The much-maligned receiver who should return to the Chiefs in 2024

Now that the Chris Jones deal is done, the Kansas City Chiefs will need to be extremely cap-conscious. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney had a forgettable 2023 season, but the Chiefs must consider all angles while reconstructing their highly criticized wide receiver room.

Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade
Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The day is here with the start of free agency, and Kansas City Chiefs fans are on the edge of their seats to discover how Brett Veach and his team will revamp the wide receiver room.

Last week's re-signings of defensive tackle Chris Jones and linebacker Drue Tranquill each made a lot of sense for the team. But those two deals (compounded with the $19.8 million franchise tag number for free agent cornerback L'Jarius Sneed) put a lot of pressure on the Chiefs' salary cap in 2024.

Veach and company have already begun looking for places in which they can save a few dollars: Marquez Valdes-Scantling has already been relieved from his contract in 2024. Many anticipate the Chiefs could offload others from the much-maligned corps of pass catchers that arguably cost the Chiefs multiple victories in the regular season last year.

The Chiefs can save $2.7 million by cutting Justin Watson this spring. Though Watson contributed some in the downfield passing game last season, this is an area in which the Chiefs can trim some fat off the salary cap. Another player who was a project in past seasons is Justyn Ross. Though he showed glimmers of potential in the summer of 2023, Ross failed to capitalize on his opportunity during the regular season. A mid-season suspension certainly didn't help his case.

Skyy Moore is certainly on thin ice. The third-year receiver suffered in 2023, racking up just 244 yards in 8 starts. He has a shot to contend for a role on the back end of the depth chart in 2024, but Moore is still just 23 years old and might still be viewed as a project for a team that liked him coming out of college. If the Chiefs could float Moore for a Day 3 pick, they should. Otherwise, he's no lock to make the roster this season.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney had a forgettable 2023 season, but the Chiefs must consider all angles while reconstructing their highly criticized wide receiver room.

This brings us to Kadarius Toney. The former Florida Gator arrived via trade in the fall of 2022 and contributed to the Chiefs' Super Bowl run that season. One could certainly argue the Chiefs would not have beaten the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII without Toney's record-setting punt return and touchdown catch. However, Toney soured in 2023, beginning on day 1 of training camp. A leg injury kept Toney sidelined for all of the Chiefs' preseason, and the much-hyped former first-round pick squandered almost the entire campaign, totaling just 169 receiving yards on the season.

But there is reason to keep Toney around in 2024. First, Toney's ceiling greatly exceeds that of any aforementioned player. Though his contributions were a huge letdown as the perceived #1 receiver in 2023, Toney still has game-breaking talents that no other player on the roster has.

Furthermore, there is the issue of the just-turned-25-year-old's contract. Though Toney is due $2.5 million in 2024, the Chiefs would gain nothing—zero—by cutting him this offseason. So even if Veach decides to move on, the team would still have to pay for a replacement.

Yes, Toney provided some maddening drops last season, but that has to be compartmentalized when looking forward. The fact is the Chiefs have an electrifying athlete on the roster that they can put at the back of the depth chart at no cost, or they can let him go and then have to pay to replace him.

The Chiefs will likely make at least one move in free agency at the position, if not more. You could do a lot worse than a wide receiver room consisting of second-year pro Rashee Rice, a dependable free agent, a draft pick, Toney, and Nikko Remigio in 2024.

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