How does Patrick Mahomes’ injury affect the Chiefs trade deadline plans?

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 17: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tended to by trainers after sustaining an injury in the second quarter of a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 17: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs is tended to by trainers after sustaining an injury in the second quarter of a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 17, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

How does the injury to quarterback Patrick Mahomes change the Kansas City Chiefs plans for the NFL trade deadline on October 29?

Even as recently as 24 hours ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were a team bound to make a big splash in the very near future as the NFL trade deadline approached. October 29 is the date that teams have to wrap up any trade hopes for the rest of the year, and the Chiefs were a team with the Super Bowl hopes and salary cap space to make something happen. Add a dash of general manager Brett Veach’s aggressiveness and you had the expectation that the Chiefs would do something.

But in the blink of any eye on Thursday night in Denver, all of those postseason plans for a February stop in Miami came crashing to a halt—at least temporarily. During the second quarter of the Chiefs Week 7 win over the Broncos, quarterback Patrick Mahomes suffered an apparent knee dislocation. While early reports attempted to predict how long Mahomes would be out, the reality is that a scheduled MRI will make clear how long the Chiefs will be without the reigning MVP.

If the early indications are correct and Mahomes only misses a few games, the injury should change nothing about how the team approaches the trade deadline. For simplicity’s sake in our discussion, let’s assume that Mahomes misses the next four games and is out until after Kansas City’s bye week.

First, Kansas City can/will weather a four game stretch without their star quarterback and still contend for a playoff spot, the division title, a first round bye, a conference championship, and yes, even a Super Bowl. The Chiefs were never going to go 16-0, and as long as they’re healthy in December-January, the sky is still the limit.

In the next four weeks, a Mahomes-less Chiefs team could easily go 0-4. They play the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans and L.A> Chargers over that stretch of the schedule. The Packers and Vikings, frankly, may be considered losses without the MVP under center. Both have been mildly inconsistent this season, but both franchises also have defenses strong enough to significantly and effectively stop a Matt Moore led Chiefs attack.

Even if Thursday night’s defensive effort was the real deal, it is difficult to imagine the offense putting up enough points to be competitive against Aaron Rodgers and Dalvin Cook. The team could absolutely defeat the Titans and/or Chargers, but both have solid defenses and a running attack that could give the Chiefs’ defense fits.

However, in a sloppy AFC featuring the Patriots and then everyone else, these Chiefs are still the favorites to win the West given the state of the rest of the division. That’s enough to get into the postseason where every team hits reset. If the Chiefs are able to steal two of these next four games, certainly a chance to win 11 games is in the cards and this Chiefs team could competefor a first round bye to boot. The point is: a four game stretch without Mahomes will be difficult for the team but it does nothing to alter the end goal for this team.

Second, it is important to signal to the rest of the team, the fans, and Mahomes himself that this team is not throwing in the towel in his absence. This is not only true financially (the team needs to continue to fill the seats and sell merchandise), but it’s more important for the overall morale of the team. Continuing to operate as if this team is pursuing a Super Bowl championship (and it should be) is imperative to keeping the team hungry and working towards that end.

If a team with obvious holes on the roster stands pat at the deadline, the message they’re sending the team is that they are not working to improve—e.g. that they’ve settled in with where they’re at. With a defense that has already demonstrated the tendency to get hot or cold depending on how motivated they are, making a couple of big deadline deals is assuredly one of the best ways to work to get the team moving in the same direction in December/January.

Finally, it is important to remember that this team still has holes to fill. The offensive line is still in a relatively rough spot (though it looked pretty good against Von Miller and the vaunted Bronco front on Thursday), the defensive line in thin and still missing two key contributors, the linebacking corps (despite the Bronco game) is still suspect, and the team still needs depth (at least) at corner and tight end. LeSean McCoy looked okay running the ball last night, but Damien Williams looks lost on the field. The team could use a power running back. Filling holes and creating depth is imperative.

The Patrick Mahomes injury is sad for this Chiefs team, but it’s not a death knell. The offense will be a shell of itself without the best player in football leading the charge, but the injury does not end the season. Depending on the results of the MRI, if Mahomes can return in a matter of weeks, it should change nothing about how Kansas City prepares for the trade deadline.

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