Winners and Losers of NFL's Blockbuster Tyreek Hill Trade

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2022

Winners and Losers of NFL's Blockbuster Tyreek Hill Trade

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    It's been a wild NFL offseason filled with notable signings, surprise un-retirements and trades. Lots of trades. Another big deal landed Wednesday, with the Kansas City Chiefs sending star wideout Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.

    Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Chiefs will get a 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick, 2023 fourth-round pick and 2023 sixth-round pick. The Dolphins get a six-time Pro Bowler and one of the NFL's biggest game-breakers.

    Hill immediately gets a reported four-year extension worth $120 million.

    Naturally, Hill and his bank account are financial winners in this deal, as it's clear that the wideout was looking for a payday. It wasn't necessarily great for everyone, though. Let's dive into the biggest winners and losers of the NFL's latest blockbuster.

Winner: Tua Tagovailoa (and Mike McDaniel)

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    This is tremendous news for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has yet to establish himself as the clear-cut answer in Miami.

    Tagovailoa has shown flashes, and he does have a 13-8 record as a starter. However, he has also struggled to push the ball downfield—he ranked 23rd in adjusted yards per attempt last season—and with efficiency. Through 23 games, Tagovailoa has a good-not-great passer rating of 88.8.

    With a supporting cast that features Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Cedrick Wilson, Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Hill, Tagovailoa has no excuses. The Miami offense is loaded, and the QB should be able to finally break through as an above-average signal-caller.

    If he doesn't, it's probably not going to happen in Miami.

    The addition of Hill also benefits new head coach Mike McDaniel. As the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator, McDaniel frequently kept defenses off balance with creative play calls, designed receiver runs and other offensive trickery.

    In Hill, McDaniel has a player who has been an All-Pro receiver and an All-Pro return specialist. The playbook in Miami is about as wide open as it can get.

Loser: DeVante Parker

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    The trade isn't so great for Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker. Since being drafted in 2015, the Louisville product has gone from being a first-round pick to a promising receiver to a 1,200-yard pass-catcher to a role player.

    Now, there's a real chance Parker becomes an afterthought in Miami's offense.

    The Dolphins might not part with him this offseason—at least, they probably won't cut him outright—because the cap savings would be negligible. The 29-year-old is set to carry a cap hit of $8.7 million in 2022. Releasing him would trigger a dead-cap charge of $5.4 million while saving just $3.3 million against the cap.

    A release next offseason would net Miami $6.3 million in cap space.

    Parker had only 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 10 games last season—he missed seven with a hamstring injury. He'll find it hard to bolster his stock in 2022, and if he is let go, he'll enter a market where most of the big receiver payouts have already been given.

    The best-case scenario for him would be a trade.

Winners: Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Other Receivers Approaching Extensions

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Per Schefter, Hill's four-year, $120 million extension carries $72.2 million in guarantees. This is what Hill was hoping to get, only he couldn't get it from Kansas City.

    "Talks between the Chiefs and Tyreek Hill broke off in part because Hill wanted to top Davante Adams' deal by every metric, and Kansas City balked at that," The MMQB's Albert Breer tweeted.

    Hill's new contract comes on the heels of the five-year, $140 million pact Davante Adams got from the Las Vegas Raiders after Green Bay traded him. Hill's $30 million average annual value tops Adams' $28 million.

    This is an excellent development for legitimate No. 1 receivers approaching an extension. Minnesota Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson, for example, will be eligible for an extension after the 2022 season. Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp is only under contract through 2023.

    Really, No. 1 receivers everywhere are winners after the Hill and Adams deals. The price for top targets won't suddenly shrink, and the market has been set at an extraordinarily high level.

    The three-year, $60 million contract that Chris Godwin just signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is not the going rate.

Loser: The New York Jets

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Like the Dolphins, the New York Jets are looking to turn a young quarterback into a legitimate franchise signal-caller. Also like the Dolphins, the Jets were in on Hill. According to Schefter, however, New York was not willing to part with a first-rounder.

