Patrick Mahomes can win without a true No.1 wide receiver. Patrick Mahomes can win with one of the worst pass-catching units in the league. Since trading Tyreek Hill in March 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs have made life increasingly difficult on Mahomes.

It’s time to make his job easier.

This offseason, the Chiefs will likely upgrade their receiving corps. That means signing at least one free agent and drafting at least one wideout. To Mahomes’ credit, the three-time Super Bowl MVP is so good that he overcomes almost all obstacles and deficiencies. However, asking him to do it again as Kansas City pursues a three-peat might be too tall of a task for even him.

The Chiefs led the NFL in dropped passes. Tight end Travis Kelce, who turns 35 in October, is coming off one of his worst seasons. The status quo won’t cut it. The only wide receiver guaranteed to be back is rookie standout Rashee Rice (79 catches for 938 yards, seven touchdowns).

Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Kadarius Toney might be cut. Skyy Moore has been a bust since being drafted in 2022. Super Bowl hero Mecole Hardman is a free agent.

The wide receivers need to be better because the 2024 Chiefs probably will need to score more. A defense that finished second in the NFL in points allowed (17.0 per game) could lose free agents defensive lineman Chris Jones and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.

Who Kansas City adds will be one of the most intriguing stories of the offseason.

One thing is clear. The general manager Brett Veach will not overspend on free agents. They could have (and arguably should have) made a big splash last year with DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr., but didn’t. If the Chiefs bring in a big-name veteran it will be on their terms. That means a short-term, salary cap-friendly rental.

The most high-profile receiver available is free agent Mike Evans. Statistically, Evans is the most reliable wideout since Jerry Rice. He has eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards every season he has been in the league. And even at 30, he averaged 15.9 yards per reception and caught 13 touchdowns. Mahomes hasn’t had a deep threat that productive since Hill.

But how realistic is it that Tampa Bay would not franchise-tag or resign Evans? Would Evans take less money to join a Super Bowl contender? Players want to win. They also want to get paid. So, who is a player willing to accept a 1-or 2-year deal? Options that might make more sense include Gabe Davis, Darnell Mooney, and Curtis Samuel.

No matter who the Chiefs sign, they will continue to lean heavily on the draft. In a salary-cap sport, cheap young players are valuable. The problem is that there’s only about a 50-percent success rate on first-round selections and the odds decline in subsequent rounds.

The Chiefs took Moore in the second round hoping that he could replace some of the production lost by dealing Hill. In two seasons, including the playoffs, Moore has totaled two touchdowns. On the flip side, Rice, also a second-rounder, led the Chiefs in TD catches.

The good news is that this draft is considered deep in receivers. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah predicts six will taken in the first round. He has the Chiefs picking Oregon’s Troy Franklin with the final pick of the first round. There’s also the possibility of Kansas City trading up for one of the elite prospects (LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze?). Or maybe, Veach will draft two or three in the second or third rounds hoping one will pan out.

Whatever Kansas City does, it can’t go into next season with another thin receiving corps. Mahomes is the NFL’s top player, but even the ultimate quarterback could use some help.

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.