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While the Chiefs said they kept Patrick Mahomes in the loop during the process, the quarterback admitted Monday that hearing news of the trade getting done was still a bit shocking.
“My initial reaction was a little bit of shock,” Mahomes told reporters. “Even though you knew that this was a possibility, to play with a guy you played and built a friendship with over the last six years, it was definitely something you didn’t want him to leave, more for being able to hang out in the locker room and do that stuff more than the actual on-the-field stuff.”
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
“But you’re happy for him,” Mahomes added. “He got a great contract, obviously. He’s back where he has a house in the offseason around a lot of his family and stuff like that. And I wish the best for him.”
Hill, a six-time Pro Bowler, and three-time All-Pro, had proven to be Mahomes’ top wide-receiver target since 2017. Hill had 479 catches for 6,630 yards and 56 touchdowns in six seasons with the Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) celebrates with teammate quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after catching a 10-yard touchdown pass during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)
On Monday, head coach Andy Reid told reporters that he gave a heads-up to both Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce before making the move. Kelce was drafted by Kansas City in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Since then, he has totaled 9,006 receiving yards, caught 57 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl seven times during his career with the Chiefs.
“Myself and [general manager] Brett [Veach] kept it wide open with Patrick as part of playing that position,” Reid said. “There’s a pretty good chance there’s change [that’s] gonna take place throughout your career, and so that’s all part of it.”
“I also mentioned it to [Kelce] just so he had a heads-up on it, too. Those guys are very close. The three of them have had a lot of production for us,” the coach added. “But it’s important that they see that part of it. That’s part of this game, and change does take place. You beat around the bush on it, I don’t think that’s good either. I’m kind of upfront [and] this is the plan going forward.”
To fill the void left by Hill, the Chiefs signed wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling during the offseason. The team also has speedy wide receiver Mecole Hardman on the roster, who Reid said has the ability to run with the ball in his hands.
Smith-Schuster spent five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers after the team selected him 62nd overall in the 2017 NFL draft. He had a breakout season in 2018, catching 111 passes for 1426 yards, but has failed to match that production ever since.
In four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Valdes-Scantling caught 123 passes for 2,153 yards and 13 touchdowns. Last season, he totaled just 430 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games.
“We’ve got to keep rolling, that’s just kind of how it is in this league,” Mahomes said. “It’s a business as much as it is about your friendships and stuff like that. We know that in order to have success in this league, you have to keep evolving and keep getting better. I got with these new receivers as quickly as possible to try and build that, so we can have success right when we get going this year.”
Following the additions — and loss of Hill — Reid said that he didn’t expect the Chiefs’ offense to be “significantly different.”
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill reacts after an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“It will be similar to what we did in the games that Tyreek couldn’t play in,” Reid noted. “There were certain things that he did very well that we’ll have people try to fill in those spots without forcing anything. What we normally do on this is we try to play to the players’ strengths the best we can, so we’ll see with some of the new guys, what they can do. And then we’ll work around that.”
The Chiefs could also select a wide receiver in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. The team holds two first-round picks in the draft next week at No. 29 and No. 30.