On Wednesday, train Kansas City Chiefs (and San Francisco 49ers and Washington) quarterback Alex Smith checked in with “The Rich Eisen Show.” On for about 20 minutes, Smith spent nearly three of those minutes discussing Kansas City’s recent decision to trade wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.
Drawing from his experience of five years with the Chiefs, including two with Hill, Smith tried to forecast the club’s future in 2022 and beyond.
“Flat out, you’re not going to replace him,” said Smith. “There’s literally only one Tyreek Hill in the whole NFL — he is that kind of difference-maker. I was fortunate enough to play my last two years there in Kansas City with him.”
Hill accumulated 2,102 scrimmage yards and combined 16 touchdowns while playing with Smith from 2016-17.
“When [Hill’s] on the field, defense plays differently,” Smith added. “He opens up so many other players around him because everybody’s so fearful. There’s a lot of fast guys in the league that are very — in the end — they’re kind of one-dimensional. Tyreek is not that. We saw it throughout the playoffs: catch-and-run, catching the deep ball, put him back there for punt/kickoff return, hand him the ball in the backfield. I mean, he’s an incredible weapon, incredibly unique — and you’re just not going to fill those shoes.”
In 13 playoff games during his six years in Kansas City, Hill had 84 receptions for 1,081 yards and five touchdowns. Among those numbers is one of the most important catches in Chiefs’ history — the third-and-15, 44-yard gain that came as a result of the “2-3 Jet Chip Wasp” call during Super Bowl LIV.
The play began a fourth-quarter comeback against the San Francisco 49ers that led to the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. As many have suggested, without Hill, the Chiefs’ offense won’t look the same as it has during recent years.
“I do think they won’t be as dynamic on offense,” he said. “This is the trade-off that I think Andy [Reid]’s thinking about, and Brett Veach, as they’re looking at it is, well, for that salary that they were going to potentially get him and the draft picks that they got in return: can they go be better on the defensive side of the ball? I think they look back to a few years ago and maybe they’re going to be a bit more balanced on offense and defense. They’re going to get draft picks in return, and I also think this has been Andy’s [strategy] his entire coaching career: rather than letting you play out your contract and walk away for nothing, he’s certainly going to try and get value for you while he can. I was even a product of that, right? How many quarterbacks have we seen him do this with over the years, where he does trade them and gets value back?”
Seven years before Reid and company traded Smith to Washington in exchange for a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller, they traded longtime quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington in exchange for a second-round pick and a conditional pick in the year to follow.
As suggested on these pages last week, the decision to move Hill for five draft selections means a major part of this trade is Reid, Veach and the personnel and coaching staff members betting on themselves to properly evaluate draft prospects — and then develop them.
“They do a great job of developing talent, so they got all these picks for Tyreek,” added Smith. “They were trying to get him re-signed because he is so special, but obviously, the numbers didn’t quite make sense, and they decided to make this move, and it’s bold. And again, they’re not going to replace him on offense. You’re just not going to find anyone. You’re not going to find anybody in the draft, out there in free agency that’s going to fill those shoes, so they’re going to have to adjust a little bit offensively.
“But I think the big question is — maybe, as a team, can they be better from it? That cap space, can they go get some other players, maybe on the defensive side of the ball? With those draft picks, can they get some role players to come in and help them this next year? I think that’s the equation they’re trying to make.
“They will not be as explosive as they have been on offense, period, with Tyreek gone. You just can’t — he’s just that kind of player.”