Kansas City Chiefs: Why Rod Streater Was Traded Away

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Rod Streater. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs receiver Rod Streater. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Chiefs continued to surprise their fans yesterday when veteran wide receiver Rod Streater was traded.  The fan favorite, on a one year deal, was sent to the 49ers in a trade that netted almost nothing.

The Kansas City Chiefs tend to be very aggressive in the personnel department under John Dorsey.  The fourth year Chiefs General Manager’s reputation for getting the most out of the trade and waiver wire markets is impressive.  Dorsey continued his aggressive approach this year by trading wide receiver Rod Streater.  However, a lot of people scratching their heads over this move.

Many fans and pundits believed Rod Streater was essentially a lock for for the Chiefs roster.  Streater is a more well-known commodity than the younger players the Chiefs wide receiver group currently features.  At 28 years old, the former Oakland reciever racked up an 800 yard season just a couple years ago.

However, the Kansas City Chiefs still made a trade that sent Streater to San Francisco.  What did the Chiefs get in return?  Kansas City swapped 7th round picks with the 49ers in 2019.  That’s it.  How does that help Kansas City?  Why was Streater traded?  Well, you have to look beyond the obvious.

Why Trade Him?

It is not a stretch to say that Rod Streater is more talented than most of the wide receivers the Chiefs kept.  Most notably, Streater is a better player right now than projected third wide receiver Albert Wilson.  However, Streater was not brought in to compete with Wilson.  He was brought in to take on the #2, or X, receiver job.

Rod Streater signed what is known as a “prove it” deal with the Chiefs.  Essentially, Streater signed a relatively cheap contract in order to show teams he still has talent.  In order to showcase that talent, Streater needed to win the #2 job for the Chiefs.  Instead, second year man Chris Conley won the job easily.  That left Streater combating Albert Wilson for a top backup role.

Unfortunately for Rod Streater, winning the top backup job was a very tall task.  Most fans, and many pundits, believe that roster spots are based all on talent.  That is not true and this is a perfect example.  Rod Streater is better than Albert Wilson right now.  However, Albert Wilson knows every wide receiver role in the Chiefs offense, and Streater did not show he knew even one.

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Furthermore, Albert Wilson offers the Chiefs a cheap and youthful option that KC can keep around with a Restricted Free Agent designation.  Rod Streater was essentially a sure thing to leave KC after this season.  The purpose of a “prove it” deal is for a player to audition for other teams in order to get a big contract the next year.

That is a huge consideration for a General Manager because future stability is incredibly important.  So ultimately, Albert Wilson actually offered more to the Chiefs than Rod Streater did.

Traded For Nothing

The other head scratching part of this move is that the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t get really anything for Rod Streater.  Yes, it is true that the Chiefs did not net an extra pick or player.  However, the Chiefs actually gained some decent salary cap relief.

The Chiefs are currently very tight against the salary cap, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.  That means the front office weighs every decision carefully.  In this case, the Chiefs looked to ensure no guaranteed money for Streater affected the team.  San Francisco has taken on responsibility for Streater’s entire contract.

Remember when the Chiefs only had a few hundred thousand in cap space?  The team now has close to $5 million to work with.  That is important.  In fact, the writing was on the wall for this move when the Chiefs restructured Rod Streater’s contract.  Kansas City changed Streater’s bonus money from a “likely to be earned” status to “unlikely to be earned”.

A move like that affects how bonus money hits the salary cap.  More importantly though, a player on a one year contract really only has one reason to agree to that.  The Chiefs most likely informed Streater that he could restructure the contract, or they would release him then.

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Between the added cap space and the value of the young wide receivers already on the roster, this trade is not surprising.  Rod Streater held a specific value to the Kansas City Chiefs, but the team found that value elsewhere.  All in all, it is a good thing the Chiefs felt that Streater was not needed.  It speaks highly to the faith the Chiefs have in the rest of the roster.