To fill the void this time around, K.C. is counting on Kadarius Toney to step into that No. 1 WR role.
"He's predominately been a guy that is a slot receiver, returner, runner -- a gadget guy, if you will -- but I don't know if there is a limit on his game because he has a vertical game,'' Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said last month. "I don't know if [his collegiate team at Florida was] one that vertically pushed the ball down the field, and his time early on in New York, I don't know if they were a team that really vertically pushed the ball down the field."
The Florida product was drafted in the first round in 2021, playing in just 12 games with the New York Giants before being traded to Kansas City midway through last season. Veach is counting on Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid to unlock Toney's talent.
"It's a fair question to [ask]: 'Has he ever played with a quarterback that likes to push the ball down the field?' We have a lot of high hopes for him," Veach said. "He was a first-round pick for a reason. There's a reason why we traded for him and we felt like he was first-round talent."
In seven games with the Chiefs last season, Toney caught 14 of 17 targets for 171 yards and two TDs. In three postseason games, Toney added seven catches on 10 targets for 50 yards, with a Super Bowl touchdown. Most of those catches were the gadget-type. Five of his 27 targets in 10 games as a Chief, including playoffs, came 10-plus yards downfield, per Next Gen Stats.
"We got him in here in the middle of the season and so there's only so much you can do with him," Veach said. "He's extremely smart so it's not going to be anything [with] grasping ideas or concepts. We were surprised with how quickly he picked it up.
"I think the sky is the limit for him."
The Chiefs are counting on Toney and second-year second-rounder Skyy Moore to "continue to grow" in 2023. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a deep threat, Justin Watson has been productive in limited reps, and K.C. inked Richie James, an underrated pass-catcher, in free agency. Second-round pick Rashee Rice gives the corps a different element entering his rookie campaign.
In the aftermath of trading Hill, the Chiefs replaced the production with numerous bodies, trusting Mahomes could make it work with the new crew. That's still the plan, but having a player like Toney, given his talent, become a field-tilting force would make life easier on Mahomes.
First, Toney, who has missed numerous games due to injury in his young career, must stay healthy.