This is the first in a series of 2023 pre-draft explorations, looking across the NFL to see what offseason moves worked - and which didn’t - in an attempt get a better handle on effective roster building.
During the 2022 offseason, Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs were faced with some tough decisions. Having signed Patrick Mahomes to a massive ($45M AAV), 10-year extension in 2020, the team saw that the bills would be coming due very soon. Mahomes’ cap hit in 2022 was $36M, and would increase to $47M in 2023, and hover in that range until around 2031.
Tough decisions would need to be made, and the Chiefs’ front office was prepared to make them. Three-time All-Pro receiver, Tyreek Hill, was under contract through 2022, but with the WR market exploding, he was looking for a larger contract, and that was clearly something the Chiefs were in no position to accommodate.
So, Reid decided to test the market on Hill, and the market was booming. The Dolphins’ new head coach, Mike McDaniel, was looking for weapons for his young QB, and Miami was happy to trade five draft picks for Hill, before signing him to an enormous ($30M AAV) extension. In total, the Dolphins gave up a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29 overall), 2022 second-round pick (No. 50 overall), 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick, and a 2023 sixth-round pick.
Looking Back on the Trade
In 2022, the Dolphins got exactly what they were looking for out of Tyreek Hill. He had a career year, and another All-Pro season, collecting 119 receptions, over 1,700 yards, and 7 receiving TDs. He also started every game in a season for only the second time in his career, and his cap number for Miami was a measly $6.5M in 2022 (bumping to $31M next year).
The Chiefs lost one of the best wide receivers in the game - a casualty of judicious salary cap management. How did they fare in the trade?
Kansas City packaged two picks from the Hill trade (#29 and #121) along with their third rounder (#94) and sent them to the Patriots for pick #21, which they used to select cornerback Trent McDuffie from Washington.
Kansas City then made another trade with the Patriots, sending #50 to New England for picks #54 and #158 (a 5th rounder). The second round pick turned into wide receiver Skyy Moore from Western Michigan. The 5th round pick was packaged with #233 and sent to Seattle for pick #145. The Chiefs used #145 on offensive tackle Darian Kinnard out of Kentucky.
So, the Chiefs added three players from the trade in the 2022 draft, and they have two more picks to spend in the coming draft. How did those three players perform this year?
Trent McDuffie (CB)
McDuffie started eleven games for the Chiefs at cornerback this season, defending 7 passes, contributing to 44 tackles, and adding a sack.
Some Trent McDuffie #content:— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) January 5, 2023
Minimum 558 snaps…
- 4th in Y/REC at 9.1
- 6th in Comp% at 52.6%
- 13th in PFF DEF grade at 74.5
- 12th in PFF COV grade at 77.1
Kid is a damn stud. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him and Sneed together in the defensive backfield.
It’s still very early in the young man’s career, but he looks like he could end up a top end, starting cornerback. As a point of reference, high-end vet CBs average over $16M per year, and McDuffie will average around $3.5M per year on his 4-year rookie deal.
Skyy Moore (WR)
In his rookie season, Moore posted the 4th best performance of any non-first round WR in the 2022 draft, but that wasn’t even in the galaxy of getting anyone to forget about Tyreek Hill. He had 22 receptions for 250 yards, playing in 16 games, but only starting in three. He also added 24 yards on the ground.
In Moore’s draft profiles, it was recognized that he would likely take a bit of maturation in the pros - particularly in terms of developing his route running ability - before he would come into his own:
Overall, Moore should be a reliable auxiliary option to start his career, with his ability to operate inside and outside making him very useful. He is not the most overwhelming athlete, but he truly makes the most of each target. He is a good route runner with reliable hands and enough athletic ability to win versus man coverage and pressed cornerbacks. He has the upside of being a good No. 2-type option who can move around the formation and be a chain mover on short and intermediate routes.
Darian Kinnard (OT)
The Chiefs had one of the best offensive lines in the league this season - #4, according to PFF - so they didn’t need to count on a 5th round rookie tackle for much assistance. And, Kinard played very little as a result - only a few special teams snaps in one game this year.
That said, Kinnard was pegged by some analysts as a third round talent before the 2022 draft, and could possess significant upside - likely as a guard - if the Chiefs can be patient with him.
Kinnard is capable of generating instant torque and movement on contact to displace defenders when he connects, and he has a mean streak to finish at a high level. However, his pad level and hand placement are extremely up and down, leaving him high, off-balance and struggling to control blocks consistently.
Overall, Kinnard’s size, flashes of jarring power and quickness are an intriguing blend of traits worth developing, but he needs to significantly improve his technique before becoming a reliable starter in the NFL.
It’s always difficult to lose a top-end talent like Tyreek Hill, but in a salary cap-constrained environment like the NFL, the reality is that tough decisions like these need to be made almost every year, at least on teams who have some players worth keeping around.
The Chiefs knew they couldn’t retain Hill after 2022 and looked to optimize his value in draft capital at the risk of losing a relatively low-cost year for one of the best performers in the game - which they did. Even so, they’re the AFC champions and are going to the Super Bowl again this year, with around $27M more in hand for 2023, a starting cornerback, two developmental prospects on offense, and two additional picks yet to spend in the 2023 draft.
Some will surely say, “it’s only good teams that can afford to operate this way.” I would contend that it’s one hallmark of average teams that they fail to do so. What do you think?
Would you have traded Tyreek Hill for a draft haul?
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