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Should the Chiefs have traded Tyreek Hill?

Let’s debate whether it was the right move or not.

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AFC Divisional Playoffs - Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tyreek Hill is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs traded six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami for a package of draft picks that include Miami's first and second-round picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

The decision to trade a player of Hill's caliber is never easy. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Chiefs presented Hill with a contract extension that would have made him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL.

A move like this is sure to evoke a lot of emotions — and to help us sort through our feelings, let's embrace a little debate.

First, I will argue the affirmative of why trading Tyreek Hill was the correct move to make. Then I'll flip the coin and argue why he should still be a Chief.

In the end, you can all decide in the comments how you feel about this. OK, let's get down to business.


Affirmative: Trading Tyreek Hill was the correct decision for this team.

This was Tyreek Hill's decision. By all accounts, the Chiefs wanted to retain him, but Hill gave them 120 million reasons not to extend him.

This is not a knock on Hill. He wanted to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL. He had every right to advocate for what he believed his value was.

Tyreek Hill is 28 years old. This is most likely the last big contract of his career. By the end of this contract, he will 32. If he was going to cash in, now was the time.

The Chiefs were never going to match this asking price. Given Kansas City's salary cap situation and the holes they have yet to fill on their roster, it would have been financially irresponsible for general manager Brett Veach to give Hill that kind of money for that many years.

The timeline on a deal was accelerated by the fact that Hill informed the Chiefs that he would not play in 2022 without a contract extension; this put the Chiefs in a very tough spot. They had no choice but to get as much for him as possible while his value was still at its peak.

It would have been worse if Hill had become publicly disgruntled and sat out all of 2022. This is as clean of a breakup as you can have with a player. There is no reason to draw out a messy divorce when both sides already know the relationship is over. The last thing you want to do is pay premium money to a player who is past his prime.

I think Hill will still be an excellent player at age 32. But we aren't talking about good player money, we are talking about paying a player like he is the best, and I don't think he will be in that conversation by the end of this contract.

It's better to move on from a player a year early than a year late.

Beyond the money, there were other indicators last year that pointed to the fact that it might be time to move on.

Hill is the best deep threat to ever play the game. He is an elite route runner who creates an insane amount of separation. He is also 5 feet 10, 185 pounds — and whose success is largely speed-dependent. There are legitimate questions about how his body will hold up as he ages. Undersized players tend to break down quickly as they get older.

Take former Chief Dante Hall, for instance. Hall was one of the premier kick returners in the NFL through his age-28 season, and then injuries started to take their toll. Hall was retired by age 30.

Another example would be Jamaal Charles. Between ages 22 and 28, Charles ran for over 1,000 yards six times. But he failed to top 400 yards in a season from age 29 onward.

In both cases, injuries caught up to the player. Anyone reading this who is over 30 understands that once your body hits the three-decade mark, the response rate to healing slows down, and everything just hurts a little bit more.

What makes Hill unique is his ability to take the top off of the defense and get behind the safeties. In 2021, the Chiefs saw many opposing teams playing Cover 2 shell defense. In this defense, the safety's main priority is to keep Tyreek Hill in front of him. The weakness to this zone defense is underneath routes across the middle, where soft spots can be found and exploited.

The result of this was that Hill found himself running more underneath routes in 2021. Despite having more targets (159) than any year prior, his yards (1,239), touchdowns (9), and yards per target (7.8) all declined versus his numbers in 2020.

To summarize, opposing defenses took away what made Tyreek Hill special and turned him into a good short-to-mid-range receiver. Despite his speed, route running, and quick-twitch ability, when it comes to actually catching the ball, Hill is only above average. He tends to allow too many balls into his chest and has a small catch radius due to his size and limited arm length. Hill had more drops (10) last season than any year previously. Out of 44 eligible wide receivers who had 800 receiving yards or more in 2021, Hill was 14th in catch percentage at 69.8%.

When you combine all of this with the massive haul of draft picks that the Chiefs received, I think you can't help but agree that this was a valid decision.


Negative: You just traded away the most dangerous receiver in the NFL

So what if Tyreek Hill wanted to be the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL?

By the time D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and Deebo Samuel ink their new deals in 2023, the Hill contract will look like a bargain, especially when you consider that the Dolphins have an out after the 2025 season.

Hill is never going to see the bulk of that last $50 million in his contract. This is, in actuality, a four-year, $95.4 million contract.

Pay the man. He is the greatest receiver in Chiefs history.

Since coming into the league in 2016, Hill has amassed 6,630 yards receiving and 56 touchdowns, and he averaged 13.8 yards per reception. There are a lot of talented wide receivers in the NFL. There is only one Hill.

Sure, there are players who are fast. There are players who are agile. There are players who are elite route runners.

But only Hill is all three.

It's not like the Chiefs' wide receiver room is packed to the gills with superstars. Hill was a leader in the receiver room. Few players in the NFL have the postseason experience that he does. Those things matter.

With Hill on the roster, the Chiefs had a legitimate shot at returning to the Super Bowl. This feels like they could be blowing this thing up a year too soon.

Since his first snap as starting quarterback in 2018, Patrick Mahomes had had Hill as his No. 1 wide receiver. In a year in which your division is more competitive than ever, you are leaving the best quarterback in the NFL with Meole Hardman as his most tenured wide receiver. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a very good player, but he is coming off of an injury and only here on a one-year contract.

A lot has been made of Hill's age and him losing a step as he gets older — But Hill, even one step slower, is still faster than 98% of the players in the NFL.

The closest historical comp we have to Hill is former Dolphins wide receiver Irving Fryar, who had his best seasons between ages 31 and 35.

There is no other Hill. You had the only one. When something is one of a kind, you pay to keep it around. The NFL is a business, and this was a business decision — and perhaps a bad one.

Do you know what is good for business?

Legacies.

By trading Hill, the Chiefs are waiving the white flag on 2022 and could be wasting one of Mahomes' prime years at quarterback.


The bottom line

This is a move that will be felt in Chiefs Kingdom for a long time. It feels like a fork in the road that we will point to and say that was when things changed. Will it be for the better or, the worse? Only time will tell.

What do you think? Did the Chiefs make the right decision in moving on from Hill? Did they get enough for him in return? Are you for or against the trade?

Poll

Did the Chiefs make the best decision by trading Hill?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Yes
    (3841 votes)
  • 18%
    No
    (873 votes)
4714 votes total Vote Now

Discuss in the comments below.

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