The Chiefs are 2-0 and enter Week 3 second in points per game. The team, which traded Tyreek Hill and lost other wide receivers in free agency, heads to Indianapolis ranked sixth in passing yards and third in offensive DVOA.
Patrick Mahomes is obviously driving this effort, but the former MVP and Super Bowl MVP is still adjusting to a new-look receiving corps. Kansas City’s fifth-year starter did plenty to assemble this group, beginning shortly after the Hill extension talks took a turn that led to the blockbuster swap with Miami.
Chiefs GM Brett Veach informed Mahomes in mid-March of the increasing likelihood Hill would be dealt, Nate Taylor of The Athletic notes, with the perennial Pro Bowl wideout’s request for a significant raise becoming an untenable proposition for the Chiefs (subscription required). The Raiders’ Davante Adams contract changed Hill’s approach, and the Chiefs added their two free agent receiver targets shortly after the Adams extension (JuJu Smith-Schuster) and the Hill trade (Marquez Valdes-Scantling).
Although it looked for a bit like the Chiefs brought in Smith-Schuster to complement Hill, due to the team’s No. 1 wideout still being on the team when the longtime Steeler signed, Taylor adds Mahomes had begun recruiting Smith-Schuster shortly after learning Hill could be gone. Smith-Schuster had been on Kansas City’s radar for two offseasons. The Chiefs pursued him in 2021, but the former Steelers second-round pick opted to stay in Pittsburgh for one more year. A January report indicated Smith-Schuster was interested in circling back to the Chiefs as well. Mahomes helped move this transaction — a one-year, $3.76MM deal — across the finish line, eyeing the Pittsburgh slot as a player who could excel in myriad capacities in Kansas City.
Valdes-Scantling did not have the Chiefs on his radar to start free agency, according to Taylor, but Mahomes called the ex-Packers deep threat shortly after the Hill deal commenced. MVS visited the Chiefs and signed with them a day later. The Packers had made a late push to retain their former fifth-round pick, but Taylor notes they offered a one-year deal. MVS had expected to land a one-year pact, however, and the Chiefs only guaranteed $8.56MM of the wideout’s three-year, $30MM deal at signing.
Combined, the Chiefs’ top four receivers’ salaries — also factoring in Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore‘s second-round contracts — come in at a fraction of Hill’s league-record $30MM-per-year Dolphins dough. Hill has gotten off to a fast start in Miami and fit better on a Dolphins payroll lacking a franchise-QB salary. Travis Kelce still leads the Chiefs in receiving by a wide margin — something that probably should be expected to be the case at season’s end, barring injury — while Smith-Schuster, MVS and Hardman have combined for 21 receptions through two games. Moore is being brought along slower, having played just 15 offensive snaps in two weeks.