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Nick Jacobs: Chiefs' options to revive wide receiver position in free agency

Raiders Chiefs Football
Posted at 5:58 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 11:52:21-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach will have some tough decisions to make during the next week when it comes to bringing together the team's 2021 roster.

Ideally, the Chiefs would come away with two to three starters and some role players in free agency, which officially begins March 17 with the start of a new NFL league year.

Kansas City's lack of quality depth at wide receiver got exposed in a Super Bowl LV loss.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to take away wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, leaving the Chiefs without a third or fourth option to lean on and help a patchwork offensive line.

The quickest path for the Chiefs to improve their offensive, aside from additions on the offensive line, is to bolster the receiver position. The Chiefs are relatively thin at the position after Hill.

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Veach's pattern seems to be signing players who are entering their prime, but come within a reasonable price range.

Here are some wide receivers who fit that mold, but also could help this offense improve or evolve in the season ahead:

Free agents WRs who fit with Chiefs

Nelson Agholor, Raiders
Height: 6'0 Weight: 198 Age: 27

Agholor would be the ideal replacement for Sammy Watkins. He is a physical receiver who will battle through press coverage and doesn't give up on a route or play. He works to find space if the play breaks down and knows where the voids are in the coverage.

Agholor won't break the bank financially, but he fits into the money they were willing to pay Watkins per season. Recently, he's become a reliable receiver and showed improvement from his previous time with the Eagles.

Agholor has the frame to make contested catches but also take a hit over the middle and pop back up. He has spent most of his career running similar concepts to Andy Reid's offensive scheme with the Eagles and Raiders. He is a competitive player who wants to win every ball and every route.

Curtis Samuel, Panthers
Height: 5'11 Weight: 195 Age: 24

Samuel will likely collect a nice payday on the open market, but he is worth it when correctly utilized.

Samuel shines in the slot or out of routes from the backfield. He can be a nightmare for teams to keep track of over the middle. He is savvy with his route running, finding the voids in zone coverage, and fearless over the middle on contested catches.

With the ball in hands or coming in and out of breaks, Samuel is explosive. He also provides good insurance if Hill were to be injured. It would allow Kansas City to keep most of its scheme intact and demand opponents' respect.

Samuel, Hill and Kelce would be a lethal combination for opposing defenses to stop.

Corey Davis. Titans
Height: 6'3 Weight: 209 Age: 26

Davis has great size to replace Watkins. He has subtle moves to sell routes, which are tough for defenders not to bite on. That allows Davis to gain separation utilizing his body and short-area quickness in and out of his breaks.

Davis is a physical receiver who is willing to battle through defenders to get to the ball. He has a solid understanding the coverage and attacking the voids. He also has grown in the precision on his routes but really shined on his double moves.

John Ross, Bengals
Height: 5'11 Weight: 194 Age: 25

Ross won't command top dollar on the open market, but there is enough there to be an upgrade over Mecole Hardman Jr. and/or DeMarcus Robinson, especially with his potential impact on short and intermediate routes.

He will need a coach who can help him nail down the precision of his double moves, comeback routes and develop crisper out routes, but opposing cornerbacks respect his speed and are willing to play off because of it.

Ross makes tough catches of inaccurate throws look routine. He understands when to catch the ball with his body over the middle versus when to attack it.

Will Fuller, Texans
Height: 6'0 Weight: 172 Age: 26

Fuller really shines on vertical routes, double moves and deep crossing routes. He is explosive on screens and can turn a 2-yard gain into a first down or explosive play in a hurry. He also adjusts well to the football and does a good job of climbing back on top of his routes.

Fuller will fight through press coverage, but it takes him a couple of steps to get back into sync with the timing of the route. He would shine in the slot for the Chiefs, especially because he does a good job identifying coverage breakdowns and quickly attacking them.

Fuller's speed means he likely will command more than expected on the open market as an outside receiver.

Kendrick Bourne, 49ers
Height: 6-1 Weight: 190 Age: 25

Bourne is what the Chiefs hoped Robinson or Chris Conley would evolve into, though it never quite panned out. He could be a reliable possession receiver in the Chiefs' scheme — running good slant, comeback, dig, out and lasso routes.

On his deep routes, Bourne won't gain significant separation, but he will battle for the contested throw. He has a habit of catching balls into his body over the middle.

At worst, Bourne would be an upgrade over Robinson with the hope that his ceiling would be as a steady presence in Watkins' role.

Free agents WRs who don't fit with Chiefs

Of course, not every big name wide receiver set to be a free agent this offseason is a great fit with the Chiefs. Here are a few players with big names and proven production, but who Nick Jacobs doesn't think the Chiefs should target.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers
Height: 6-1 Weight: 215 Age: 24

Smith-Schuster's baggage isn't worth the production. It is likely why the Steelers will let a 24-year-old receiver, who hasn't even hit his prime yet, walk into free agency.

Kenny Golladay, Lions
Height: 6'4 Weight: 214 Age: 27

Golladay has great size for the "X" position. The problem he shows on tape is that his route tree looks very lumbering, he lacks explosiveness on double moves, and his vertical routes take time to develop.

Golladay has a fantastic catch radius, leaping ability and ball-tracking skills, but he lacks the athletic ability to justify the big difference in the price he will likely command on the market.

While Golladay will be a good possession receiver for a team that has good pass protection and an accurate quarterback, who welcomes the challenge of throwing contested balls, the Chiefs' offensive line at the moment would likely waste a lot of Golladay's features. He can make the contested catch and use his body to box out defenders, but that would likely only be a factor for Kansas City in the red zone and not the rest of the field.

Kansas City has too many needs on the roster that warrant giving Golladay a cap number that could pay for two starters.

Marvin Jones, Lions
Height: 6'2 Weight: 198 Age: 30

Jones will turn 31 just before the start of free agency, which is the time when receivers begin to see a decline in their explosiveness if injuries haven't already robbed them of that.

While Jones still has good acceleration on film, it's not to the level it was in Cincinnati. He is able to use his shoulder fakes and stutter steps to get defenders to bite on certain tells and exploit them on it for significant separation.

Salary is another issue. Jones is likely looking to stay in the $9 million per year range or above. He would be a short-term stopgap, leaving the Chiefs needing to draft a receiver to learn from him.