Rashod Bateman could be pre-draft trade candidate for KC Chiefs

If the Chiefs wanted to entertain an option on the trade block heading into the NFL Draft, Rashod Bateman could be a possibility.
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

With the 2024 NFL Draft just days away at this point, everyone's focus is on who their team will be selecting in the draft and the hype will be there for every team's new set players well beyond this weekend's festivities. However, it's easy to forget that there are still plenty of free agents available and even trade candidates who will emerge before and even after the draft once roster situations become more clear.

There are always a couple of names each year who get dealt right before or during the draft for one reason or another. One name that has emerged as a potential pre-draft trade candidate is Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman. The former first-round pick has struggled to establish himself as a reliable receiver so far in his career, and because of that he could find himself on a different team before everything is said and done according to several outlets including Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post.

It's not too surprising to hear Bateman's name being floated in trade rumors at this point given he's heading into year four and still has a ton of question marks surrounding him. The Ravens have looked everywhere for receiver help the past few years since bringing in Bateman, as he's done little to calm their concerns. Through three seasons, Bateman has caught just 93 passes for 1,167 yards and 4 touchdowns and has struggled to stay healthy.

A change of scenery could be useful for a player like Bateman who needs some work done on his body, but still carries a ton of potential. A team like Kansas City that needs wide receiver help could be inclined to inquire about Bateman.

The Need

It's pretty obvious why the Kansas City Chiefs would be interested in a veteran receiver. It was by far the weakest position on the team in 2023. Many people feel like they should still add another veteran receiver already, but that idea is only emphasized by the fact Rashee Rice looks likely to miss some time next year due to a suspension.

Many of us expect the Chiefs to draft at least one receiver in this year's draft, but rookies are rookies, and bringing in a veteran such as Bateman who only has a year left on his rookie deal (5th-year option aside) wouldn't be much of an issue as far as numbers go. At worst, Bateman could be quality competition for what the Chiefs already have or decide to bring in from this point forward.

It's also worth noting that Kansas City did inquire about Pittsburgh's Diontae Johnson earlier this season, showing that they are open to trading for a veteran wide receiver.

The Cost

Any time a team is looking to cut ties, or even rumored to be cutting ties with a player, they won't cost much to acquire. Despite being a former first-round pick, Bateman feels like a player that wouldn't fetch more than a conditional third in a trade which is about what Kadarius Toney went for a couple of years ago who was also a former first-rounder. Then again, Toney had more years of team control so Bateman should cost even less.

If Bateman is in fact, traded before the NFL Draft, you would think the Ravens would want a pick they can use in this year's draft to recoup the asset, but if they're truly looking to offload him, they may have to accept a pick in next year's draft. Perhaps, the Chiefs could offer that 4th round pick they received from the Tennessee Titans for L'Jarius Sneed—or something later. The Ravens could always wait and see how things play out after the draft, too, and then maybe that pick comes into play.

One thing that you have to consider here, though, is that this is the Ravens. They might not be willing to deal with Kansas City or may demand a premium be paid if they were to deal with Kansas City. Yes, they were willing to deal Orlando Brown to the Chiefs a couple of years ago, but a heartbreaking loss in last season's AFC Championship game at the hands of Kansas City may have changed some things.

The Fit

The fit here is pretty high. It's a former first-rounder that general manager Brett Veach loves getting his hands on. Furthermore, Bateman was once believed to hold plenty of pro potential. Yes, the injuries at this point have held him back, but Bateman has shown flashes when healthy including the ability to get separation, which is something Kansas City's wide receivers were not particularly good at last season.

Not only does Bateman have some redeeming traits, but he also fills a pretty specific need for Kansas City. They not only need a wide receiver, but one who can play the "X" receiver position. Rice produces in the slot and Hollywood Brown is more of a "Z" receiver and gadget guy. Bateman, if healthy, would be the perfect compliment to those two, plus whatever rookie the Chiefs decide to bring in to learn behind those three.

The only pushback to adding Bateman would be that he creates a logjam because you still have Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore under contract, but the truth is none of those guys should prevent you from bringing in talent if there's an opportunity to do so. There's also the fear that Bateman would just be a waste of another mid-round pick like Kadarius Toney was because of untapped potential and injury issues, but Bateman has already produced way more than Kadarius Toney at this point and he'd likely be much less of a headache.

Bateman does come with some risks, but it's an upside play that could pay dividends for the Kansas City Chiefs as they look to rebuild their wide receiver corps for the 2024 season.