How Can the Chiefs Replace Tyreek Hill?

Then-Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
Then-Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Tyreek Hill may be gone, Kansas City Chiefs fans, but don't despair! The team pivoted immediately, signing Ronald Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling last week.

You remember Ronald Jones, right? He's like Diet Melvin Gordon. Jones was the featured back for the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a few hot minutes until he dropped so many short dumpoffs (five, per Pro Football Reference) that Leonard Fournette leap-frogged him on the depth chart and in Tom Brady's heart. Fournette ended up dropping seven passes, but Lenny is like a capybara, with a calming effect on potential predators.

Jones rushed for 428 yards last season, most of them coming when Fournette was injured late in the year or during the back ends of blowouts. Jones caught just 10 passes as Gio Bernard took over as the Buccaneers' third-down back. Jones finished 17th in DVOA, but the Buccaneers offense was a nearly ideal environment for much of the year. Fournette finished fifth, for heaven's sake.

Valdes-Scantling needs no introduction, of course. He's a charter member of the Aaron Rodgers Dissatisfaction Brigade, the closest thing the NFL has ever created to the Suicide Squad. Now he joins JuJu Smith-Schuster as a member of Patrick Mahomes' Howling Hyphenations. The Chiefs offense may not have as much speed as it did a few weeks ago, but it has gained many, many syllables.

But wait, there's more! The Chiefs also added Deon Bush, a former Chicago Bears special teams ace who plays a little safety, and Jermaine Carter, a former Carolina Panthers linebacker who finished tied for second in the NFL with 11 broken tackles in 2021.

The Chiefs also picked up extra first- and second-round picks in the 2022 draft in exchange for Hill, plus other stocking-stuffers. And they still have some extra Cheetah Bucks leftover to rummage around for other contenders' WR3s and RB3s. It will take three or four years to get a sense of how the Hill trade really worked out for the Chiefs.

That's right: the Hill trade instantaneously transformed the Chiefs from the team we most look forward to watching every week to a team we speak of in longitudinal Jets language.

That, in its own sense, makes the trade a complete loss.

Replacing the Irreplaceable Tyreek Hill

The Chiefs are likely to replace Tyreek Hill by committee. Valdes-Scantling will take over the deep chores, while Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman will handle the horizontal responsibilities: jet sweeps, shallow drags, etc. Justin Watson is also around, and while the Chiefs' top draft priority will be repairing the defense, another receiver will likely arrive by the end of Day 2. MVS, JuJu, and Watson must also replace the production lost by the departures of Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle, but whatever.

The Packers used Valdes-Scantling as a designated deep threat for most of his career. Let's take a look at his numbers on passes of 20-plus yards downfield. The short/deep receiving cutoff is usually 15 yards, but sliding it up to 20 yards gives a better sense of how a receiver might perform in a Tyreek-like role:

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 20-Plus-Yard Targets
Year Targets Rec Yards YPT
2018 19 7 269 14.2
2019 21 5 220 10.5
2020 22 7 374 17.0
2021 22 6 261 11.9

Valdes-Scantling and Davante Adams were each targeted on 20-plus-yard throws 22 times last year, even though MVS played just 11 games last season. MVS received more deep targets than Adams in 2020. He and Adams are the only Packers receivers to be targeted more than 20 times on 20-plus-yard passes since 2018. Valdes-Scantling also dropped three deep passes in 2020 yet somehow didn't fall through the trap door of Rodgers' doghouse into his piranha pool.

Are Valdes-Scantling's deep numbers "good?" They certainly aren't phenomenal, considering that he was catching passes from the MVP-winner in two of those seasons and was mostly only getting targeted when Adams drew coverage away from him.

Let's run Hill's numbers, while admitting up front that this is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Tyreek Hill, 20-Plus-Yard Targets
Year Targets Rec Yards YPT
2018 42 18 714 17.0
2019 20 10 383 19.1
2020 30 12 452 15.1
2021 25 9 334 13.4

Hill's 2021 deep receiving numbers point to both a problem with the 2021 Chiefs offense—less bang and more fizzle for the big-play buck—and one of the justifications for not offering Hill a market-resetting contract. Tyreek is probably not quite on the downside of his career just yet, but declining deep production could be a sign that he's trending in that direction.

That said, you probably didn't need situational breakdowns to illustrate that Valdes-Scantling on his best days can barely match Hill at his worst. But we're in the situational breakdowns business here at Football Outsiders, so you're welcome.

Hill's decrease in deep production came with an increase in short production. Hill was targeted a career-high 64 times within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2021, up from 48 times in 2020 and 34 times in 2019 (when he was injured for much of the season). You probably watched enough Chiefs games to know what was going on: teams were playing so much two-deep zone and off coverage that the Chiefs downshifted their offense somewhat, with Mahomes (eventually) tossing more underneath routes.

Let's compare Hill's extra-short receiving production in 2021 to that of his teammate Hardman, Smith-Schuster, and (why not?) Valdes-Scantling. We will use JuJu's 2020 numbers because he did not play much last year.

