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Chiefs chose future flexibility over Tyreek Hill

The prevailing thought about this year’s offseason in Kansas City continues to become clearer.

NFL: Miami Dolphins OTA Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach joined a number of national media outlets over the past week (we covered some of his conversation with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio here). Perhaps lost in the cracks was Veach’s conversation with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen as part of “The Rich Eisen Show.”

As it turned out, it was a telling one. The sixth-year GM continued to say that the organization had two goals entering the offseason: help the defense and find a way to keep wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

The Chiefs achieved one of those goals, and the other — well, things changed as the offseason went along. We have addressed that on these pages before, but Veach provided further details during his call with Eisen.

“We had Orlando (Brown) on the (franchise) tag, and we wanted to take care of Tyreek and then kind of address the defense,” started Veach. “Then, the way the market shifted with the receivers and the way the market shifted with the veteran defensive linemen, we kind of altered our course of action and decide to go through the draft almost entirely.”

Seven of 10 members of the Chiefs’ 2022 draft class play defense.

“Again, I think we’re happy with the way it turned out — but there’s going to be a lot of young guys you see on the defensive side, but I think we’re very hopeful that these guys are going to be who we think they are.”

On the books, the Brown tag cost the Chiefs roughly $16.6 million. Edge rushers like Chandler Jones, Von Miller and Randy Gregory priced themselves out of Kansas City, agreeing to lucrative deals with other teams.

As Veach suggested, the No. 1 receiver market reached heights it never had before, making things more complicated when it came to retaining Hill.

“When teams go to the Combine, they certainly go to evaluate the college prospects, but they also are there to discuss contracts with their players and the agents that are there,” he said. “We had a chance to talk to [Hill’s agent] Drew Rosenhaus at the Combine on multiple occasions, and I think we laid an initial framework for a contract, and we felt things were kind of trending in the right direction. All big contracts take a few weeks and some take a few months.

“But we left there and we felt like we were in a pretty good place. And then, as you know, the wide receiver market exploded and went in a crazy different direction. So we were looking at a situation where, if we wanted to acquire, let’s say, a veteran defensive end — and where that market went — we would do so, but then it would be very difficult to do Tyreek. And how could we sign a veteran defensive end to a contract like that and not address the Tyreek situation? That would have been a problem, and it wouldn’t have been something that we would have done given our relationship with Tyreek and all that he has done for the organization over the years.

“On the flip side, when the market went to where it went, if we did that, in addition to carrying an Orlando Brown tag, in addition to the contracts that we have, then there would be no way to address the defense — to do anything on the defensive side. So it was either an all-or-nothing scenario.

“We just took a step back, and this is the great thing about how we operate here. We certainly go through all the scenarios, and one of the scenarios was that if we couldn’t get something done, this [trade] possibility. And so it made sense that, if you really wanted to add some weapons and to invest in multiple players and multiple positions, that this may be the best scenario for us... after taking a step back and talking things through with Andy (Reid) and with Clark (Hunt), it just made sense for us to entertain this trade.”

Veach explained that the package the Miami Dolphins were willing to send the Chiefs (which wound up being five draft picks over the next two years) would allow them — in 2022 — to take as many defensive players as they did, all the while opening up the salary cap for years to come. The general manager added that he expects the Chiefs to be more prominent players in next offseason’s free agency period.

Veach specifically mentioned the Jacksonville Jaguars’ contract for wide receiver Christian Kirk and the Las Vegas Raiders’ contract for wide receiver Davante Adams as the pivot point of the offseason.

“I felt like if we do [a contract for Tyreek Hill] here, we might be out of free agency the next two to three years,” explained Veach. “This game — gosh, it’s so hard to be good year in and year out. More than anything, you have to have a roster that can handle the physicality of this game and the injuries. Year in and year out, teams are just holding on to get to the bye week so they can take a breath. It’s hard, and so, like I said, when we thought about this opportunity long and hard and [considered] not just the pick but the cap space over the next few years, it made a lot of sense to us.

“I think it worked out for both parties. I know that’s kind of a cliché there, and it sounds good. Everybody says it, but I really do. I think Miami has a chance to some things with Tyreek, and he lives there, and his family’s there. It was important for him to be there, and that was a place where he wanted to be, so he deserved that. And he has certainly helped us reach heights that many thought were impossible over the years. So I think he was deserving of that contract, and I was happy for him.”

And on the other side, Veach remains optimistic about the future in Kansas City.

“I was happy we were able to get resources to help continue to build this thing for the next five, 10 years. And I think that we’ve taken the right step, and that won’t be easy, and we’re going to have a lot of young guys play football for us this fall. There’s going to be a transition period, but after the draft ended and from the time [the young players] have been here through the rookie minicamp, we’ve been certainly impressed with them and their attitude, so we’re excited about getting this thing rolling.”

As details on the Chiefs’ offseason thought process continue to trickle out, the prevailing notion is this: trading Hill was much less a decision than it was a solution.

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