BRONCOS

Broncos need to win now as Chiefs may not be down for long, if it all

Mar 24, 2022, 7:40 AM
DENVER, COLORADO - OCTOBER 25: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs looks to pass against ...
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos and their fans got quite the boost on Wednesday when the news broke that the Kansas City Chiefs had traded away superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. It was a shocking move to be sure, but the Chiefs weren’t going to be able to give Hill the large contract that he signed in Miami – making him the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL at around $30 million per year.

As soon as the Broncos added quarterback Russell Wilson, I proclaimed they should be in ‘win now’ mode and make a run at a Super Bowl. Broncos fans, and even some of my fellow talk show hosts on The Fan have said that it might take some time for the Broncos to get into a Super Bowl window. I think they’re in a playoff window, and most would agree, so that means they are in a Super Bowl window – believe it or not.

Without Hill, the Chiefs offense is going to look different. This is certainly a blow to their offense, and it will be interesting to see how quarterback Patrick Mahomes can operate without Hill at his disposal. The Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs in 13 games, and they never beat the Chiefs with Hill on the field. Now that he’s gone, and with the addition of Wilson, the Broncos could make a play for the AFC West title.

The Chiefs may not be down for long – if at all – so the Broncos need to be in ‘win now’ mode more than ever. Let’s examine why.

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More Speed via Free Agency

As soon as Hill was traded away, reports started circulating the Chiefs had their eyes on a speedy free agent veteran. One player they could bring in for a good price is former Green Bay Packers Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The projected price tag for the speedy veteran is around $8-10 million per year. That’s a huge discount compared to what Hill was going to count against the salary cap with a new deal.

A fifth-round pick out of South Florida in the 2018 NFL draft, Valdes-Scantling has long speed for days and that’s the best part of his game. He can blow by defenders regularly and tracks the ball well over his shoulder. Valdes-Scantling has ‘late hands’ and doesn’t tip off defenders when passes are coming in. His size makes him a great target in the red zone, and he could give the Chiefs another weapon to go along with newly added free agent JuJu Smith-Schuster.

He was on his way to a career year before a back injury that knocked him out of the last five games of the 2021 season. The Packers traded away Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, so many thought Valdes-Scantling was staying in Green Bay. Perhaps the Chiefs can convince him otherwise.

Valdes-Scantling is not Hill. However, he’s a true deep threat who averaged a whopping 18.1 air yards per target catching passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His speed could stretch the field like Hill’s speed did, and he could be the right target to add for Mahomes.

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Dream Big in the Draft

If the Chiefs don’t add a wide receiver in free agency – and even if they do – there is always the 2022 NFL draft to add more talent to the position. This might be the most boom-bust wide receiver class in NFL history. There are all different varieties of receivers in this class, and the Chiefs will be able to find speedy guys who could emulate what Hill did for their offense.

I’ve seen some in the scouting community throw out the name Jameson Williams (Alabama) as an option for the Chiefs. Williams is arguably the best wide receiver in this class, and he certainly has the speed to blow by defenders in the blink of an eye. Williams has drawn comparisons to both Jerry Jeudy and Will Fuller because of his quickness and speed. There is no doubt he has the makings of a top-tier pro receiver and might be the most explosive in this draft class.

A transfer from Ohio State, Williams dominated for the Crimson Tide in 2021. He has a nose for the end zone and can beat defenders with moves after the catch. Williams did suffer a knee injury in the National Championship Game, but that’s not expected to hurt his draft stock that much. Many don’t think Williams will fall to the Chiefs, but the team could dream big in the draft and make a run at him.

If they want to get Williams, the Chiefs will likely need to move up for that. Even with the January ACL injury, Williams is seen as a first-round pick who has been ahead in his recovery timetable according to reports. The Chiefs do have the assets to compile picks and make that sort of move, so adding arguably the top receiver in this draft class is not out of the question.

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They Have Mahomes

Perhaps the biggest reason the Chiefs won’t be down for long – if at all – is because they have Mahomes at quarterback. He had a connection with Hill almost instantly, and the two went on to become a nearly unstoppable duo. Since Mahomes became the Chiefs’ starting quarterback in 2018, he tossed Hill for 41 touchdowns, the second most by a QB-receiver duo in that time, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The ‘playground football’ we’ve seen from Mahomes and Hill will be over. No longer will Mahomes have the comfort of running around behind the line of scrimmage only to find Hill getting by defenders deep for a big play. Things must be more on time and on script with Hill gone to Miami. Mahomes will adjust his game, although that may take a bit of time.

Mahomes meshed with Hill, and he’s going to have to find a new receiver to get that mind meld with. It’s not impossible, but the natural chemistry that he had with Hill was uncanny. The two would know what to do based on coverage, and they seemed to almost always be on the same page. Hill’s not there anymore, so Mahomes will have to change his game.

Mahomes may not have the same connection with the new wide receivers added as he did with Hill, but his game is not going to fall off the cliff. He’s still a dangerous runner, and his arm is one of the best in the game. The Chiefs may be down in 2022, at least compared to the division winning expectations may had for them, but Mahomes won’t let them stay down. He’s one of the fiercest competitors in the NFL, and Mahomes won’t let the Chiefs slide much.
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Broncos need to win now as Chiefs may not be down for long, if it all