Passes of 5 or fewer Air Yards
Receiver Targets Rec Yards YAC YPT
Hill 64 57 353 319 5.5
Hardman 56 49 443 440 7.9
Smith-Schuster (2020) 80 70 410 303 5.1
Valdes-Scantling 18 13 63 47 3.5

Hardman has never really developed into the Tyreek 2.0 the Chiefs may have hoped for, but he's a darn fine YAC machine underneath. When healthy, Smith-Schuster gobbled up lots of very short receptions in the Steelers' All-Failed Completion Offense, sometimes doing a little something with them besides scampering out of bounds.

Hill, meanwhile, was not a very efficient "ball in space" threat in 2021: he may be able to score from anywhere on the field, but that doesn't mean it's wise to feed him the ball close to the line of scrimmage four times per game. JuJu and Hardman should be able to pick up Hill's underneath slack…

… except for the obvious fact that there may not be as much space to work underneath without Hill forcing the defense to account for the threat of a bomb on every single snap. Opponents were comfortable ceding lots of short curls to Hill because the alternative wasn't a palatable option. No one on the current Chiefs roster or in the draft pool—no one but a few of the NFL's All Pro-caliber receivers—will be treated with the same trepidation.

There's no way to stack wide receivers in the Chiefs passing game until they equal Hill unless, say, Chris Olave falls to the Chiefs with the 29th pick in the draft. But what if we stack all the assets the Chiefs acquire, both in direct return from the Hill trade in the draft and with their leftover cap space? If the Chiefs ultimately "traded" Hill for Valdes-Scantling; Jones; the money to bring back any veteran defender except perhaps Tyrann Mathieu; a rookie edge rusher and cornerback who make the Pro Bowl in two or three years; and some 2023 role players, that's a haul of players worth much more than one superstar wide receiver, right?


And that still doesn't make the trade an optimal move for the Chiefs.

The Mighty Morphin' Kansas City Chiefs

Ah, but perhaps Andy Reid and the Chiefs are consciously evolving their tactics.

That's becoming a popular theory in some circles. Last year's reinforcements along the offensive line, most notably Orlando Brown and Creed Humphrey, were straight-ahead drive-blockers, not traditional pass-protectors. Smith-Schuster, acquired before the Tyreek Hill trade, is a well-built underneath target with a decent reputation as a blocker. Jones joins Clyde Edwards-Helaire in a backfield which soaks up significant resources. Reid isn't going to transform the Chiefs into the 1977 Steelers, but maybe he plans to create a more balanced offense, like the ones the Packers and Buccaneers use to great effect to support their Hall of Fame quarterbacks.

Andy Reid Runs More has been a popular fanfic genre since about 2006, when Philadelphia Eagles fans thought they were getting an offense built around Brian Westbrook but instead got one built around Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. Reid may want to run the ball more often, just as I want to go to the gym more often. He may build his roster with more balance in mind, just as I may purchase new sweatshirts and earbuds. But anyone who watched the 2021 AFC Championship Game knows it's never going to happen: the opponent can spot him a 21-3 lead and line its safeties up in the parking lot, and Reid's still gonna order Mahomes to let 'er rip.

Also, as connect-the-dots fan/media theories proliferate over the next few months, it's important to remember that the Chiefs planned to sign Hill to a cap-friendly extension right up until the moment the Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. Even insiders were shocked by the sudden reversal. Reid, Brett Veach, and the Chiefs organization certainly hustled together a sensible Plan B when it became obvious that Hill wasn't going to play ball with their cap issues. But it was not Plan A.

The Chiefs now have no choice but to morph into something more conventional. That could be a good thing. Football Outsiders spent a lot of energy and word count tracking the Chiefs' rise from a historically bad defense into something acceptable throughout the 2021 season. Lots of us furrowed our brows over their early-season turnover jags, their difficulty adjusting to simple two-deep defensive tactics, and their weird obsession with improv-theater short-yardage concepts. Trading brilliance for stability might make sense for a franchise with plenty of one but not enough of another.

The question comes down to whether the Chiefs traded a little brilliance for a lot of stability, or a lot of brilliance for a little too little.

Remembering Corey Coleman

We omitted one newcomer in our rundown of new Chiefs playmakers. Corey Coleman was selected 15th overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He caught 56 passes in two seasons for the Browns, drank a cup of coffee with the New York Giants in 2018, suffered an ACL tear in 2019, spent 2020 on the Giants practice squad, and served a six-game substance suspension as an unsigned free agent in 2021.

Coleman is extremely unlikely to make the Chiefs final roster. But his arrival allows us to dredge up the Browns-Eagles Carson Wentz trade, perhaps for the last time.

The Browns traded the second overall pick in the 2016 draft to the Eagles in exchange for the eighth, 77th, and 100th picks in that draft, plus the Eagles' first-round pick in 2017 and second-rounder in 2018. That trade set off a chain reaction which still ripples through the NFL in complicated ways. The Eagles selected Wentz, the Browns traded down again before selecting Coleman. The Eagles rose to the Super Bowl, fell, and rose again, while the Browns ricochet between Moneyball experiments and soap operas.

