A Complete Guide To The Tyreek Hill Trade: A Prelude

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Despite what most think, an NFL trade is not a singular event. Yes, the terms of the agreement are in place and finalized, but the impacts are long reaching and could last for a decade.

So this will be a series (yes, a series!) examining the overall value of the trade, what the Chiefs ultimately gave up and what they gained.

In this first part, we’ll look at it before a single draft pick gets used, laying the foundation for how we should evaluate it moving forward.

Hill’s Contract

First up is analyzing the contract itself. We need to be careful in our definitions and how we do the comparisons, as different definitions can dramatically change the final answer.

The best way to analyze the contract is to presume that, had the Chiefs offered Hill the contract the Dolphins ultimately gave him, he would still be a Chief. So our comparison is to that alternate reality, and what happened, where we gave up Hill and that contract and received draft picks.

That looks something like this (we’ll add in the draft picks in a second).

Chiefs TakethChiefs GivethNet Cap Gain
YearCap HitCap HitNet Cap Gain
202206.2354.785
2023031.231.2
2024024.86524.865
2025028.03528.035
202605.15.1

The first thing that’s interesting is that the cap space gained in 2022 is way less in this analysis than what we gained in reality. That’s because the contract the Dolphins gave him (which is what we’re comparing to) pushed some of that money back.

But an important note is Hill’s last year in 2026. You might notice that my number of $5.1 million is very different from OverTheCap‘s $50.1 million. That’s not a typo, it’s just an assumption based on reality. There is absolutely no way the Dolphins are going to be paying Hill $50 million unless he converts to quarterback, and starts throwing 40 touchdowns a year. Once we get to that point it will get complicated, but for our intents and purposes he will essentially be a free agent, and the Dolphins will lose his services but have to eat his dead money (at least as far as this analysis is concerned).

The Draft Picks

A common refrain when a big name gets traded is that none of the draft picks are likely to live up to the abilities of a guy like Hill, and this is true. But they forget one thing. Draft picks aren’t just a player.

Draft picks are a player and a contract.

That’s really what makes draft picks valuable. They’re really no different than signing a player in free agency. What gives draft picks value is that those players have no choice but to sign with you, but are also forced to sign cheap deals.

This gives teams who can successfully build through the draft a huge edge over the competition. But for this analysis, it actually works against us, as we don’t get to use all of that cap space we got from not signing Hill on free agents. Some of it will go to draft picks.

Chiefs TakethChiefs GivethNet Cap Gain
Year2022 #292022 #502022 #1212023 4th2023 6thTotal Cap HitCap HitNet Cap Gain
20222.51.3850.925--4.816.2351.425
20233.1231.7311.090.9340.767.63831.223.562
20243.752.0771.2051.0990.9259.05624.86515.809
20254.3722.4241.321.2141.0410.3728.03517.665
20261.3291.1552.4845.12.616

I got these numbers from OverTheCap’s estimates. It doesn’t include the 5th year option for pick 29, and I also had to guesstimate a bit on the 2023 picks (since we won’t know those numbers until next year). But overall these should be pretty close.

In 2022, we actually lose a bit of cap space once draft picks are included. But you can still see the effect of the contract, as the difference is huge after this year.

This is a really important point. Even if Hill is worth more than all the players we end up drafting with those picks combined, the trade could still be worth it for the Chiefs, since that extra cap space also results in more players.

Simplifying

Alright, so we get cap space on top of draft picks. What does that mean exactly? Tyreek Hill caught a lot of touchdown passes. I’ve never seen cap space catch a touchdown pass.

To make this comparison a little easier, let’s add in a couple free agent signings to show the practical effect of that cap space.

Chiefs TakethChiefs Giveth
Marquez Valdes-ScantlingTyreek Hill
Justin Reid
2022 #29
2022 #50
2022 #121
2023 4th
2023 6th

When you do all of the accounting, it comes out to roughly these 7 players for Tyreek Hill (the nitpickers among you can see the full numbers below). Will any of these 7 players be as good as Hill? Probably not. But they don’t have to be. All they have to do is contribute more all together to make the trade worth it. I’d say that’s very likely.

Chiefs TakethChiefs GivethNet Cap Gain
Year2022 #292022 #502022 #1212023 4th2023 6thJustin ReidMarquez Valdes-ScantlingTotal Cap HitCap HitNet Cap Gain
20222.51.3850.925--4.554.8814.246.235-8.005
20233.1231.7311.090.9340.7612.71137.30631.2-0.138
20243.752.0771.2051.0990.92514.25149.05624.865-12.441
20254.3722.4241.321.2141.0410.3728.03517.665
20261.3291.1552.4845.12.616
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Berserker
03/31/2022 4:24 pm

I like it.

Whenever the Chiefs make their next trade or signing and you update your players-for-Hill chart, you should take Justin Reid’s name off that chart completely, since the Chiefs were signing him before and regardless of the Hill trade. Same reason you don’t have Juju’s name on there.

It’d be interesting to see which players our new starter(s) from the Hill trade are displacing. What I mean is, you could say that MVS is displacing Pringle or DRob, since Hill made it possible to sign a player at MVS’ level rather than settling for a lower level player.

That last suggestion really goes to your idea that “all these players together contribute more” than Hill. Because if the Chiefs had kept Hill and therefor couldn’t afford MVS, they’d still have put another WR out there…they wouldn’t have played with 10 on offense, right? So the real value is in how much better our new Hill-enabled players are than the scrubs that we would’ve been fielding otherwise.

Berserker
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/31/2022 5:04 pm

Ha, yeah, I had actually typed “if when we get Bradberry or Gilmore,” but deleted it for seeming long-winded.

For alternate players, some might be tougher to call than others. But I think it’s safe to put either Pringle’s or DRob’s name beside MVS’ as a comp, because the Chiefs would’ve been pretty much forced to sign a player of their level without Hill’s cap space to work with. So…maybe start with the probable cap hit range and then just pick a name in that range who isn’t some kind of outlier?

Or, thinking about CB, another way to approach it – Bradberry (or Gilmore) pushes everybody down the depth chart, right? So you could say that Bradberry (or Gilmore) replaces Fenton, AND Fenton replaces Baker, and add both those improvements to the positives column.

Berserker
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/31/2022 5:45 pm

Yeah, I think just as long as the comparison is reasonable and recent (i.e. using DRob or Pringle instead of some scrub from another team who’s totally equivalent but unknown to KC fans), it will paint a picture that’s probably 80-90% accurate.

hoosierchief
03/31/2022 11:58 am

If the draft choices pan out, you would likely have cap space gains as the draftees’ rookie contracts displace more expensive contracts.

NovaChiefs
Reply to  hoosierchief
03/31/2022 1:26 pm

There is the “potential” for this to be KC’s Hershel Walker trade. Trade an absolute stud, get a chance to build the future

Nasrani
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/31/2022 11:38 am

Live look at Tony monitoring the draft/trade to type more articles:

comment image

Nasrani
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/31/2022 11:50 am

One is for monitoring the trade and the other is for chess videos on YouTube… the secret is out.

NovaChiefs
Reply to  Tony Sommer
03/31/2022 1:28 pm

I will be intrested to see what we actually get with those picks. That and time are the only ways we’re going to know if it was a good thing or a disaster. I don’t see anyone accepting that it was an “ok trade for both”

Nasrani
03/31/2022 11:28 am

Thank you for the memories, Tyreek! Best of luck in the future, unless your road takes you to Arrowhead and you find yourself against the Chiefs.

NovaChiefs
Reply to  Nasrani
03/31/2022 1:29 pm

Both were in overtime games? Interesting

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