The Kelce Conundrum: Looking at the Chiefs' future without the star tight end

With Travis Kelce facing a couple of injuries early this season and a budding romance off the field, what does the future without our favorite Hall of Fame tight end look like in Kansas City, and how can they prepare for his eventual retirement?

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

With all the Taylor Swift drama surrounding our favorite Hall of Fame tight end, it got me thinking: is Travis Kelce starting to envision a future after football? It was only reinforced when, in a recent pre-game interview, Kelce mentioned an interest in pursuing a possible acting career after having enjoyed his time on SNL, commercials, etc. We all know how great he is on the field, but does this foretell an intent to retire?

Chiefs Kingdom saw one game without Kelce and, frankly, it's a scary prospect. Patrick Mahomes's favorite security blanket's absence from the field left a huge hole in the offense. Not only that, but he has had a couple of dings this season (knee, ankle) and we need to make sure we are protecting the most important receiving threat for the Chiefs.

Looking in-house at a post-Kelce future

So how does the organization plan now for a future without Kelce? Here are some ideas:

First, we have to look in-house. Noah Gray has been on the roster since he was their fifth-round pick of the 2021 draft. At 6'3", 240 lbs., he has flashed in instances when targeted by Mahomes. He has a big play-making ability when given the opportunity but seems (rightly so) overlooked in favor of Kelce.

With Kelce getting older (and I say this knowing we are basically the same age), could we see the Chiefs try and control Kelce's snaps in favor of giving them to Gray?

It's an interesting thought. Gray clearly has Mahomes's trust and looks like, with experience, he is becoming more confident. Can we turn to him (and maybe the addition of a true WR1) to fill the Kelce-sized hole that could be coming? I think I need to see more snaps before I definitively say this is the way forward, but there is promise.

Considering trades to help post-Kelce

Next, let's look at potential trades. Kyle Pitts, like Noah Gray, is a product of the 2021 draft. He, however, was selected 4th overall by the Falcons. Unbelievably, it appears that the Falcons forgot about the amount of talent this man possesses. He is underutilized and seems to have a problem fitting into their scheme.

On a team that is destined to go nowhere this season, with no clear quarterback of the future (because Desmond Ridder ain't it), would it make sense for the Chiefs to make a trade? They could provide the Falcons with draft assets they could use to package and move up to get their QB1.

Doing something like this only helps the Chiefs. Think about it. You get first-round talent who is given the opportunity to restart with the best quarterback on the planet. Plus, you take a top-shelf quarterback OUT of the AFC. I never fear the unknown, but does the AFC really need yet another great QB? Come on. I love the idea of this 6'6", 247 lb. tight end on the Chiefs roster. I bet he would love it too.

Drafting the next Kelce?

Finally, let me have my fun with an Iowa tight end whose stock probably dropped with his recent season-ending injury. Luke Lachey was on track to be Iowa's best offensive weapon out of a university known for producing high-quality, great tight ends (think George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Sam LaPorta). Then, he suffered a season-ending injury that resulted in an Iowa team my husband can't stomach watching but an interesting prospect.

Lachey is big-bodied, strong, and tough. He has sure hands and is quick for his size. At 6'6", 253 lbs., the junior could (in theory) enter the draft. Will he be drafted as high as he would have been without the injury? No. But, I'd like to think he'll read this article, the Chiefs will similarly read this, and then through some sort of telepathy, understand each other and he will end up a Chief. I know, it's wishful thinking, but imagine him in a similar Travis Kelce-type projection. Has a slow start and then becomes an anchor of the offense. I personally love this.

Regardless of the direction the Chiefs choose, they need to start planning for the future and making sure the best quarterback in football has players around him who can fill the inevitable void left behind when Kelce retires.

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