Re-litigating the Wentz trade was a hobbyhorse for Browns bloggers and some of my analytics-minded colleagues for years. It should finally be a dead issue now, so I won't climb on my soapbox yet again. But the Wentz trade illustrated and magnified a philosophical divide which was later reinforced by the Raiders/Bears Khalil Mack trade and still echoes when we talk about the Tyreek Hill trade:

The Traditionalist View: Football is a game of magical players, and a franchise must do everything it can to acquire a handful of them.

The Contrarian View: Football is a game of resource management, and a franchise must do everything it can to stockpile and allocate resources.

The "contrarian" view is often framed as the "analytics" view, in part because More Picks = Good has become a bumper sticker slogan for our team, and the Browns were, sadly, our thought leaders/mascots. Oversimplifications and tribalism aside, debates on blockbuster Wentz-Mack-Tyreek-Russell Wilson trades boil down to the fact that some folks prefer the bird in the hand, some the two in the bush.

But just how plump and juicy is this bird in the hand? How many birds are really in the bush? Are they chicks or are they ready to roast? How many of them can we really catch? And what's our objective: poultry dinner for a hungry family tonight or establishing a more sustainable food source?

The Chiefs traded a few percentage points of probability that they will win Super Bowl LVII for an increased percentage chance that they can win LVIII and LIX when they traded Hill. How many points of each is debatable. What's not debatable is that every percentage point is precious for a team that won a Super Bowl in 2019 and has been slipping a few inches at a time ever since, much more precious than theoretical opportunities two/three/four years down the line.

Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Matthieu

The Chiefs found themselves in a precarious spot this offseason. Like the Buccaneers, Packers, and Rams, they are short-window contenders. Unlike those other teams, Patrick Mahomes is only 26 years old (egads) and under contract until the era of flying cars. Also unlike those other contenders, their roster was showing evidence of severe dry rot from within in 2021, particularly on defense. Finally, those other three contenders must only worry about one another, while the Chiefs got locked into the AFC arms race.

Once contract talks stalled, the Tyreek Hill trade became a necessary evil. The Davante Adams trade by the Packers was a similar move. As I wrote in my immediate reaction to the Hill trade, it was certainly practical and defensible. But it was not optimal, because the Chiefs really needed to keep their birds in hand if they wanted to win a Super Bowl.

That's why the lynchpin of the Hill trade may be Tyrann Matthieu. He's facing a lukewarm free-agent market. He appears willing to return to the Chiefs. If they plan to rebuild their defense out of rookies and Bears/Panthers castoffs, they'll need a veteran tone-setter with a pre-designed role in the defense. Bring the Honey Badger back in his jack-of-all-trades role, with Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill as the traditional safeties and Bush chasing punt returners. Then maybe we can talk about the Hill trade as some sort of "win."

Until then, the Hill trade is just a compromise solution. That's not the sort of thing that's worth cheering for.

Irish Wake for The Cap is Fake

Pour a wee bit out for the old sod, everyone's favorite drinking companion this time of year: Cappus Fake, whose hard living finally caught up to him in the hours after the Tyreek Hill trade.

Cappus Fake was a hail fellow well met, the life of a party he thought would never end, and he ran with a crowd that never fretted about tomorrow. Mardi Gras-through-St. Paddy's Day was their favorite time of the year. Every time an NFL team signed a free agent to a record-setting deal, added two void years to the back of a contract, or performed some other deft feat of accounting trickery, they all raised their pints and chanted the name of their ringleader, "Cappus Fake!"

The good times rolled for the Cappus Fake crowd for over a decade. Oh, how they laughed at the teetotalers and bean-counters who warned them of future consequences. NFL teams can do whatever they want, Cappus Fake's lads intoned, and the crowd at the pub cackled at those who believed otherwise. Cappus Fake became a rallying cry and a nugget of folk wisdom which only gained credence as the Buccaneers and Rams assembled Super Bowl dream teams which appeared to defy the laws of accounting, frugality, or common sense.

Alas, no one noticed how narrow the path Cappus Fake walked had become. The pandemic brought cap constrictions, yet he still partied through the wee hours. For teams like the Saints, the financial machinations slowly ceased to be fun and started to look desperate. But surely ol' Mickey Loomis had an ace named Deshaun Watson up his sleeve, right? Only a fool counts pennies when Super Bowls are won by the brazen. And the devil had yet to catch up with any true Super Bowl contender.

Then the Packers were forced to trade Devante Adams. And the Chiefs were forced to trade Tyreek Hill. And neither the Saints nor Falcons could find room in their creaking budgets for Watson. Which led to the Falcons giving up the ghost of the Matt Ryan era, and on being competitive in 2022 and probably 2023 and 2024.

Suddenly the landscape shifted. Careful Super Bowl plans amounted to naught. The bill collectors came calling. The party was over.

