When we first learned that the Kansas City Chiefs were trading with the New York Giants for wide receiver Kadarius Toney, the first question on everyone’s mind was how Kansas City head coach Andy Reid planned on using the former first-round selection.
Unsurprisingly, Reid did not lay out a detailed plan as he answered the media’s questions about Toney on Monday afternoon. Instead, he spoke of his initial reactions to the acquisition made by general manager Brett Veach.
“It’s a nice addition by Brett,” Reid pointed out. “He is healthy right now, which is a good thing. I look forward to getting him in the mix somehow, we’re working through that; we’re meeting as an offensive staff and going through those things now.”
Toney joins a room that was already working to mix in the five wide receivers that have made an impact this season. He projects to be the sixth man — which doesn’t include the Chiefs’ running backs and tight ends who also see passes.
“We’ve got one football — and a few guys that we like to get the ball to,” Reid acknowledged. “We’ll see how he fits in. I’m not expecting him to learn the whole offense in a day. I think it’ll be a gradual process moving forward. He’s a smart kid, so I’m sure he’ll pick it up relatively fast.”
The Chiefs set a midseason precedent last year with wide receiver Josh Gordon, playing him two weeks after signing him to the roster; he recorded an 11-yard reception during the nine snaps he played in his first game. While Toney isn’t the veteran that Gordon was, he may have the talent to follow a similar timeline.
The difference this year is that Toney may not be as necessary for short-term success. In 2021, the Chiefs’ offense needed a spark. But this season, Toney joins right after a very impressive game from the team’s wide receivers.
“We have a handful of guys that are very capable,” Coach Reid reiterated. “We try to exploit everybody’s strengths and use them as we go, then work on whatever weaknesses they have. That allows us to get guys in a decent position to do what we think they can do best. It won’t be any different with him than the other guys.”
Toney’s strengths are most apparent when he has the ball in his hands, evading tackles and quickly changing directions. That should make it easy to get him going on simple, quick passes like screens or slants — but Reid isn’t going to push it.
“He hasn’t played for a couple weeks here,” Reid reminded reporters. “So getting him back in the swing of things — in the speed of it all — will be important... He’s a nice addition, but I’m not going to rush him into something that he isn’t comfortable with or I’m not comfortable with.”
The offense doesn’t look like it needs the help — but Toney could also help another unit that could use it: special teams. While Toney has recorded just one punt return in his NFL career, he consistently returned both kicks and punts during his days at the University of Florida.
“He was actually very good at it in college,” said Reid of Toney’s return game. “Not as much in the NFL as college, but we know he has that potential. We’ll just see where that goes as we go forward here.”
Punt-return duties could be a simple, quick way to get Toney contributing in a Chiefs uniform. Based on Reid’s points, there is no pressure on Toney to carve out an immediate role in the Kansas City offense.
This may mean that the team sees Toney as more of a long-term solution who projects to make a bigger impact in the next two seasons for which he is under contract — plus an additional year the Chiefs could add by picking up the second-year player’s fifth-year option.