The Kansas City Chiefs' wide receiver position is being held down by an All-Pro in Tyreek Hill, and it sounds like a fresh new contract is right around the corner for the 2016 fifth-round draft pick.
Tight end Travis Kelce, another All-Pro, has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for six straight seasons. Having playmakers at the level of Hill and Kelce has alleviated some of the attention the No. 2 wide receiver should have garnered. The role was played so well by Sammy Watkins when he was healthy, but his absence has left the contributions greatly missed for the last couple of seasons.
Demarcus Robinson was selected out of Florida in 2016 in the fourth round, and Mecole Hardman's selection came during the second round of the 2019 draft. Robinson was widely considered a developmental project after three tumultuous seasons with the Gators. Now, after two back-to-back one-year deals, it appears Robinson's tenure with the Chiefs may finally be over.
There had been much to consider in the Chiefs' decision to select Hardman. In fact, the Chiefs traded up to draft the former Georgia Bulldog. This was right around the time the Hill's off-the-field situation was at its peak, and Hill's future with the Chiefs and in the league was in jeopardy. The fact that general manager Brett Veach was faced with having to potentially replace Hill rather than complement him had to have played a role in the decision-making process.
Nevertheless, Robinson is hitting free agency, and while it does appear Andy Reid and his coaching staff seemingly figured out the best way to utilize Hardman toward the end of 2021, it is essential to find other options. Davante Adams and Chris Godwin each received the franchise tag from their respective teams, and Mike Williams signed a new deal with the Chargers — so they are no longer free-agent options. However, there are still options out there.
In this post, we have broken up the upcoming free agent wide receivers into different tiers based on who would be most coveted and most effective with Kansas City:
Tier 1 | JuJu Smith-Schuster
Arguably the most popular name from our list linked to the Chiefs is former Pittsburgh Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster. The wideout had an opportunity to sign during the last year's offseason but chose a one-year deal to remain in the Steel City. An injury cut his season to only five games in 2021, but looking ahead, he has another chance to play with Patrick Mahomes, Hill and Kelce. Coming off a one-year, $8 million deal, Smith-Schuster is likely looking for a multi-year contract that will give him security and a chance to chase a ring.
Tier 2 | Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson will be 29 years old in August, and the wide receiver's list of starting quarterbacks he has played with are Blake Bortles, Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and a rookie Justin Fields. Far from a Hall of Fame ballot of talent, Robinson still has been one of the better receivers around the league since entering in 2014. The fact that Matt Nagy returned to Kansas City's coaching staff doesn't bode well for Robinson's desire to be a Chief. Nagy was Robinson's head coach in Chicago, and the two have a rocky relationship. Still, the NFL is a business, so perhaps the football side of things can outweigh egos, but we wouldn't bet on it.
Tier 3 | Will Fuller
Bringing in a Will Fuller could be a viable option that doesn't force Veach to break the bank. Fuller had a productive career in Houston before signing a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins before the start of the 2021 season. He broke his thumb early in the year and wasn't able to see the field much at all. The season before that, in 2020, he was suspended for the latter part due to the use of performing-enhancing drugs. After all of that, he is eager to bounce back and prove he can still offer value to a team. Kansas City would be a great situation for him to prove it.
Tier 4 | Cedrick Wilson
Cedrick Wilson experienced a breakout year in 2021, as he set career marks in all major receiving categories. He caught six touchdowns and totaled over 600 receiving yards in a Dallas offense with wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Wilson has only been in the NFL for three seasons as a sixth-round draftee, but he has flashed moments of big-time playability. There is always the chance he re-signs with the Cowboys, especially with reports of Cooper being a likely cap casualty. If he is available to sign elsewhere, it makes sense for the Chiefs to explore bringing him aboard.
Tier 5 | Russell Gage
A genuinely underrated free agent option is Russell Gage, who has played four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after they drafted him in 2018 during the sixth round. Gage played behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley but had to take a much more significant role after Jones went to the Titans and Calvin Ridley took time off from football. He was second on the team with 770 receiving yards and hauled in four touchdowns. He can win one-on-one matchups with speed and separation.
The bottom line
Kansas City needs to find reinforcements for the wide receiver group.
Hill is the marquee man, and the hope for the Chiefs is Hardman continues his current trajectory. Still, there are plenty of talented guys out there, and you can check the full list of free-agent wide receivers here.
Any of the five listed above would improve the Chiefs' offense in 2022.