Bah, claim the Cappus Fake crowd. Adams wanted to play in Las Vegas. The Chiefs planned to transition away from Hill. The Saints are better off with Jameis Winston and an aging roster full of players they won't be able to cut until 2024! There's always a rationalization for those who would rather cling to slogans and easy explanations than learn to calculate prorations or explain how last year's budgeting mistake led to this year's Pro Bowl departure.

But they all looked down into their pints as Cappus Fake himself staggered into the night, fell to the muddy earth, and breathed his last on a drizzly early spring evening, survived only by the lazy, misinformed opinions he inspired.

So let's raise a toast to the silly notion that the mathematics that inevitably drags contenders down from their hilltops is meaningless simply because it's complicated. But it won't be our last toast. Heaven forbid! Legends like Cappus Fake don't really die. His name will echo again whenever times are good and pockets are full, whenever an NFL team converts a 32-year-old linebacker's base salary into a bonus, whenever a local radio personality doesn't want to bore listeners by explaining what that minus-$40 million figure on really means.

Though we're lowering him into the ground today, we will never hear the last of that charming, shortsighted, misguided, lovable scoundrel Cappus Fake.


77 comments, Last at 07 Apr 2022, 5:03am

2 Hill and Adams were already on the team

Under the cap at the new league year. It didn't force them to trade them. They just valued others more (OL notably, I tried warning people about the Bak, and much earlier Turner, contract but, casuals just threw "the game is won in the trenches" back at me). Which, yeah I guess you could label as cap but, everything can be lol. Just because it's complicated doesn't mean it's meaningful (obviously the cap is meaningful but to what degree?)

Also the notion that you gotta keep the cap for the long term with a young QB like Mahomes is funny because the Packers seemed pretty conscious of that pre Lafleur yet 17/18 still happened (and isn't that what killed Andrew Luck?).  QB will always be priority number one, but I still dont want to see a Mahomes without a Hill long term, even though we can parse their play/value the best of our ability...we think. 

Seems silly to determine a win if they re sign an old safety though lol

4 Of course the cap matters,…

Of course the cap matters, but the cap being $208 million when back in 2019 the projections were in the $220 - 228 million range (and it likely would have hit that without COVID) matters a lot. Do you think the Chiefs and Packers couldn't have come to longer term deals with to make Hill and Adams happy with 12 to 20 million more to work with? Both of those contracts may have been done before the end of the 2021 season without cap contraction and the Packers may not have had to piss Adams off by tagging him.

The 2022 major movement off season will be a blip. 2023 and 2024 may see a bit more than usual too since since not all of the contracts that were impacted by contraction and the cap growth being significantly behind will all be cleared. But you aren't going to see the same type of big name movement you saw this year. After that assuming no more crazy outside factors we'll be back to normal and teams will be able to go a decade or more of pushing money to the future again and the cap "won't matter" because it will be predictable and you can account for predictable. That was the real reason it didn't matter. Teams knew how much future money they were going to have. It's not that it didn't impact decisions on who to keep.

So obviously the impact of the cap is real, but using the 2021 and 2022 off seasons to try and do a gotcha type moment is bad analytics of what the actual impact is. Staying $20 million under the cap at all times just in case doesn't seem like good resource management either. Stay under to keep flexibility. Do that in line with how flexible your current crop of contracts are. If you have several easy to get out of contracts you can ride the cap harder because you can get out of contracts for your flexibility to deal with injuries player decline or massively cost controlled rookies not providing enough on the field.

16 Agree

And for what it sounds like, the WRs wanted out so it's not like they literally couldn't afford them THIS year. It's the future years that get tricky but honestly some teams don't want to have to deal with it because...why would you when you want long term security?

17 The one cap situation that…

The one cap situation that IMO is independent of our microscopic friend is the Saints.  They've been on the edge of cap hell for a long time and could be in real trouble over the next year or two.

OTOH, the Packers and Chiefs moves were cap related, but based on avoiding cap hell rather than getting out of it (as I think you were saying).

20 And as he states

It's only really because of covid. A year in which the cap goes down which is extremely rare. 

Riding it for so long is the point. Only interrupted by an unseen pandemic. And the only guy they really lost this year is marcus Williams

21 Cap has always had an effect…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Cap has always had an effect. The pandemic made it more extreme but I don't thing anyone seriously thought it had none. It's just the decrease forced more high profile trading of stars than normal. 

24 No one said it didn't completely

But playing "gotcha" a year after the cap going down isn't really the victory Mike thinks it is. That's an anomaly that squeezes everyone.

But someone has to absorb the trades. And it's not surprising it's worse teams. Even though, it doesn't FORCE them to trade guys already under their control. They just mightve come to a deal earlier without a pandemic and pissing them off with their offers. Then there wouldn't anything to deride and make up names for if things continued as normal.

