Historically, the NFL trade deadline has been a lackluster event. I remember many years when ESPN would run a special NFL Countdown episode for the last few hours of the Tuesday trade deadline. The show is usually a panel of analysts discussing possible trade scenarios and players on the trade block. Usually, a couple of depth-piece offensive or defensive linemen get moved for late-day three conditional picks. It is far from exhilarating television.
This year, however, seems to be different. So far, we have seen big names like Christian McCaffery, Robbie Anderson, James Robinson, and Robert Quinn on the move. These moves all come a few days before the Tuesday afternoon trade deadline. Fresh faces in new places give fantasy football fans plenty to discuss. One of the most significant moves this week was Kadarius Toney from the New York Giants to the Kansas City Chiefs. Let’s take a look at how this affects both rosters.
The Kadarius Toney Trade
Thursday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs made a move to improve their offense for the 2022 season and beyond. Kansas City sent a conditional third and sixth-round pick in exchange for the second-year player. Former Giants general manager David Gettleman drafted Kadarius Toney in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft with the 20th overall pick. At the time, many draft pundits questioned this pick. There were many questions surrounding his lack of college production.
Kadarius Toney broke out his season year at Florida, but before that year never topped 260 receiving yards in a single season. Initially recruited to Florida as a quarterback, he found his way on the field as a receiver and special team contributor. Toney used his breakout year and tremendous athletic testing to propel himself into the first round. Many have questioned this pick by Gettleman, but it was generally agreed upon that he wouldn’t make it past the second round.
In his short NFL career, Toney has struggled to see the field. He only played ten games his rookie year, and through seven weeks of the NFL season, he was only dressed and ready for two of them. His big breakout game came last year against the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, he commanded 13 targets which he converted into ten receptions and 189 yards. Things can’t work out perfectly for Toney, however. He eventually punched a Cowboys player and was ejected, ending his day.
How This Changes This Year’s Projections
What the Kansas City Chiefs are getting is a highly athletic playmaker who comes with a bit of an injury history. With Super Bowl expectations for this year, this is a risk the Chiefs must be willing to take. Rookie Skyy Moore has struggled to catch on in this offense, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling carries some injury risk himself. If healthy, Toney would be an immediate contributor in three wide receiver sets.
Has Andy Reid finally found his Tyreek Hill replacement? That headline was lighting the fantasy world on fire back in 2019. Mecole Hardman was drafted in the second round that year. Tyreek Hill was under investigation for child endangerment and was facing a possible suspension for those who do not remember. Hardman was drafted around this time, and the connection seemed obvious. As we have learned with Hardman, we will see with Toney. Replacing Tyreek Hill is impossible, as he is genuinely a one-of-one talent.
For the rest of 2022, we will see Toney gradually working into this offense. The Chiefs are currently on bye, giving them plenty of time to adjust the playbook. Toney could take on a role similar to what Mecole Hardman does now, and we can see the two swapped out from drive to drive. I don’t see a world where Toney competes with Smith-Schuster for his position. Toney will produce weekly WR3 numbers with a few top-five overall boom weeks. If your team is strong and starts three or more wide receivers, Toney will make an excellent weekly FLEX play.
How This Shapes The Future of the Chiefs
The more interesting discussion is how this affects the Kansas City Chiefs beyond 2022. In 2023, the Patrick Mahomes cap hit balloons from $35 million to almost $47 million, and it will continue to rise in 2024 and beyond. Making money-saving moves will be vitally important to any sustained success. The Toney trade gives Kansas City another cheap contract that provides club options on how to delegate money moving forward.
Kadarius Toney’s cap hit will never break the $2.5 million mark throughout the rest of his rookie deal. In addition, the team will have a fifth-year option on the contract that will come in much cheaper than any free-agent wide receiver deals in the 2025 season. Both Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be free agents this offseason. This trade signals the end of Hardman’s time in Kansas City. As for Smith-Schuster, he is still chasing that one big contract before his career is over. That is something that Kansas City will have a hard time delivering on.
The Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver room will look as follows in the 2023 season. You will have Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore as starters and, most likely, a highly drafted rookie joining them. Marques Valdes-Scantling will be almost 29 this offseason and can be cut for a minimal dead cap hit. This signals that if you believe in the talent that Toney possesses, you should buy now before people realize he can be the Chiefs’ WR1.
How The Giants Will Operate Moving Forward
The other side of this trade is the New York Football Giants. The Giants have a new coaching staff and front office with zero ties to any players from the Gettleman era. And they proved that in spades this past week. To them, Toney was an overdrafted player who was providing no value to them. They got even a third out of the deal, which is a huge win. How they will operate after this deal will be pretty interesting.
I wonder if the Giants expected to be so successful this early in the year, and we could see them as buyers in the next few days. The additional third gives them plenty of draft capital to go out and bring in another receiver that can contribute. Some players to look at include Chase Claypool, Brandin Cooks, and even a free agent like Will Fuller. The other elephant in the Giants’ wide receiver room is Kenny Golladay. Golladay has played a bare minimum this season, and it is pretty apparent that his time in New York is done. The only issue is that he carries a potential $20 million dead cap hit if moved. Golladay may continue to rot in New York for the rest of the season and is borderline droppable in dynasty leagues.
Usually, a player departing leaves numerous vacated targets left behind but considering Toney only had three targets so far this year, that isn’t true. What this does signal is confidence in rookie Wan’Dale Robinson. I believe he will be the primary beneficiary going forward and will have quite the breakout year from this point on. His price is still obtainable, and I suggest making a move for him before Sunday’s shootout with the Seattle Seahawks.
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