That’s not how it works. To get a lot, you have to give a lot. It’s not Madden where you can force trades. Teams aren’t stupid. It’s very rare that teams will get fleeced.
- Bill Belichick was really the one who pioneered this model of treating players essentially as stocks or assets. His whole approach was to find great, young players in the draft, develop them, get great years out of them while they’re young and cheap, and then, when it comes time to pay them a fat contract, you let them walk and let some other team pay them the big bucks–or, you trade them in the prime of their career and get lots of great draft picks in return, which you can turn into more great players. Belichick’s philosophy was that not only was he going to get 75% of a player’s prime years, he was also going to flip that player for picks. It’s like it’s not enough to him to just find a good player and get a lot of good years out of him–you also have to eventually flip him for draft assets, too. It’s genius when you think about it, but it often doesn’t look like it at the time. The Chiefs are doing it right now with Tyreek Hill.
Ultimately, however, I think this is a serious blow to Kansas City. I’m not saying they’re going to become a mediocre team or anything, Mahomes is too good to let that happen. But they are no longer the scariest team in the league. They’re much closer to the rest of the pack now. That’s the bottom line.
What a wild NFL offseason it has been:
Add Matt Ryan to that list, too.
Part of me wonders if Roger Goodell has been watching how much social media buzz the NBA generates with its player movement, and wanted the NFL to have that same sort of drama–the never-ending rumor mill, the periodic shocker blockbuster trades that stop the sports world in its tracks, etc.
We are seeing contracts previously believed to be “untradeable” be traded (e.g., Matt Ryan). We’re seeing some of the best players in the league get traded.
The NFL wants the offseason drama ramped up to NBA levels.
I don’t know if I’ve written about it here on this site, but if you look at the NFL’s calendar, the league has gotten to the point where it has something going on to keep fans engaged and media coverage constant in every month of the year.
Let’s break it down by month:
- January: Playoffs
- February: Super Bowl
- March: Free agency, Combine, Owners’ meetings (rule changes debated)
- April: The Draft, next season’s schedule released (sometimes in May)
- May: Draft analysis and reaction, rookie minicamp,
- June: OTAs & Mandatory minicamp
- July: Training camp begins
- August: Preseason & Hard Knocks
- September – December: the regular season
The NFL wants to dominate headlines all year long and given how much attention we’re all paying to free agency right now, in late March, the NFL is doing a hell of a job. I mean, it has been nonstop NFL since last August, really.
Eventually, the NFL is going to get the 18-game schedule, and the Super Bowl will be pushed back to the third weekend of February, which means it’ll fall on President’s Day weekend, which in turn means the day after the Super Bowl will be a national holiday, and the Super Bowl will become an even bigger spectacle.
This is why the NFL is the king.