The need for an established No. 2 wide receiver in this Kansas City Chiefs offense has been a hot topic of conversation since Sammy Watkins left in free agency at the end of the 2020 season.
Watkins played the prototypical "X" wide receiver role to near perfection during the Chiefs 2019 Super Bowl run, earning him the nickname "Playoff Sammy." However, Watkins was injured for much of his time in Kansas City and left via free agency at the end of the 2020 season.
Over the last 12 months, the Chiefs have taken different approaches in an attempt to find a legitimate No. 2 "X" receiver and a third offensive weapon (to replace the production a healthy Sammy Watkins was supposed to produce).
The NFL Draft: The Chiefs selected Cornell Powell with the 181st pick in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He is currently on the Chiefs' practice squad.
Free agency: Head coach Andy Reid sent then-free agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster by texting him pictures of the Lombardi Trophy in an attempt to get him to sign with Kansas City.
In-house options: The Chiefs tested out Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson in this role, finding limited success in doing so.
Reclamation project: Kansas City tried to solve its problem by signing former All-Pro receiver Josh Gordon. However, things have not worked out quite as we hoped for Gordon thus far in his tenure with the Chiefs. He, too, is also currently on the practice squad.
When wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was released by the Cleveland Browns back in November, the Chiefs were naturally linked as a possible landing spot for the ninth-year wide receiver.
“You guys know Brett,” chuckled Reid. ”Brett’s always going to keep his eyes and ears open. That’s how he does.”
Brett Veach himself echoed this sentiment during his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
"I think our priority is always any sort of advantage that we can get, we'll pursue," said Veach.
Veach went on to say that positional depth does not preclude the Chiefs from going after a player if he thinks it will make the team better. To highlight this, he compared the Rams wide receiver situation now against where it was when they signed Beckham Jr.
"It's no different than the Rams," began Veach. "I mean, they had a bunch of wideouts, and they had a chance to get Odell."
In Veach's mind, you can never have too many good players at a position because you never know if a player will get injured and leave you thin at that spot.
"Obviously, Odell has done a great job for the Rams, and it just worked for them that as soon as they signed him, they had a receiver get hurt, so now it looks like an even better move."
Beckham caught 27 passes for 307 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games as a Ram. He has 19 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown entering the Super Bowl.
Veach knows that the best way for the Chiefs to win football games is to surround Patrick Mahomes with those types of playmakers.
"We could've potentially still had Sammy Watkins on the roster, and that would have been something, but I think you guys know how we're wired," said Veach. "If it makes sense to us and it doesn't put us in any long-term binds in regard to future caps and structure, but if there's any way we can get better and there's any way we can get Pat Mahomes more weapons, we'll do that."
At the end of his comments, the Chiefs general manager said that even if the team had landed some of the receivers they targeted last offseason, he and his team would still be looking to acquire talent and make this roster better.
"I don't think we'll ever shy away from trying to get 1% advantage and that's kind of how we approach things," said Veach. "If it makes sense for us, even if it's just a little better, we'll pursue it, and that was the case there. Maybe it would've made a bigger difference than just that one percent given different roster constructions on different teams, but we'll always pursue talent, and if it makes sense, we'll be aggressive in that fashion."
Potential receiver targets
A complete list of pending 2022 free agent wide receivers can be found here.
The list includes Beckham, Smith-Schuster and Watkins — amongst other big names like Davante Adams, Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson.