Patrick Mahomes revealed that it came as no surprise that he wanted to keep Star Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill for this season, but he relied on the plan of Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach.
Hill, 28, was drafted by the Chiefs in 2015 as a fifth-rounder and he’s likely on track to make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after becoming one of the most devastating offensive weapons in league history.
He made the Pro Bowl every year from 2016-2022, and this season earned his fourth First Team All-Pro selection after setting career highs with 119 receptions and 1,710 yards with the Miami Dolphins.
Veach said there were early warning signs that Hill would demand a record-breaking receiver contract, and that he had to make the painful decision to prioritize the defensive end of the ball instead.
“It became clear when free agency started, given the way wide receiver contracts went up, that it was going to be hard to do both [extend Hill and address the defense],” he said.
The Chiefs knew tough decisions lay ahead after Mahomes signed his NFL-record 10-year $450 million deal as his salary rose from $8 million in 2021 to $35 million this season.
Hill ended up signing a four-year, $120 million deal — and in a league with a salary cap, something had to be given up.
“Everyone knew what the next two or three years would look like and how many players we might have to cut and how difficult it was going to be,” he said. “We would have had a lot of expensive players.
“It’s hard to be successful year after year in this competition. It’s hard to win games year after year. There will be times when we have to come out and do something uncomfortable.”
“Nobody wanted to get rid of Tyreek, he’s a great player. But if you’re going to do something, trust the process and how you do things and don’t be afraid to commit a year early to change when you have more options .” to make those changes work better.”
Veach said his willingness to make such a franchise-defining call has been attributed to his belief that the franchise cannot waste seasons with Mahomes at the helm.
“If you have Pat Mahomes, we’re committed to going after it every year,” he said.
Mahomes himself said it was no secret that he wanted to re-sign Hill and keep the band together after winning the Super Bowl in 2020, but he understood all the moving bits.
“I definitely wanted to keep him,” he said. “They had a plan for it.
“They told me the plan and we were going to get these draft picks. We were going to go out and bring in some free agent receivers, and I think they executed that.
“We know that to be successful in this competition we have to keep evolving, getting better and better. I always want to be successful this year, but at the same time I’m here for the long haul.
“If we stay here for a long time, I want the chance to win the Super Bowls every year.”
The Chiefs’ other offensive star, Travis Kelce, said he was concerned after the Hill trade, including how effective the Chiefs would be on offense and what it could all mean for him.
“Yes, that was a question,” he said. “But once I saw how hard guys worked, paid attention to details, how Pat kept moving forward at quarterback… Right now we’re in a good routine that we’re getting better and better.
“You felt that from the day we started in May until now.”
Mahomes is in his fifth year as a starting player and after another spectacular season, he is the favorite to add a second MVP to his resume, as well as a fourth All-Pro selection, as he prepares for a shot at his second championship.