5 There's something to be said…

There's something to be said for judging your moves by the reaction of your opponents. As a Bills fan, I was ecstatic to see Hill out of KC. Even though we'll play him more now, the Mahomes - Hill connection was always more than the sum of its parts, especially when they played us. If they want to transition to a balanced offense, that's A-Ok with me. Even in the 2020 regular season game, when they "ran over" us, we held them to 26 points and only an overturned fumble kept us from having a shot at the lead with <6 minutes left. I'll take those odds.

6 The "contrarian" view is…

The "contrarian" view is often framed as the "analytics" view, in part because More Picks = Good has become a bumper sticker slogan for our team, and the Browns were, sadly, our thought leaders/mascots. Oversimplifications and tribalism aside, debates on blockbuster Wentz-Mack-Tyreek-Russell Wilson trades boil down to the fact that some folks prefer the bird in the hand, some the two in the bush.

The value of those picks is *really* dependent on how well you think the FO can execute on those extra picks. KC has earned some credibility on that, especially after last year's draft, but man not having those impossible Mahomes-to-Hill bombs to look forward to is a bummer.

7 The opposing view is that…

The opposing view is that Reid has turned out good offenses when his receivers were a collection of fungible slot guys. That was basically the pre-2008 Eagles.

26 Except for Terrell Owens in 2004

The opposing view is that Reid has turned out good offenses when his receivers were a collection of fungible slot guys. That was basically the pre-2008 Eagles.

Except for TO in 2004, who almost single handedly won them a SB. While badly hobbled with an ankle sprain.

28 And with a dramatically less…

And with a dramatically less capable (but still very good) QB in McNabb. I'm genuinely curious to see how Mahomes will adjust, and hoping we can hit on some real DLine help in the draft, which is what I think they're planning on trying to do.

8 because More Picks = Good…

because More Picks = Good has become a bumper sticker slogan for our team, and the Browns were, sadly, our thought leaders/mascots.

Can we get past this point, please? The Browns have had fewer draft picks than average every year after Baker Mayfield was drafted. The Browns are a terrible team to hang your "stockpiling picks is good" hat on.

10 It's called elementary school grammar

You do see the word "were" in there, don't you Pat?

The Browns were stockpiling draft picks like Ebenezer Scrooge. Like no one else in the NFL at that time was doing, perhaps had ever done. So yes, the Browns for that stretch were the proper Poster Child for the More Picks = Good analytics folks. The Browns of that stretch were exactly the right team to hang that hat on.

Once you find an "are" there somewhere, let me know.

52 It was 5+ years ago! It's…

It was 5+ years ago! It's like saying "the Eagles were the poster child for not running enough" and you're like, wait, what? "Oh, I meant in the mid-2000s."

And it was only like, two years anyway, and it was only notable because the Browns were so bad for so long. It's easy to stockpile picks when you suck. You want a real team that focuses on stockpiling picks, go with the Ravens.

9 I think Tanier summed it up…

I think Tanier summed it up well. The Chiefs plan B makes sense, even though it was probably suboptimal. I am one of those people who thinks they would be better off letting Hill walk next offseason but getting one more year of his services

11 The fact that Hill was ok…

The fact that Hill was ok with Miami means he was pretty focused on the money, so realistically, they would have one more year which makes this wacky to calculate, since its

(1 year of hill  - replacement) - (other upgrades they can't do)   >?=?<?   improvements from trading him over several year - (Hill - replacement)

I doubt they be able to trade him in a year or wouldn't get near as much. Probably the best idea, but yeah, bit of a downgrade for next year and much less watchable. 

13 I am assuming they couldn't…

I am assuming they couldn't trade him. The thing is, I don't think it makes sense to evaluate how Tyreke does in Miami when deciding if the Chiefs made the right move(which I am assuming a lot of fans will do). I fully expect Hill to be completely irrelevant in Miami because I don't have faith in their QB nor do I have faith that their QB will actually use Tyreke in the way that he should be,

What's hard to evaluate is; does the Tyreke Hill haul give the Chiefs more championship equity overall to make up for one year's loss of championship equity? I suspect in terms of pure mean value, it does. But then there's the uncertainty. Draft picks are uncertain and the range out outcomes can be pretty wide while Tyreke gives near certainty. To that end, I'd rather have kept Tyreke.

A more interesting question is...should they have anticipated this better and not committed so much money to their offensive line? They signed Thuney in free agency, a top guard and paid Orlando Brown big money. Should they have taken the Colts approach and gone cheap on the line and paid their receivers? That's harder to say but an interesting question. Me personally, again, I actually like the moves they've done. Its really incumbent on Mahomes to adjust his game a bit. Playing sandlot, bombs away was never going to be a viable long term strategy anyways. 

19 It doesn't have to be either…

It doesn't have to be either or. Really, as long as the O line is mediocre to below average, its not a neck weight to your offense unless you run into a terrible matchup. 

The Chiefs opted for a strong o line rather than an adequate one and it played into the cost of losing Tyreke. 

39 True. Mostly the point was…

True. Mostly the point was you kinda need an O-line. Even if you go in with OK, then you get injuries, it becomes a horror show,  your QB get's don't want your Mahomes getting Burrowed unless everything goes well.  I'm sure they could have gotten a deal done with Hill, but he would basically have to continue at his current level for the life of the contract to  make it worth it and that seems fairly unlikely and you gotta consider other places they would have to sacrifice. 

