Tyreek Hill loss hurts Kansas City Chiefs in competitive AFC West

As AFC West teams continue to add talent, the division leader of six years has traded one of its best players.

After failing to negotiate a contract extension with Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs traded the wide receiver to the Miami Dolphins for five draft picks over the next two years.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is obviously the Chiefs’ most important player, but Hill was probably right behind him.

“Tyreek is the best receiver I’ve ever seen play, man,” tight end Travis Kelce said, “and that’s without the ball in his hands and with the ball in his hands. He’s the fighter ultimate.

While recording 479 catches and 56 receiving touchdowns during his entire tenure with the Chiefs, Hill topped 1,180 receiving yards in four of his last five seasons with Kansas City.

Possibly the fastest player in NFL history, Hill formed a perfect combination with Mahomes’ mighty arm.

But Hill was more than just a burner. He had a great ability to follow the ball, which he attributed to playing in the middle growing up.

The Chiefs have used him in throwing sweeps or sometimes put him in motion as a decoy just to force defenses to focus on him and free up other players. Kelce alluded to the latter skill when pointing out Hill’s ability without the ball in his hands.

Due to Hill’s myriad abilities, the Chiefs had one of the most feared offenses in the NFL, but the Chiefs’ grip on the division they’ve had for six straight years could loosen.

In fact, because of the marquee players their divisional opponents had acquired this offseason, the Chiefs’ hold had already been more tenuous.

The Denver Broncos added quarterback Russell Wilson, the Los Angeles Chargers bolstered their defense by adding Khalil Mack and JC Jackson, and the Las Vegas Raiders added Chandler Jones and Davante Adams.

Adams signed a five-year, $140 million deal to make him the highest-paid wide receiver in football.

The Dolphins are reportedly close to signing the 28-year-old Hill to an extension to match or perhaps surpass that.

The upside is that the Chiefs have now freed up about $20 million in salary cap space, and by dealing Hill, they acquire the Dolphins’ 2022 first-round pick (No. 29), a second-round pick in 2022 (No. 50), a 2022 fourth-round pick, a 2023 fourth-round pick, and a 2023 sixth-round pick.

And this year’s draft is loaded with receiving talent.

But finding a replacement for Hill won’t be easy.

Hill has always had elite speed. He ran a 4.26 40-yard sprint on his pro day in college. At Coffee High in Georgia, he ran the 200 meters in 20.14 seconds in 2012 – the second-fastest high school mark at the time and the one that would have placed him sixth at that year’s Olympics.

What was unusual was that someone so loaded with fast-twitch muscles could have such stamina, which head coach Andy Reid has often praised.

In addition to his physical qualities, he has a great work ethic.

Hill entered the NFL as a running back/returner before refining his running back and honing his fundamentals (like dropping his hips at the top of the road and creating separation at the line of scrimmage) to become a full receiver.

“He really evolved his game,” Mahomes said.

Now in the difficult AFC West, the Chiefs will have to change theirs.

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