The Kansas City Chiefs have had decent production among the receivers not named Tyreek Hill on their roster this season.
Third-year wideout Byron Pringle has been the biggest recipient of Sammy Watkins departing this past offseason; he has career-highs in catches (37), yards (512), and touchdowns (5) this season. 2019 second-round draft pick Mecole Hardman has also seen career-highs in catches (51) and yards (590).
However, that doesn’t mean the defending AFC champions couldn’t use an upgrade at the position.
While the November 2 NFL trade deadline is long gone, it doesn’t hurt to think about how certain trades would shake up the postseason, especially for the No. 2 seeded Chiefs.
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Dream Pre-Postseason Trade: Cooks to Chiefs
Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report examined one trade each NFL playoff team wishes it could make before the postseason and has Kansas City trading for 3-time 1,000-yard receiver Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans.
“The Kansas City Chiefs have been searching for a potent No. 3 receiver to partner with Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and tight end Travis Kelce. This is why they took a flier on Josh Gordon in 2021, though the experiment hasn’t yielded much in the way of production. Entering Week 17, Gordon had only five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown,” Knox wrote.
“Cooks is under contract through 2022 and probably wouldn’t come at a bargain-basement price. If Kansas City could snap him up for, say, a second-round pick, it could forge a receiving corps that opponents couldn’t hope to contain.”
Cooks’ Contract Hefty for 2022 Chiefs
There’s no doubt that adding Cooks to a lineup with Hill, tight end Travis Kelce, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a much-improved offensive line would be beneficial to Kansas City. However, they might not have the financial room to make that work after the 2021-22 season.
If the Chiefs were to trade for Cooks, they would have to retain him until 2023. Cooks’ current contract pays him a base salary of $12.5 million in 2022 with a cap hit of $16.2 million, per Spotrac.
Kansas City only has a projected $29.2 million in available cap space next offseason. With players like safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes, defensive tackle Jarran Reed and running back Darrel Williams hitting the free-agent market in 2022, the Chiefs may want to use some of that limited cap space on those players. So if they decided to re-sign several of those guys, who all play important roles for the defending AFC champions, then they may not have the financial flexibility to have Cooks on the roster.
However, it’s not impossible.
When looking at the fact that the Chiefs would be trading for a player with one year left on his contract, general manager Brett Veach may be able to persuade Cooks, 28, into signing an extension. Doing that could lower his cap number for 2022 and leave more room for Kansas City to re-sign several of their key pending free agents along with other members of the NFL’s free-agent pool.
The asking price of a second-round pick is a lot. But given how consistently productive Cooks has been during his eight-year career should be enough for Veach and company to agree to that type of draft capital for the veteran wideout.
This trade obviously isn’t going to happen, which is why it’s referred to as a “dream trade” by us. But it can’t hurt to daydream a bit, right?