70 Rightly or wrongly, the…

Rightly or wrongly, the Chiefs' FO looked at the TB Super Bowl and decided it wasn't going to "go in with OK, then you get injuries" strategy again.

The team still needs to sign Brown long-term and get a solution at RT better than Wylie.  But Veach/Reid decided that good line minus Hill was better than bad line plus Hill.

Sure that's over-simplified, there are other options.  But at some level the heavy investment in the o-line led to Hill's departure.

15 On the contrary

He'd be in the same situation Davante Adams was this year, on the tag. Perhals with better a resume or at least, still a year younger (entering age 29 instead of 30 like Davante).

12 I think the cap be damned…

I think the cap be damned tribe continues to be influential and vocal because we don't really have a way to quantify the tradeoffs of cap flexibility. Ie - how much more championship equity did the Saints lose going all in during Brees' twilight years? It  might seem like any cost is justifiable when your hall of fame QB is at the end; but how much does this particular set of moves doom their future seasons? Is it just one year? two? Five? I think depending on that answer, it can shift the cap calculus one way or the other.


57 I think you'd be hard…

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Denver Broncos fan who would happily give up the super bowl 50 victory in exchange for 2-3 years of first round playoff exits over the last 5 seasons. Likewise, if you told Rams fans that the consequence of the all-in strategy from 2021 is irrelevance until 2026, I suspect they'd still want the team to have made all of the moves that put them in the position to win a Super Bowl.

60 Well, that's with the…

Well, that's with the benefit of hindsight. I think the Saints failure to get to, much less win the sb is the more common result and that's where it becomes a discussion. There are many universes where neither the Rams nor the Broncos actually end up winning it all but are left with the cap pain nonetheless.

61 The tradeoffs between the…

The tradeoffs between the whole GFIN and "keep making the playoffs and get lucky" are interesting and hard to analyze. I don't think you can say one strategy is superior to the other since it basically depends on how well the individual decisions work out rather than one being correct. (Like a key for the Rams this year was nailing their midseason moves). The sustained strategy basically works when you nail some draft picks usually. There is probably one universe out there where the Colts, WFT or NE win a SB next year.. Super small number I bet however. 


63 I posed this some threads…

I posed this some threads back. Who should go all in right now? By that I mean, who should be bloating their cap sheet and trading multiple first rounders to acquire some gettable top talent? 

Based on the replies I got, there are two limiting critiera. A) You haven't yet won the SB in a while. B) You are somewhere near the doorstep of winning it.

That basically means teams like the Bills, the Packers(if they had the space), the 49ers(if they had the draft capital), and the Chargers? Which leaves just the Bills and Chargers. On top of the spending, should those teams have traded multiple first rounders for Devante Adams(since Tyreke was probably a no go from the Chiefs perspective). Should those teams be going heavy on veterans or better to keep cap flexibility and draft picks until they are close to the end of their runs?

67 I think there is a bit of…

I think there is a bit of skill in knowing when to flip.  You could argue the Bills did a bit this year with the Von Miller contract. (Giving an older star a massive contract is pretty much the quintessential GFIN move, although a great like Miller has a better odds than most at making it work.)

People forget Brady was viewed as declining before he went to tampa. Well, he still is, we just realized we have no idea what to predict at this point. 


68 That's a fair point…

That's a fair point. According to overthecap dot com's effective cap space for 2023, there are 8 teams who are already in the red for 2023, and all of these teams will eventually have to pay the piper for their willingness to mortgage the future. Only one of them has won a recent Super Bowl (TB), and only 1 of the others is a legitimate title contender for 2022 (Chargers). So at least 75% of the teams who are currently projected to be under water in the near future will not have achieved the success that would've made the impending irrelevancy worth it.

On the other hand, only New England, Seattle, and Kansas City seem to have been able to win super bowls in the last decade without mortgaging their future to do it. Seattle and Kansas City won superbowls with elite quarterbacks on rookie contracts, and New England did it with Tom Brady on a team-friendly deal.

So the formula for having a chance to win a superbowl seems to be to choose one of the following:

1) get elite qb play at a discounted price

2) use accounting mechanisms to defer the cap accounting of current spending into future years

23 I agree with the general…

I agree with the general point but,

And neither the Saints nor Falcons could find room in their creaking budgets for Watson.

The Saints definitely could have fit Watson in, they simply chose not to create the room until they had the certainty. I assume the Falcons could, too. It would have been embarrassing to have Watson pick them only for them to say, whoopsie! Never mind...

I wanted the Saints to get Watson just to see how the heck they intended to move forward with that contract. I imagine not too differently from what happened with Brees. It's inexcusable for a franchise with a QB that good to go 8-8 four times. But they also won a SB with Brees. Could they have pulled it off with Watson and their stone-age cap management?

