The Kansas City Chiefs have a problem on their hands.
After moving on from veterans Tyreek Hill and JuJu Smith-Schuster in consecutive offseasons, Patrick Mahomes' new-look receiving corps looked far from ready for prime time, offering up a dreadful performance in the Chiefs' 21-20 opening night loss to the Detroit Lions.
Kadarius Toney had the kind of night, dropping three passes with one intercepted by Lions rookie safety Brian Branch and returned for a touchdown, that could bury him at the bottom of the depth chart from this moment forward.
However, on the heels of a season in which Chiefs receivers accounted for only 13 touchdown receptions, it becomes fair to wonder not only if now seemingly constant turnover at the position might finally be becoming an issue for Mahomes, but also if the Chiefs will look to add help at the position. Especially given the razor-thin margin for error in the AFC gauntlet.
How alarming was the performance from the Chiefs' receiving corps on opening night? Toney and Skyy Moore, whom Kansas City seemingly hoped would emerge as Mahomes' top receivers combined for just one reception against the Lions.
If nothing else, Thursday night should serve as a wakeup call for the defending champs.
"I don't know if they'll panic just yet," an NFC executive told FanBuzz, on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. "Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross are still young, so I'd think they'll see where that goes with them. But, Kadarius Toney's the real wild card — they may have gotten burned on him."
Kansas City proved they could win a Super Bowl with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Smith-Schuster, and Hardman as Mahomes' primary receivers. While Moore, Toney, Rice, and Ross might ultimately develop, if this is a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations it is fair to wonder if they can afford to be patient with their young receivers this season.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach acquired Toney, a former first-round draft pick, in a midseason trade with the Giants last fall. Might Kansas City once again go shopping for veteran help, given the underwhelming performance from their young receivers at the onset of a title defense season?
Multiple league sources tell FanBuzz that the wide receiver trade market has been quiet for the past several weeks, and few "concrete" options are currently available. But, if Veach is looking to upgrade, there are several receivers worth inquiring about for the Chiefs.
Here's a look at three possible trade candidates the Chiefs could pursue:
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It's probably a bit of a longshot that the Buccaneers wind up trading Mike Evans, but, the two sides have set a deadline of opening weekend to reach an agreement on a long-term contract, so anything is possible.
Evans is a proven commodity with a Super Bowl ring on his finger, along with 683 career receptions for 10,425 yards and 81 touchdowns. It isn't difficult to imagine just how much more prolific the Chiefs' passing game would become with Evans as part of Mahomes' supporting cast, alongside All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce. For Evans, landing with the Chiefs would represent his best chance to chase a second ring, and for Kansas City, Mahomes would regain some of the big-play explosiveness lost when Tyreek Hill was dealt to the Miami Dolphins last spring.
Dyami Brown, WR, Washington Commanders
If sure-handedness is what the Chiefs are after, Dyami Brown is an ideal fit, with plenty of upside.
Brown, 23, was only targeted 12 times last season, finishing the 2022 campaign with five catches for 143 yards with a pair of touchdowns. But, for Kansas City's purposes, what makes Brown an intriguing trade target is the fact that he didn't drop a single pass and Commanders quarterbacks posted a 126 passer rating when looking in his direction, and he averaged 6.2 yards after the catch per reception. Given the Commanders' quality depth at the position, and that Brown is looking up at Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, and Curtis Samuel, he might just be expendable, and could be the kind of developmental receiver the Chiefs ultimately wind up building around.
Ray-Ray McCloud, San Francisco 49ers
McCloud seems to fit the profile of how the Chiefs deploy their wide receivers.
Not only is the 26-year-old veteran one season removed from averaging 7.1 yards per reception, but he is also a reliable contributor in the return game, and boasts a career 13.5 yards per carry average with one rushing touchdown. While McCloud isn't a difference-maker by any stretch of the imagination, his versatility and experience might be exactly what the Chiefs' receiving corps needs to buy some time to find its footing, while also being the type of player who Andy Reid can move around in his mad scientist lab of trick play creation.
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