The dust has settled on the virtual parade we gave the Kansas City Chiefs for having the greatest draft of all time. Now, it's time to take a hard look at the roster and see what work still needs to be done.
By my estimation, the Chiefs' three greatest remaining needs are at edge rusher, defensive tackle and wide receiver. Outside of edge rusher, I don't think any of these needs are glaring holes but rather trades the Chiefs could make that would put them over the top to possibly hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
In the NFL, any trade speculation or proposal must be taken with a grain of salt. I've done my best to look at all the possibilities and choose three scenarios that are not beyond the realm of possibility.
A few ground rules before we get started:
1. The trades have to be realistic (you can't trade eight fourth-round picks for Myle Garrett)
2. We are not going to mortgage the future to win now. Although, I really wanted to trade everything the Chiefs have for DK Metcalf.
3. I have considered previous trade rumors and positional depth on both teams when considering these trades.
4. Arrowhead Pride's cap guru John Dixon estimates the Chiefs have about 11 million in cap space. In this scenario, we are assuming the Chiefs get the Orlando Brown Jr. extension completed, lowering his 2022 cap hit from $16.6 million to $12.5 million in 2022, creating an additional $4.1 million in cap space, bringing our hypothetical remaining cap space to $15.1 million.
Any moves we make will need to keep us under that number.
While it's highly unlikely that the Chiefs will make three trades before the start of training camp, I do believe that, in a microcosm, each one of these trades is realistic and could conceivably happen.
1. Chiefs trade for Jacksonville Jaguars edge rusher Dawuane Smoot
Chiefs get: Dawuane Smoot
Jaguars get: Chiefs' 2022 third-round pick
Why it makes sense: The 27-year-old Smoot finds himself in a crowded situation in Jacksonville, fighting for snaps against the likes of Josh Allen, Arden Key and 2022 first overall pick Travon Walker. In 421 pass-rush snaps last season, Smoot tallied seven sacks, 16 quarterback hits and seven tackles for a loss, on his way to logging a 73.9 pass-rush grade on Pro Football Focus.
Smoot possesses a well-developed arsenal of pass rush moves and can play rush from the outside of shift into the three-technique, as seen below.
Dawuane Smoot dusted the center here. He hasn't gotten many reps between the tackles this year but sheesh pic.twitter.com/x9wtQWHBYE— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) November 3, 2021
The Chiefs need a guy to bolster the back end of their pass-rush rotation and someone who can step in if there is an injury and maintain a consistent pass rush on the quarterback.
Smoot comes with a reasonable cap hit in 2022 of just $6.7 million. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, so the Chiefs would have to make a decision on whether they would want to extend him or not. But based on his age and ability, I could see them signing him to an extension as insurance for when Frank Clark departs at the end of the season.
Remaining cap space after signing: $8.3 million
Free-agent option: If the Chiefs decide they don't want to invest draft capital in bringing in another edge rusher, they could kick the tires on one of the guys remaining in free agency. At 6 feet 7 and 275 pounds, Carl Nassib is the ideal size for a Steve Spagnuolo defensive end. He has 11 sacks over the last three years and plays with good power and energy at the point of attack. Still just 29, Nassib could probably be had for less than $2 million at this point in his career.
2. Chiefs trade for Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Armon Watts
Chiefs get: Armon Watts
Vikings get: Chiefs' 2022 fourth-round pick
Why it makes sense: Much like Smoot, Watts finds himself buried on the depth chart behind Dalvin Tomlinson and Harrison Phillips. If there is one thing the Chiefs defense has consistently lacked in the Andy Reid era, it's a pass-rush presence at defensive tackle next to Chris Jones. While Watts is nowhere close to the world-destroying force that Jones is, he offers more than enough juice when getting after the quarterback.
dalvin tomlinson had a hell of a game. doesn't win the pass rush rep but deftly sheds his blocker once he sees the ball out— Luke Braun (@LukeBraunNFL) October 18, 2021
Also Everson's fake spin only outdone by Armon Watts swimming the guy into tomorrow pic.twitter.com/Kri9jsisSh
In 2021, Watts had five sacks with 10 quarterback hits and three tackles for a loss, on his way to earning a PFF pass-rush grade of 70.9.
The former sixth-round pick is still just 25 years old and has steadily gotten better with each year in the league. His cap hit for 2022 is easily digestible at $2.5 million. Watts would also be a free agent at the end of the season as well. Still, given that the Chiefs are set to lose Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders and Taylor Stallworth to free agency at the end of the season, they could decide to extend Watts to help soften the blow of a possible exodus at defensive tackle.
Remaining cap space after signing: $4.7 million
Free-agent option: The Chiefs could bring in a veteran defensive tackle on a cheap one-year deal. The problem is that all of the free-agent defensive tackles who are worth a roster spot are in the twilight of their careers. This is not a bad thing if you are looking for a situational guy like Linval Joeseph. While Joeseph is no longer the elite run-stopper that he used to be, he led all defensive linemen on the Los Angeles Chargers with 57 tackles, while also earning an impressive 83.0 pass-rush grade from PFF.
3. Chiefs trade for San Francisco 49er's wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk
Chiefs get: Brandon Aiyuk
49ers get: Chiefs' 2023 second-round pick and tight end Noah Gray
Why it makes sense: The Chiefs have Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling under contract for the 2023 season. Beyond that, all bets are off. The Chiefs could use another dynamic playmaker on the outside who can stretch the field and create separation — a guy like former first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk. The third-year receiver lined up on the outside 80% of the time in 2021. Trading for Aiyuk would allow Moore to move inside to the slot where the Chiefs could focus on getting the ball to him in space while having Valdes-Scantling and Aiyuk on the outside.
Brandon Aiyuk cooked Trevon Diggs pic.twitter.com/8WjK5YeH1O— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 16, 2022
Last season, Aiyuk ranked 46th in the NFL in route win rate against man coverage at 35.6% and 24th in contested catch rate at 47.6%. I know these numbers don't jump off the page, but when you consider that Marquez Valdes-Scantling's win rate against man coverage was only 21.6% last season, with a 15.4% contested catch rate, you start to see the value that Aiyuk could bring to the offense.
Aiyuk's cap hit in 2022 is only 3.4 million, which is pennies in today's wide receiver market. And since he is a former first-round pick, he also carries the coveted fifth-year option that would give the Chiefs control of him through the 2024 season.
As for what the Chiefs are giving up in the trade — Chiefs tight end Noah Gray possesses the athleticism to succeed in 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan's offense, and considering that 49ers tight end George Kittle has missed a combined 13 games over the last three seasons, San Francisco may feel inclined to secure a backup with some offensive upside for their star.
On the Chiefs' end, I think it makes sense to use Gray as a possible trade piece to sweeten the deal, considering that he may have a hard time seeing the field this season as he competes for playing time with Travis Kelce, Blake Bell and Jody Fortson. If he is buried on the depth chart, then it only makes sense to use him to sweeten the deal.
Remaining cap space after signing: $1.3 million
Free-agent option: Nobody. Will Fuller and Julio Jones are still out there, but at this point in their career, do you really feel that either of those players offers anything better than a player like Josh Gordon does? The Chiefs aren't desperate for wide receiver help this year, but they could use an upgrade, and I just don't think anyone left on the free-agent market offers that at a price that would be palatable. The last thing you want to do is pay a guy like Odell Beckham Jr. $9 million to play six games.
After all these trades, the Chiefs would still have six picks in next year's draft, including their first-round selection.
How did we do? What trades would you have made instead?