27 "The Chiefs traded a few…

"The Chiefs traded a few percentage points of probability that they will win Super Bowl LVII for an increased percentage chance that they can win LVIII and LIX when they traded Hill."

Everyone seems to evaluate all personnel decisions, esp. involving QBs, in terms of probability of winning a SB. As in, team A has a solid but unspectacular QB (e.g. Cousins, Carr), so since they don't have the second coming of Johnny U they should blow it up, get a top 5 overall pick, and take a swing at [insert college phenom here]. And even criticisms of this strategy focus on the possibility that the team, as currently constructed, can indeed win a SB. 

I am clearly in the minority here, but I feel there is value--often great value--in every win, especially playoff wins, whether or not they lead to a SB. For instance, one of my most cherished sports memories is the opening kickoff of the Giants/Eagles Div. Round in 2000 which Ron Dixon returned returned for a TD, sending an already-amped-up crowd into rapturous pandemonium. The subsequent beatdown of the Moss/Carter/Reed Vikings the next week was an absolute blast as well. The fact that they got annihilated in the SB by the Ravens doesn't tarnish those memories for me.

So if you suggested to me that since Kerry Collins wasn't the kind of QB to win you a SB (he wasn't, in the end) and thus the Giants should have gone with, say, Danny Kanell and traded away Collins, Strahan and whoever else so they could draft Michael Vick or David Carr (the next two #1 picks), I'd say you're crazy--give me those wins against the Eagles and Vikings 10 times out of 10.

To be clear, this is not an argument for or against trading Tyreek Hill--just an observation that most people define on-field success in a way that (it seems to me) misses a large part of the point of being a sports fan.

30 I think some of the "success…

I think some of the "success" definition also relates to long-term stability. The Chiefs dealt Hill a year before they needed to for more potential stability and depth rather than a "SB or bust" year a la the 2021 Rams or 2020 Buccaneers. Flags or even wins do fly forever, but having had to watch the post-Vermeil/pre-Reid Chiefs for most of my adult life I can say that if you go for it and *don't* win, it's an awful bitter taste. 

46 Deshawn Watson plays a…

Deshawn Watson plays a position where career length can extend 12 plus years. So he can afford to toss away a whole season.  Wide receivers, especially ones in the absolute meat of their primes cannot. And running backs definitely cannot.

Aso, pretty sure ABs antics cost him a lot of money and probably a hall of fame shot.

48 He probably wouldn't sit out…

He probably wouldn't sit out. So they would have him for next year, could maybe tag him for one more year, but he would be gone after that regardless. I can see the argument for getting what you can now at least. 

64 Just because it's a bad idea…

Just because it's a bad idea to sit out doesn't mean he wouldn't. Or, as is often the case, he'd hold out, report out of shape and get injured and/or have a down year. Which is a good argument for not holding out, but it's still something players do. I think the threat shouldn't be taken lightly.

69 I'm not sure that's correct…

I'm not sure that's correct. He did demand a trade during the 2021 offseason, but then he reported to training camp on time and was sent home. Now, it's possible that when he reported to TC he let it be known that he'd turn every day into a clown show, but I think it was actually a team decision to do what they did. If he'd actually refused to play, there's no way they wouldn't have fined/suspended him under the provisions of the cba.

58 Yes, Bell cost himself a lot…

Yes, Bell cost himself a lot of money by sitting out.  However, it's helpful to note that the Jets signed him to a deal that was pretty similar to what the Steelers offered him.  For certain positions, I don't believe that the franchise tag is much of a threat anymore.  Would you play on a 1 year deal for $20M when you know that you could get $70M+ guaranteed on the open market right now?

31 As 2015 Peyton Manning…

As 2015 Peyton Manning showed, a team CAN still win the sb while getting almost nothing from their passing game.

Kirk Cousins is clearly good enough to win the SB, so blowing it up because he's only Kirk Cousins is stupid and silly and mostly coming from the fact that he's perceived as overpaid and because he is an antivaxxer( no judgement implied).

When I say championship equity, it applies to Kirk Cousins. It applies to the Jaguars and Jets too. The Bengals made the SB and had a chance to win it, despite literally no one, not even rosy Bengals fans, thinking they could have when the season began.

33 Conversely, I'd rather watch…

Conversely, I'd rather watch a 4 win team one year, draft Joe Burrow (or any other good young QB) and then watch a franchise on an upward trajectory for 10 years (hopefully with a SB in there) than watch teams that make the playoffs and get hammered in the first or second round. Yeah, yeah, we just had a SB between 2 4th seeds.  Betting on that 1 in 50 chance (and then the chance that it is YOUR TEAM) isn't plan. 

It probably changes depend on where your team is historically.  Family in Pitt were in favor of the suck and start a new dynasty, family in NE (this was the 90s) agreed with you. Now...the NE group is more on the dynasty side. lol  Not to mention, you can take those 

Part of the problem is most teams front offices don't last long enough for this type of long term planning since you get fired after 3 bad years. Lots of teams can't transition to rebuilding correctly. 


