On Thursday the Kansas City Chiefs acquired wide receiver Kadarius Toney from the New York Giants for two draft picks, including a conditional third rounder in 2023.
This is a somewhat bizarre transaction for multiple reasons, but perhaps most notably the Giants selected Toney with the 20th overall pick out of the University of Florida literally 18 months ago. Hampered by injuries, er, apparent injuries, he played in just 12 of a possible 24 games for the Giants over the last two seasons. In that span he caught 41 passes (on 60 targets) for 420 yards and never recorded a touchdown.
The fact that he has played in just two games in 2022, and caught two passes for a combined zero yards, suggests his marriage with New York was not a pleasant one. His former organization this year pawned it off to a hamstring injury, but given his tweet in the embedded article above I think it’s pretty safe to assume he and the Giants have been looking for an opportunity to part ways.
There is also the Chiefs end of things. They went to great lengths this offseason to replace one of the best playmakers in the NFL, Tyreek Hill, with a compendium of wide receivers — including veterans Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, along with rookie second round pick Skyy Moore — to compensate for the missing production. Thus far the experiment has been at the very least adequate. Kansas City is 5-2 and leads the NFL in scoring at 31.9 points per game.
But it is telling that out of every position on the field the Chiefs decided to leverage the November 1st trade deadline to address wide receiver. They didn’t add a pass rusher to load up on a lukewarm defensive line. They don’t appear interested in upgrading a fairly average running back room. And they didn’t want to add a veteran tackle to shore up the right side of their offensive line. Wide receiver. That’s what they went with.
I don’t know if it’s telling — in the sense that they aren’t confident in what they have — or if they view it as an opportunity that was too good to pass up. I mean, after all, Kadarius Toney is still just 23 years old, in his second year in the league, and has the pedigree of one of the best receivers in his draft class. There’s a chance that the Chiefs are simply playing the futures game and setting themselves up to replace Mecole Hardman next year. There’s also the chance that they utilize this bye week to generate various packages for Toney and plan to use him critically for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.
What I do know is that Kansas City, so long as they are good, don’t have a ton of chances to get their hands on premium first round talents. When you are constantly drafting in the late-20’s and, god willing, 30’s each year, you have to get the best you can of what’s left.
Kadarius Toney has an insane highlight reel from his college days, and proved last season that he has the ability to take over football games when the ball is in his hands. Granted, last year he was hamstrung with a really shitty team. His best game, against the Cowboys, the Giants were buried and had to throw shit against the wall for most of the day. But it did show that Kadarius has the skills to do big things.
I’m skeptical that this trade will pay immediate dividends, or even be worthwhile for the rest of the 2022 season. On principle, however, I like that the Chiefs are constantly looking to add talent where they can find it. As an absolute best-case scenario, Toney becomes a jumbo version of Mecole Hardman — a gadget player who Kansas City finds moments to get the ball in his hands. The only real downside, if there is one, would be if he doesn’t see much playing time and we have to wait until next year to see him.