If the 2022 NFL season began today, the Kansas City Chiefs would head into it with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman as their top three wide receivers. It’s not exactly a receiving corps that inspires confidence. The trio has one combined 1,000-yard season over 12 years of collective service and lacks a true No. 1 in wake of the Tyreek Hill trade. Tyreek Hill vacuums in kansas city Chiefs will not in small measure have an advert effect when the season commence.
The Chiefs couldn’t find a way to retain the superstar receiver while also keeping their salary-cap situation tenable. The club freed up $20 million in cap space and acquired five draft picks from the Miami Dolphins in the deal, assets that it could use to acquire Hill’s replacement. Head coach Andy Reid recently admitted that while Kansas City wanted to keep Hill, it also needed money to “replenish” a roster that is built around quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The MVS signing was a part of the replenishment process, but the Chiefs don’t appear to be done adding wideouts just yet.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini appeared on Get Up Tuesday morning and revealed that Kansas City brass has been making calls to other teams regarding the availability of their top receivers. While no elite wideouts are being openly shopped right now, there are some stars stuck in situations that Kansas City could attempt to capitalize on.
The Seahawks would make an ideal trade partner after dealing away star quarterback Russell Wilson. With no competent signal-caller waiting in the wings, the club appears to be entering what could be an extended rebuilding period until the QB position is sorted out.
Because of this, DK Metcalf may be available for the right price. The rising star took a slight step back last year but still has a sky-high ceiling and the ability to put up incredible numbers in Kansas City’s dynamic offense.
Metcalf is only 24 years old and gearing up for his fourth professional season. He’s already racked up an impressive 29 career touchdowns while catching 216 passes for 3,170 yards since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2019.
He’d be a perfect long-term replacement for Hill, although Metcalf’s price tag could get exorbitantly expensive when it comes to hammering out an extension he recently became eligible for.
The Chiefs would likely have to give up a good chunk of the draft capital they acquired in the Hill trade—they received first-, second- and fourth-round selections this year and a pair of Day 3 picks in 2023—but would return a player owed less than $4 million for the upcoming campaign, the final year of his rookie contract.
If a Metcalf deal doesn’t come to fruition, there are other veterans that Kansas City could target. Michael Thomas has rarely been seen since the 2020 campaign, but the New Orleans Saints wideout could still have plenty left in the tank at age 29.
Thomas was one of the most consistent performers at the position between 2016 and 2019, earning three Pro Bowl trips and a pair of first-team All-Pro nods in that span. Things went off the rails in 2020 when he spent a good portion of the campaign inactive with an ankle injury, but he re-emerged in the playoffs to catch a touchdown pass.
Thomas spent all of 2021 sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery and suffering a setback during his recovery. The Saints ended speculation of a release when they restructured his deal in February but could still opt to trade the former Ohio State star for the right price. The Chiefs would likely want assurances that Thomas’ ankle is healed and that he is ready to contribute again. If they feel comfortable after looking into things, this move could help both sides get a fresh start.
Brandin Cooks may also be an option for the Chiefs. Cooks has been a popular trade target during his career, having now played for four different organizations since being selected No. 20 overall in 2014.
The 29-year-old spent the last two seasons plying his trade for the downtrodden Houston Texans, serving as their only consistent receiver in that span. Cooks proved he can still be an impact contributor by putting up back-to-back 1,000-plus-yard campaigns. Cooks’ 2021 season was arguably one of his most impressive. The eight-year veteran amassed 1,037 yards and six scores on a career-high 90 catches despite playing in the league’s worst offense.
Given those types of numbers came with Davis Mills serving as his starting QB for most of the year, Cooks would be far more productive while running routes for Mahomes. Kansas City could forgo taking on another veteran altogether, starting a new chapter without having to absorb a large salary. The best way to accomplish this would be to trade up in the draft with the intent to secure one of the blue-chip wide receivers.
This is a great year to target a wideout, as the Bleacher Report Scouting Department had seven coming off the board in the first round of its latest mock. That would mark the most receivers taken on Day 1 in the past decade and tie the all-time record set in 2004.
The Chiefs could wait for one of the fringe first-rounders to fall to them at No. 29—Clemson’s Justyn Ross (scouting report) or Penn State’s Jahan Dotson (scouting report) come to mind—but this team shouldn’t settle for a lesser prospect after coming so close to another Super Bowl last year.
After making four consecutive AFC Championship Games but only winning one Lombardi Trophy, Kansas City should be doing everything to keep its title window open. Trading up to land one of the top WR prospects would an ideal way to give the offense a jolt this offseason.
If the Chiefs can swing a deal that gets them near the top of the first round, they will have an opportunity to land a top-tier wideout like USC’s Drake London (scouting report).
London is the No. 3 overall prospect on the B/R Scouting Department’s big board due to his ridiculous combination of size (6’4″, 219 lbs), catching ability, route-running skills and blocking ability. He’ll create mismatches against cornerbacks and would become an ever-present threat to rip off a home run play in Kansas City’s offense.
he 20-year-old is coming off the board at No. 13 overall in B/R’s latest mock, but the Chiefs may not want to risk waiting that long to secure him. If Kansas City can work out a deal with the New York Jets (No. 10 overall) or even the New York Giants (No. 7 overall)—both of which have another selection inside the top 10 this year and need plenty of help with their respective rebuilds—it would give them a better chance of scooping London up before another team can claim him.
Should the Chiefs strike out on London, premium receiver prospects Chris Olave (scouting report) and Jameson Williams (scouting report) would also be worth trading up for in the first half of the first round. Regardless of how Kansas City goes about this, it desperately needs to add another elite piece to its receiving corps before the 2022 campaign gets underway.