A former Kansas State Wildcat, Byron Pringle has quietly made a case to stay with the Kansas City Chiefs beyond this season.
The numbers do not lie. Wide receiver Byron Pringle is an integral part of the Kansas City Chiefs offense.
At age 28, Pringle is by far having his best statistical season in Kansas City. He has recorded 42 catches for 568 yards and five touchdowns, which are all career-highs for Pringle. He served primarily as a depth piece in 2019 and 2020, playing the majority of special teams’ snaps. Before 2021, Pringle had only logged 382 offensive snaps, totaling 25 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns. Each year saw Pringle progress and improve though, with his targets and offensive snaps increasing from 2019 to 2020. Pringle has yet to see the majority of offensive snaps in a season, appearing in 49% of the Chiefs’ snaps in 2021. However, the latter half of 2021 showed that Pringle can produce when given the chance. Through Week 9, Pringle saw action in 35.2% of offensive snaps. That mark was well above his 2020 snap count, but the best was yet to come. For the rest of the season, Pringle was on the field for 57.3% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps.
Fans should expect players’ stats and presence to grow as they progress. It is a natural byproduct of players becoming better and coaches finding a role for said players. However, there is a bigger story than just the stats.
Any player can produce in a void of other talents (looking at you 2010 Dwayne Bowe). However, Pringle has been the best Chiefs receiver outside of wide receiver and part-time cheerleader Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.
This season, six Chiefs have seen more than 40 targets in the passing game. Pringle is fourth in that group with 60 targets. By far his biggest offensive season, Pringle is more than a stat-padding player.
Amongst those same six players, Pringle leads in the following stats:
- Passer rating (when targeted) – 127.6
- Yards/reception – 13.5 yards
- Yards/target – 9.5 yards
- Yards/touch – 13.5 yards
- Average depth of target (ADOT) – 10.7 yards
For you stat heads, Football Outsiders is a great resource. One advanced statistic they provide is DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. “This number represents value, per play, over an average WR in the same game situations. The more positive the DVOA rating, the better the player’s performance,” the analytics website states. How often is Kansas City better with Pringle on the field? Pringle is 2nd in the NFL, at 29.6% of plays. He is nearly two percentage points better than Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp and 18 percentage points better than Tyreek Hill. That is how much Pringle adds to the offense.
Pringle passes the eye test. The numbers show how productive he is. Now, what does this mean for the offseason?
Pringle is currently playing on a one-year, $2.13-million contract. That is a huge jump from his previous average salary of $540,000 from 2019-to 2020. Pringle could, and should, see a sizeable pay bump following a season of career milestones. Now, does that mean he leaves Kansas City for a big payday?
This year, Pringle’s contract only accounted for 1.13% of Kansas City’s cap, comparable to defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Not too bad for an arguable WR2.
Considering Pringle’s on-field performance and the wide receiver market, Pringle has a Calculated Market Value of $3.2 million, according to Spotrac. That would be a steal for Kansas City, with other players being paid more for much less production. If Pringle were to stay around that annual salary number, Kansas City should jump all over it.
The Chiefs have a large upcoming offensive free-agent class of 14 players. While key running backs Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon, Left tackle Orlando Brown, and late-bloomer tight end Joe Fortson are on the list, Pringle is the most important player. The Chiefs entered 2021 with no clear WR2, with Robinson and Mecole Hardman the favorites to fill the role. Yet, Pringle successfully filled that role in the season’s second half. Robinson has fallen flat, while Hardman’s performance is streaky at best. Pringle only got better as the season progressed, including a stellar postseason. He is one of Patrick Mahomes’ best targets, evident by Pringle’s production.
The biggest knocks against Pringle are his WR2 ceiling and he is relatively older. He is currently 28, hardly an age where teams will sing a wide receiver long-term. A one- or two-year deal in the $4 million annual range is not terrible and a price the Chiefs should be willing to pay.