The Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl contenders one again, and the trade deadline has come and gone. For any contender, there is definitely an urge to make moves to continue improving your chances. For the second year in a row, however, the Chiefs were not buyers at the trade deadline.
The Chiefs made one move at the trade deadline, sending DeAndre Washington and a seventh-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for a sixth-round pick.
There wasn’t a ton of action at the trade deadline this year with only role-players being traded during the last few days leading up to the trade deadline. Teams like the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, other Super Bowl contenders, did make moves at the trade deadline, however... So why didn’t the Chiefs?
The Chiefs had plenty of reasons to hold steady, with the biggest reason being that there were simply not great players to trade for. Last year there was a ton of buzz around cornerback Jalen Ramsey being traded and the Chiefs had an apparent need at the position, so the fit made sense all around. Ramsey instead went to the Los Angeles Rams, and after that, there were some solid role players the Chiefs could have looked at, such as Janoris Jenkins.
In 2020 there were fewer quality players available. Of the players actually traded, only a few would have been on the Chiefs' radar.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander was one of the players that would have been interesting for the Chiefs due to his skillset. He is a good coverage linebacker, which is definitely something the Chiefs need, but they have Willie Gay Jr. on the roster to fill that need if the Chiefs feel like he could take some of Ben Niemann's snaps.
Markus Golden and Carlos Dunlap would’ve been interesting additions at defensive end if the Chiefs were worried about the injuries and depth at the position. Both players could’ve been good rotational guys at a cheap cost, but it seems like the Chiefs were never interested.
Desmond King would’ve been an interesting addition to the cornerback room. King seemed to be in the dog house with Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and was an All-Pro two years ago. The issue with King, and with many of the other prospective trade deadline trades for the Chiefs, is that adding him was not a need.
Along with the fact the pool of players available in 2020 was weak, the Chiefs' needs in 2020 just weren’t that dire. In 2019, the Chiefs linebackers were a train wreck and their cornerback room was shallow.
The linebackers are playing better and have a talented rookie in the mix. The cornerbacks are deeper, have more experience, and have a talented rookie of their own. The only position group where it would have made some sense to give up draft capital was along the interior of the offensive line. However, we saw zero interior offensive linemen traded at the deadline and had no reports that any quality interior offensive lineman were on the block. It’s hard to say that any interior lineman were even available for the Chiefs to inquire about.
There is one more stark difference between 2019 and 2020 now that led to the Chiefs' trade deadline being unsurprisingly quiet, and that is Patrick Mahomes’ new contract and the reality of the Chiefs' future salary cap.
While Mahomes’ new contract is definitely team-friendly, his salary cap hits do climb up substantially in the near future. The Chiefs are getting closer to a reality where Mahomes is no longer making ~$5 million per year and instead is making ~$35 million per year. This jump in salary for Mahomes isn’t the end of the Chiefs and their talented roster, but it does need to be planned for. That plan really ramps up in the 2021 offseason.
The Chiefs need to start acquiring a decent number of great, young players soon. The 2020 draft seems like a good start so far, but the momentum needs to keep going. In the near future, expensive veterans like Tyrann Mathieu could walk due to salary cap restrictions and the numbers not working out for an extension. The reason for this is that Mahomes, Chris Jones, and Travis Kelce’s new extensions really squeeze the salary cap the Chiefs will have in 2021 and 2022. The best way to get ahead of the salary cap is draft well and infuse your roster with cheap, young talent to complement the bigger deals.
How does this relate to the trade deadline? Well, the main capital to give up for teams buying at the deadline is draft picks. With the draft picks the Chiefs hold now being more important than ever, the Chiefs would need to get good value on a player to give up draft picks, considering the future of the team's potential salary restrictions. The one trade the Chiefs made shows that they understand that getting more draft capital is paramount for the future.