45 Indeed. And another problem…

Indeed. And another problem with this mindset is that winning the SB as a 4 seed or lower is a lot better than a 1/50 chance. By my count, it's an 11/46 chance since the NFL went to a seeding system in 1975. And back then, only 2 teams were 4 seeds or lower. Now the majority of playoff teams are, meaning that the 11/46 number will only increase.

47 Maybe, but more playoff…

Maybe, but more playoff rounds makes it harder to just have a really good game at the right time, since you need to do it 4 times in a row now.  And, 11/46 is by year.  It's 11/242 by number of teams. (did that quick).. Most 4+th seeds go nowhere

51 You're right. That…

You're right. That calculation should not have been done by year, but rather by team. Duh. 

So 11/242 or approx 4% vs. 35/138 for approx 25% for seeds 1-3. 

Too lazy to do it at the moment, but I wonder if that has shifted toward the lower seeds in the salary cap era. Sure seems like it used to be a near lock for the 1 or 2 seed to make it to the SB (think 49ers/Giants/Skins/Cowboys in the 80s/early 90s) but seems to be much more of a crapshoot these days, NE excepted...which I guess is a pretty big exception.

59 I know you were running…

I know you were running probabilities and you correct your mistaken assumption a few posts later. Just in case you want a bit more historical summary data.

I've got all the seed vs seed breakdowns in post 247 here: at the end there is a participants by seed and if that seed was a WC or division winner.

Also did a bunch of DVOA and SRS averages and top/bottom 10 stuff in post 1 here:

74 Conversely, I'd rather watch…

Conversely, I'd rather watch a 4 win team one year, draft Joe Burrow (or any other good young QB) and then watch a franchise on an upward trajectory for 10 years (hopefully with a SB in there) than watch teams that make the playoffs and get hammered in the first or second round.

Let's take 4-12 teams starting in 2000:

2000 Bengals: Did not launch a dynasty, though they did make the playoffs in 2005.

2000 Falcons: Got Vick, made it to playoffs four times in next 10 years (but only twice with Vick)

2002 Texans: Pretty much went nowhere.

2002 Bears: Made it two one SB, two other playoff appearances over the next ten years.

2003 Raiders: Went nowhere

2003 Chargers: They already _had_ their franchise QB (Brees), managed to get Rivers a few years back, nice run with Schottenheimer

2003 Giants: Got Eli, you know the rest

2003 Cardinals: Didn't get a QB, ended up signing Warner, made it to one SB

2004 Dolphins: Went nowhere

2004 Browns: Went nowhere

2005 Jets: Got Pennington, but went 4-12 two years later anyways

2005 Titans: Got Vince Young, went nowhere with him, managed one 13-3 seasons with Kerry Collins as QB.

2005 Packers: Already had Favre _and_ Rodgers

2005 49ers: Went nowhere until Harbaugh came on board

2006 Browns: Went nowhere

2006 Bucs: Went nowhere

2007 Jets: see above

2007 Chiefs: Went nowhere

2007 Raiders: Went nowhere

2007 Falcons: Got Matt Ryan, and relatively sustained success thereafter

2008 Bengals: Went nowhere

2008 Browns: Went nowhere

2008 Seahawks: Still three years away from getting Wilson

2009 Chiefs: Went nowhere

2009 Washington: Went nowhere, that got them RGIII a few years later

2010 Bills: Went nowhere

2010 Bengals: Went nowhere

2010 Broncos: Tebowmania, then traded for Manning.


So out of 22 instances, 2 fit your model (Giants, Falcons). The fact that many teams returned to this list within 10 years suggests that 'go 4-12 and draft a good QB' doesn't have a great success rate.

75 2010 Bills: Went nowhere We…

2010 Bills: Went nowhere

We had the #3 pick in one of the most talent rich drafts in NFL history and grabbed Marcel Dareus, which turned out to be a huge miss. It could have been worse (we could have had Gabbert or something), but the Bengals and Broncos on your list landed perennial Pro Bowlers on either side of us.

76 Technically, the Broncos…

Technically, the Broncos signed Manning in Free Agency.

What I think this illustrates is building a SB team via a QB savior is a low odds play. But then building a SB winner of any stripe is a low odds play. All paths to the title are low odds by definition.

The other point is...missing on a QB atop the first round is much costlier in terms of time and years committed. If you miss, it's at least 3 years of waste plus a fired coach and or gm. And that's at a minimum. 

50 red zone issues

One of the issues with the Chiefs in the Mahomes era is that while they have been absurdly good at long range, they have been only normal-good in the red zone. When they lost games, it was usually because they had a million 1st downs but settled for FGs. That's why they drafted Edwards-Hilaire, and also why they always spend so much effort ginning up crazy red zone plays.

Tyreek is a fabulous player, but as we witnessed in the Bengals game at the end of the 1st half, it's hard to get full value out of him with goal-to-go. I hate seeing Cheetah leave, and I want him to succeed in Miami, but I wouldn't bet against Reid using all those draft picks to find a way to get even better.