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Cheese Curds, 2/13: Packers and Chiefs moved in opposite directions after WR trades

The two franchises traded away franchise receivers. One missed the playoffs while the other won the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

A little less than 12 months ago, two NFL franchises sitting on impressive runs of success found themselves in awkward positions: trading away their most explosive offensive weapons. The Green Bay Packers franchise-tagged Davante Adams before trading him to the Las Vegas Raiders; about a week later, the Kansas City Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.

In the first year since those trades, one team saw its offense take a major step back. The Packers, who had won 13 games in three straight seasons, went just 8-9 in the first year of the post-Adams era, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018. The Packers’ decision to invest in a young receiving corps and add just one low-priced veteran (Sammy Watkins) generally didn’t work out in year one, despite some fireworks from rookie Christian Watson in the second half of the season.

The Kansas City Chiefs, however, managed to elevate their offensive game without their superstar. The Chiefs had a better record, scored more points, threw for more yards and touchdowns, and advanced farther in the postseason in 2022 without Hill than they did in 2021. The Chiefs’ additions — signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and former Packer Marquez Valdes-Scantling, drafting Skyy Moore, and trading for Kadarius Toney — gave that group a more varied set of skills. Additionally, tight end Travis Kelce put up bigger numbers without Hill around, earning another All-Pro nod. Ultimately, Patrick Mahomes broke the MVP curse, winning AP MVP, the Super Bowl, and Super Bowl MVP.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, watching a team that traded away an elite receiver in somewhat similar fashion win a title while the Packers were watching the postseason from home. Now the wait begins to see what will happen for the Packers in the 2023 offseason and whether they will be starting over at quarterback or running it back with Aaron Rodgers yet again.

How Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs beat Jalen Hurts, Eagles in Super Bowl 2023 | ESPN
They did it with a dominant second-half performance against the #1 defense in the NFL. As noted in this analysis: "The Chiefs converted 93.8% of their first downs into another first down or a touchdown in the second half, and the only reason they didn't hit 100% is because Jerick McKinnon slid down on the 1-yard line to set up the title-winning field goal."

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Meanwhile, an apparent stop by the Eagles before the McKinnon slide was erased by a tough holding call on Bradberry. It's a tough call to make at that point in the game, but by the letter of the rule, it was the right call.

Packers need another vertical threat at WR to complement Christian Watson | Packers Wire
Watson's field-stretching ability opened up a lot for the Packers' offense in the second half of the season. Another deep threat would only further unlock the potential of Matt LaFleur's unit.

Tee Higgins ‘For Sure’ Thought Packers Were Drafting Him, Not Jordan Love - Sports Illustrated
Higgins is one of several very good receivers to come out of the 2020 class, and he ended up going 33rd to the Bengals. But he was convinced that when the Packers moved up to #26, they were doing to to select him, rather than to pick Jordan Love.

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This story is from September, but one can only assume that the debate was truly incredible. The incumbent brother won re-election, but only narrowly over his brother, who ran mainly to ensure that his estranged brother didn't go unopposed.