The Chiefs wide receiver depth chart is going to be missing a familiar face in 2022. Mainstay Tyreek Hill was traded to the Dolphins after contract extension talks stalled, meaning Patrick Mahomes has some fresh faces in the wide receiver room this season.
While tight end Travis Kelce is still in play this season, meaning Mahomes is far from hamstrung, the other receivers he’s throwing to are almost completely new. Byron Pringle departed for Chicago, while Mecole Hardman stayed in Kansas City, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and rookie Skyy Moore will look to replicate Kansas City’s incredible offensive production with Hill.
The loss of Hill is significant any way you slice it. He’s a two-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler who spent five seasons with Mahomes. In those years, he racked up over 6,000 yards and 50 touchdowns, second-most in the past five years behind Davante Adams. He’s fourth in yards behind Adams, Kelce, and DeAndre Hopkins.
The Sporting News explores what his loss means for the Chiefs offense in 2022, and how the other receivers will fare with Mahomes — not to mention what it means for Mahomes himself.
Who are the 2022 Chiefs receivers?
Without Hill and Pringle, the Chiefs are rolling out a very different look for next season. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were poached in free agency from the Steelers and Packers, respectively, and they join veteran Hardman and rookie Skyy Moore.
In other words, for the Chiefs, it takes a village to replace Hill. Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling will ostensibly be the top two targets in Kansas City, but don’t expect to see Kelce’s production diminish. Josh Gordon is also an X-factor in this equation, but his lack of production over the years could lead to him being a camp body.
It’s a longshot Gordon makes the roster, but after the top four in KC it’s a bit of a crapshoot.
Chiefs projected 2022 receivers career stats
Valdes-Scantling’s catch percentage with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball is, frankly, a bit alarming, but perhaps Mahomes and the Chiefs offense can make things work a little better.
Hardman should actually see a lot more opportunity in this makeup. A top-level threat who can stretch a defense, he might actually start to see a lot of Hill’s downfield touches, whereas Valdes-Scantling and Smith-Schuster do better in short to intermediate routes. They should also be effective in the red zone, where both are adept at using space (or lack thereof) to their advantage.
Who are the Chiefs losing?
The Chiefs are, of course, losing a lot of production, and not just in Hill.
Pringle was picked up by the Bears after breaking out for over 500 yards in 2021, no small feat in that Kansas City offense. So in terms of who they’re getting back, the Chiefs’ main returning producer is Kelce.
Tyreek Hill and Byron Pringle career stats
The Chiefs are clearly banking on their MVP-level quarterback being able to replicate his production no matter who he’s throwing to. The Chiefs were second in the NFL in passing last year, trailing only Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling will likely fight for the lion’s share of targets outside of Kelce, but the hope for the Chiefs is undoubtedly they’ll be able to equal one Hill. That’s a tall order for KC, but if anyone is up to the task of fulfilling it, it’s Mahomes.