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Kansas City Chiefs pursuing top receiving threat

Andrew Buller-Russ

Since trading Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs have responded by adding Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a receiving corps led by Travis Kelce and 2022 free agent signee JuJu Smith-Schuster. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the organization is done adding to the position this offseason, in fact, they’re still interested landing a top receiver, either via trade or the draft.

Top receiver still headed to Kansas City Chiefs?

According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, general manager Brett Veach and the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs’ front office have kicked the tires on signing a few more free agents, but they have their sights set even higher.

“What the Chiefs, from what I can understand, in terms of replenish, is, they’re calling teams to see if — perhaps teams that we haven’t heard about — are interested in perhaps trading one of their top receivers to Kansas City. To me, that tells me, Kansas City is looking at the entire market. They’re looking at free agency. Who’s still on the street right now? We know Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry is still available. We know they’ve done their work there. But they’re thinking, ‘Perhaps we can do better. We can come close to replacing a player like Tyreek Hill by going after a team that has a top receiver that maybe would be open to some dealings.’ Because we know, that the Chiefs, they’ve got the money. They’ve got the draft picks, and this could be their answer. Of course, if they don’t get their answer there, we have the draft coming up in just a few weeks.”

Dianna Russini on Kansas City Chiefs’ desire to improve WR room

Now that the Chiefs have cleared cap space by trading Hill, they have the potential to replace his salary with another high-performing player who is stuck in a non-competitive situation. Receivers around the league have to dream of catching passes from Patrick Mahomes in an offense schemed by Andy Reid. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if a talented pass-catcher demands a trade to KC to become the top option for Mahomes once Travis Kelce (33) someday loses a step.

There are currently several top wideouts looking to sign their next contract who aren’t exactly paired with top quarterbacks. This combination could just be enough for the Chiefs to capitalize.

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Which ‘top receiver’ could the Kansas City Chiefs still land?

Well, no one knew or expected Tyreek Hill to suddenly be available, you would have been chastised for dreaming of a Madden video game-like scenario that would “never happen”. Basically, just because someone might not appear available now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be, for the right price. Especially with how ludicrous this offseason has already been.

Yet, there may be clues that can be taken. In the Hill situation, he wanted a new contract that paid him as the new top-earning player at his position. At $30 million per year, he got it. Hill was also entering the final year of his deal, meaning good luck trading for a top receiver who isn’t. Needless to say, it’s not like the Chiefs could land CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase, or Justin Jefferson. Instead, they may have to either seek a player already on their second contract, or another one who isn’t quite in the same tier as Hill.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs mock draft: 2022 NFL Draft projections and analysis

Let’s speculate for a brief moment on some of the names who could feasibly be available if the Chiefs are willing to present an offer a GM can’t refuse.

  • Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans: Here’s an intriguing name to watch. Like Hill, Cooks is a burner and has an affinity for making plays downfield. The last two times Cooks reached the playoffs, he lost a Super Bowl with the Patriots and ended with the same result the following year with the Rams. Ever since, he’s missed the playoffs. Cooks could be begging to get out of Houston as they don’t appear to have any interest in competing for a Lombardi any time soon, which is the annual expectation in KC with Mahomes.
  • A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans: Also looking for a contract extension before hitting free agency in 2022, for the Titans to trade their top receiver, negotiations would have to be going very, very bad. A team looking to run it back with basically the same team and compete, trading Brown would likely require massive compensation plus a very large contract going Brown’s way. Pipe dream.
  • Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks: If the organization follows through on its intentions to pay DK Metcalf big bucks this offseason, their other Pro Bowl receiver, Tyler Lockett could very well be on his way out. Now 29 years old, Lockett may not want to wait out whatever it is the Seahawks are planning on doing in 2022. Stick with Drew Lock or go play with Patrick Mahomes? Tough call.

DK Metcalf is the glaring name missing here, but I’m not sure how it makes sense to move from Hill to Metcalf. While it would be thrilling to watch, the latter is likely to sign an extension in the same ballpark as Hill, and even though he may not be satisfied with the current direction of the Seahawks (pure speculation) and their lack of an elite QB, it still doesn’t make sense. Sure, Metcalf is four years younger, a full six inches taller, though not nearly as accomplished as Hill, the end result, trading Hill for Metcalf likely wouldn’t result in more picks or much more cap savings.

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Instead, a move for Brandin Cooks could make a lot of sense for both the veteran looking to land in a competitive situation, and for the Chiefs who can rely on his 1,000-yard production while saving nearly $15 million in cap space. Plus, even though Cooks is always traded for a first, now that he’s 28 years old, Kansas City wouldn’t have to cough up a first-round pick.

The Chiefs might be able to snag Cooks from the Texans for a mid-round selection, replacing Hill’s production for a fraction of the cost. If the Chiefs could pull such a move off, Veach would once again look like a magician. If not, expect the Chiefs to be aggressive in the 2022 NFL Draft as they aim to begin reshaping their receiving corps for their new future without Hill, and eventually, without Kelce as well.

Related: 5 wide receivers the Kansas City Chiefs should go after following Tyreek Hill trade