Here we are less than a month away from the start of Kansas City Chiefs training camp and yet, there is still some uncertainty about this roster. At least, more than there usually is at this time of year.
Will general manager Brett Veach add another edge rusher? How will the new pieces blend together on the defensive side? Which wide receivers will emerge as the starters and backups that make the top 53?
That last question has been an intriguing talking point of spring. The Chiefs may have more depth at wide receiver than they’ve had in a long time, but they lack a bonified superstar after trading away Tyreek Hill.
Financially speaking, that could end up being the correct decision but what if you could add a dynamic playmaker that has an affordable cap number in 2022? Would you upgrade this WR room once last time before Week 1?
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Chiefs Land Aiyuk, Package Includes 2023 Second-Round Pick
- Chiefs receive WR Brandon Aiyuk.
- 49ers receive 2023 second-round plus TE Noah Gray.
The Chiefs have Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling under contract for the 2023 season. Beyond that, all bets are off. The Chiefs could use another dynamic playmaker on the outside who can stretch the field and create separation — a guy like former first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk. The third-year receiver lined up on the outside 80% of the time in 2021. Trading for Aiyuk would allow Moore to move inside to the slot where the Chiefs could focus on getting the ball to him in space while having Valdes-Scantling and Aiyuk on the outside.
The parameters of this article were that all proposed trades must “be realistic,” consider the future (not just the 2022 campaign), make sense for each franchise, and fit within the Chiefs’ projected cap number of $15.1 million following an Orlando Brown Jr. extension.
Having said that, Magana continued on, explaining the financial considerations of this deal.
“Aiyuk’s cap hit in 2022 is only 3.4 million,” he wrote, “which is pennies in today’s wide receiver market. And since he is a former first-round pick, he also carries the coveted fifth-year option that would give the Chiefs control of him through the 2024 season. As for what the Chiefs are giving up in the trade — Chiefs tight end Noah Gray possesses the athleticism to succeed in 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and considering that 49ers tight end George Kittle has missed a combined 13 games over the last three seasons, San Francisco may feel inclined to secure a backup with some offensive upside for their star.”
The Chiefs would have $1.3 million remaining in cap space after this deal.
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Does It Make Sense?
The Chiefs currently have a very healthy competition at wide receiver so there’s a legitimate chance that Veach feels confident in the group he’s assembled. Having said that, additional star power never hurt anyone, and Aiyuk has the potential to outperform every wideout on this KC roster with Patrick Mahomes II throwing the football.
A former No. 25 overall selection out of Arizona State, Aiyuk accumulated 1,574 receiving yards and 1,668 scrimmage yards over his initial two NFL campaigns in a run-first system. Those totals were reached despite the fact that Coach Shanahan inexplicably limited the playmaker’s snaps early on in year two — following a shortened 12-game campaign in year one.
In other words, Aiyuk is the type of high-ceiling pass-catcher that head coach Andy Reid could unlock in Kansas City.
On the flip side, the 49ers were critical of Aiyuk in 2021 — although he appears to have turned a corner with the coaching staff since then. Considering a Deebo Samuel extension could be on the horizon, San Francisco may look to cut bait on the 2020 first-round pick while his value is still at a premium.
A second-round pick is nothing to sneeze at and the Chiefs could theoretically sweeten the deal with a low-round selection if the 49ers were interested. Then there’s Gray. The 2021 fifth-round tight end is buried on a depth chart that includes Travis Kelce, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell, and OTA head-turner Jordan Franks.
Veach could certainly make this trade bargaining from a position of strength, and he could even send a wide receiver substitute like Mecole Hardman instead of Gray if the situation called for a larger return.
The one hang-up is the remaining cap number. If you trade for Aiyuk, do you sacrifice one final acquisition at the defensive end position? To me, an extra pass rusher might still take priority, even if a tantalizing weapon like Aiyuk is dangling on the block.