During free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs have already added some key pieces to help the team contend for another Super Bowl title. But there are still some positions where the team could use some help.
One of those is wide receiver. Following Kansas City's championship, many thought that JuJu Smith-Schuster would return to the team on a multi-year contract. Instead, Smith-Schuster signed that deal with the New England Patriots.
Compensation update: Patriots and JuJu Smith-Schuster reached agreement on a three-year, $33 million deal with $22.5 million earned over the first two years of the deal, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2023
With Smith-Schuster gone — and the team's longest-tenured wideout Mecole Hardman testing free agency — it looks like Kansas City has a gaping hole at the position.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney are the only remaining wideouts who had significant 2022 snaps — and those three combined for 1,108 yards and four touchdowns last season. That's not even half of the yards (or touchdowns) the team's wide receivers contributed.
Unfortunately, free agency's wide receiver talent has been a little thin — and most notable players have already been signed to new teams. Hardman, D.J. Chark and Odell Beckham Jr. are the top names remaining. At least for now, Kansas City doesn't seem interested in bringing Hardman back. There hasn't been much buzz about Chark coming to the Chiefs, either. There has, however, been plenty of news that the team may have some interest in Beckham; it was among the teams represented at his recent private workout.
During his short stint with the Los Angeles Rams 2021, Beckham proved that he could still be a good player — but in Super Bowl LVI, he suffered an ACL injury that kept him out of the 2022 season.
Kansas City has also been linked to Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, whom Arizona is shopping for a trade. While the 30-year-old is arguably coming off his worst season, that can be tied to inconsistent quarterback play — and Hopkins missing four games from a suspension. He could very well have three or four more years of great play — but it's always a risk to trade for an aging player who is getting big money. The assets needed for the trade are also a consideration.
The asking price for #Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins is a "2nd round pick plus something else of value", according to @AlbertBreer— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) March 18, 2023
Worth noting he's due $19.45 million in cash. pic.twitter.com/WMsNjUvCDo
So there is a case that can be made for the Chiefs to go after either Beckham or Hopkins. While both are top-tier players with upside that can make Kansas City better, both come with some high risk, too.
But as long as tight end Travis Kelce continues to perform at a high level, it's also possible to argue that the Chiefs don't need a big-name wideout — or even a clear-cut No. 1. While Kelce will turn 34 in October, he hasn't shown signs of slowing down. Father Time will eventually catch up with him, but it's not unreasonable to think he has at least two or three great years left. Until then, the team can go with another complementary receiver like Smith-Schuster — someone who can deliver when needed, but will not demand double-digit targets in each game.
Besides... it is possible that the team's No. 1 receiver is already on the roster. General manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid have expressed high praise for Toney — and even before Smith-Schuster's exit, it was reported that they expected Toney to make that leap.
The thought in KC right now is Patrick Mahomes is expected to be throwing the same core group of guys he ended the season with.— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) March 7, 2023
- Toney (who the #chiefs believe will be WR1 in 2023)
- The plan is to bring Ju Ju back
- Skyy Moore
The biggest question mark for Toney is his ability to remain healthy. But when he's been on the field, he's certainly demonstrated the ability to be a dominant player.
Finally, there is April's NFL Draft. While the Chiefs still have needs at tackle and defensive end, they could easily find a great receiver on Day 1 or Day 2.
The bottom line
While Kansas City could benefit from a big-name receiver like Hopkins or Beckham, the team has shown it doesn't need to do that to be successful. Adding a top name could lead the team back to force-feeding two targets — instead of the more balanced approach that made the Chiefs' offense the top offense in both points and yards in 2022.
Veach has shown that he will do what it takes to keep weapons around his star quarterback — but he has also shown he will not mortgage the future. If he acquires a big-name receiver, it will have to make financial sense — and not require too much draft capital.
If we learned anything in 2022, it's this: whatever choice the Chiefs make, we can trust that the offense will be firing on all cylinders.