According to a report, the Kansas City Chiefs are still interested in extending wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s rookie contract, which expires at the end of the coming season.
Late on Friday afternoon, Yahoo! Sports writer (and friend-of-the-site) Terez Paylor reported that the team “remains interested” in a contract extension after the NFL announced Hill will not serve a suspension in 2019.
Now that the NFL has decided against disciplining or fining Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, sources with knowledge of the situation reiterated to Yahoo Sports on Friday that the club remains interested in signing the All-Pro receiver to a contract extension.
In an article on NBCSports’ Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio reported something similar on Friday afternoon — although his source was on the other side of the table.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Hill’s camp hopes to revisit contract talks “as soon as possible.”
On some levels, this makes perfect sense. It is true that before March 15 — when the controversy Chiefs fans have come to call “the Tyreek Hill situation” exploded into view — the Chiefs had indicated that signing Hill and defensive tackle Chris Jones to contract extensions would be an offseason priority. As late as March 5. the Chiefs were said to be negotiating a “record-setting” deal with the All-Pro wide receiver.
Causes for caution
But is signing Hill to a deal right now the right move for the Chiefs? Not everyone thinks so.
Speaking with 610 Sports host Carrington Harrison on The Drive Friday afternoon, Sports Illustrated MMQB writer Albert Breer said he believed the Chiefs would (and should) exercise caution.
“I think they would have gotten something done before the season started had this not happened. Does that happen now? I don’t think so,” he told Harrison. “I think they’re going to move forward cautiously. But one thing you want to remember: they were sort of acting cautiously before this, because [Hill’s former fiancee] Crystal [Espinal] had resurfaced in his life. They were a little nervous about that before all of this. I think you have to give this time to breathe a little bit. I think you go forward [and let Hill] re-establish a track record of good behavior. I would think they would probably at least give it the season and maybe explore it thereafter a little bit. You’ve always got the option of the franchise tag, too.”
But Breer noted that might not turn out to be an option for the Chiefs.
“I know that’s complicated a little bit because you’ve got Chris Jones’ contract situation, too,” he explained. “If you go into next offseason with him unsigned, you don’t have two franchise tags to take care of them. So there are some moving parts there.”
Paylor made essentially the same point in his analysis, but also said that the contract given to Frank Clark — a deal made while the NFL’s decision on Hill’s status was still unknown — could be a factor in the priority the Chiefs assign to getting each deal completed.
It’s easy to see Jones demanding the type of money the Chiefs just gave recently acquired defensive end Frank Clark — five years and $104 million — as he has recorded the same number of sacks (22) that Clark has the past two seasons. For Jones, most of those sacks came in 2018 — which the team could argue is his one year of elite production — while Hill already has three elite seasons to his name. By paying Hill first, the Chiefs could essentially use 2019 to see what Jones looks like in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system.
But Paylor also said that there could be reasons for the Chiefs to exercise caution.
Still, there are obstacles that could affect the timeline of any Hill extension. For one, given the spectacle of this entire ordeal dating to Hill’s initial selection by the Chiefs in 2016, it’s fair to wonder if any new contract would have to include financial protections for the team if Hill runs into future legal issues, whether it come in the form of multiple contract clauses or, at the very least, a base salary-heavy deal.
Furthermore, Paylor said that much about Hill’s personal situation remains unsettled.
There are questions that must still be answered about Hill’s personal life, a source with knowledge of the situation told Yahoo Sports. There are still things that need to play out that will provide closure and comfort that a similar ordeal won’t happen in the future. The child services investigation involving the Kansas Department of Children and Families remains ongoing, for example, and Espinal gave birth to twins and filed a paternity suit last week in which she’s seeking child support and full custody with supervised parenting time for Hill.
Could a trade be possible?
By Saturday morning, Florio was speculating in another article the Chiefs could move on from Hill altogether, noting there had been reports of trade talks involving Hill during the NFL Scouting Combine.
It’s possible that the Chiefs had caught wind of what may be in the pipeline from a legal standpoint and explored cutting and running, but it’s hard to imagine coach Andy Reid deliberately sandbagging another team about a situation that, at the time, could have jeopardized Hill’s 2019 season and possibly beyond. So it’s possible that Hill simply wants more than the Chiefs are able or willing to pay, given that they soon will be both breaking the bank and blowing open the vault for Patrick Mahomes.
Florio’s premise was that the Chiefs’ acquisition of Mecole Hardman in the draft — seen by most as insurance in case Hill faced a substantial suspension in 2019 — might have instead represented a plan to replace Hill altogether.
If Hardman can deliver on that potential, it gives the Chiefs leverage in their talks with Hill, and choices in the event the Chiefs decide that it makes sense to do with Hill in 2020 the same thing they did with Ford in 2019: Apply the franchise tag, and then trade the player.
But both of Florio’s articles on the subject fail to take the situation with Chris Jones into account. Florio’s scenario (or Florinario, if you will) would only be viable if the Chiefs are able to sign Jones to an extension before the free agency period begins next spring. Otherwise — if the Chiefs want to keep Jones — a so-called “tag-and-trade” for Hill will not be an option.
As Breer put it, there are moving parts in the situation. The decision the NFL announced on Friday has made one of them remain still — at least for the time being. How the other parts move and mesh together remains to be seen.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach is going to be earning his money over the next several months.