    "Jets trade offer to the Chiefs for Tyreek Hill—that Kansas City would have accepted if the WR opted for NY—did not include a first-round pick, but rather multiple picks that were commensurate to the Dolphins' offer based on the draft value chart that teams use, per sources," Schefter tweeted.

    Hill would have been a difference-making addition for the Jets and second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. The BYU product is a gifted quarterback but unpolished, and while he has a strong arm, he struggled with the deep ball last season.

    Wilson ranked 30th in adjusted yards per attempt in 2021. Theoretically, Hill would have made a huge difference in the downfield passing game.

    The Jets get to keep their selections and can take a swing on a receiver there, but there's no such thing as a "sure thing" in the draft.

Winner: Other Kansas City Pass-Catchers

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    I believe in the ability of Patrick Mahomes and the play-calling of Andy Reid enough to think that the Chiefs offense will find a way to function without Hill. Labeling either as a loser of the trade now would be jumping the gun—though it certainly makes sense to revisit the issue in seven or eight months.

    However, the Kansas City passing attack will be different. Hill frequently stretched the field and turned short passes into big gains. He was a huge focal point.

    In 2021, Hill was targeted a whopping 159 times. That's 25 percent of all of the Chiefs targets last season. Naturally, Kansas City will have to adjust.

    That's great for Chiefs pass-catchers Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and recent addition JuJu Smith-Schuster. Not only will they see their roles expand, but they'll also see their market value increase.

    This is especially true for Hardman and Smith-Schuster—Kelce is under contract through 2025. Hardman is in the final year of his rookie deal and is already eligible for an extension, while Smith-Schuster is on a one-year, $3.25 million deal. Both will be free agents in 2023, and if either becomes a 1,000-yard Pro Bowl receiver in the vacuum created by Hill's departure, said target will have an opportunity to cash in big.

Loser: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    With Hill in the lineup, opposing defenses were practically forced to play soft coverage, often two-high-safety looks, to limit the big play. This was the common approach against Kansas City in 2021.

    As ESPN's Seth Walder pointed out during the season, defenses essentially dared the Chiefs to beat them with short over-the-middle passes and the ground game.

    Kelce and Hardman are terrific deep threats, and Smith-Schuster is a tremendous after-the-catch talent. We're not going to see opposing defenses completely abandon an emphasis on perimeter and back-end coverage. However, Kansas City will probably see more loaded fronts than it did with Hill at the line.

    That's a potential problem for third-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The 2020 first-round pick hasn't lived up to his draft status, and while he's been serviceable, he hasn't been special.

    Edwards-Helaire has averaged 4.4 yards per carry while producing just 426 receiving yards in 23 career games—he missed seven contests last season with a knee injury.

    If teams are willing to stack the box more frequently than they have recently against the Chiefs, Edwards-Helaire's ground production could slump significantly. His value as a pass-catcher out of the backfield could increase some, but he will struggle to put up the numbers necessary for that lucrative second contract.

Winners: The Rest of the AFC West

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    Emilee Chinn/Associated Press

    While Kansas City will still field a dangerous offense in 2022, it won't be quite as difficult to defend—at least on paper and before the Chiefs delve into the draft. Hill is arguably the most dangerous deep threat in the league, and this offense isn't better without him.

    That's a problem for the Chiefs because the rest of the AFC West has gotten better this offseason. With Russell Wilson, Khalil Mack and Adams joining the division and the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Raiders, respectively, it might be the best NFL division we've ever seen.

    Even before the Hill trade, it was hard to call Kansas City the clear-cut favorite in the division. That's even more difficult with him gone.

    Yes, the Chiefs still have weapons. They have Mahomes and Reid. However, they've gotten weaker while the rest of the division has gotten stronger.

    Again, things could change quickly if Kansas City finds the right pieces in the draft. For now, though, the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders have to sense that the division is there for the taking.

    The Hill trade is a big win for the rest of the AFC West, even if only from a confidence standpoint and only until the start of the regular season.


    Contract information via Spotrac unless otherwise noted. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.


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