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The Value of Rashee Rice Can’t Be Undervalued or Discarded

When news broke two weeks ago about the six-car pile-up involving Kansas City Chiefs Wide Receiver Rashee Rice, it was heartbreaking for the fan base, his fellow players, and ownership. Now that the legal process has begun to judge Rice for his actions away from the game, we should remember the value he brings to the team on the field.

The Kansas City Chiefs are heading into the NFL Draft with question marks. One centers on the recent off-the-field incident surrounding Wide Receiver Rashee Rice. To date, he’s been formally charged and turned himself into authorities for his actions, and the legal process is now in the hands of his capable attorney, Royce West.

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With the news in hand, the Chiefs’ dilemma is selecting another wide receiver who could take catches away from Rice or improve the offense. 

In my post-Super Bowl boredom, I’ve re-watched the Chiefs improbable playoff run and Super Bowl victory at least 15 times. I watched those four games earlier this week and kept my eye on Rice and his movements with and without the ball. What I discovered was shocking.

As his snaps increased in the postseason, so did his value within the Chiefs offense. It’s well-documented that the Chiefs receiving group struggled most of the year. Had Rice not emerged as the other option not named Travis Kelce, Mahomes magic might have fizzled in the quest to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

What caught my eye about Rice wasn’t the catches, the yards after the catch, or the touchdowns; it was his ability to run routes where he wasn’t getting the ball because he was so adept at taking defenders with him, leaving open spaces for other offensive outlets for Mahomes.

The Chiefs use a lot of motion in their offensive schemes, all designed to confuse opponents. Once Rice integrated into the game plan late in the season, the Chiefs’ offense took its game to a new level.

Having Patrick Mahomes as the quarterback eliminates shortcomings, but Rice’s contributions can’t be overlooked or likely replaced in 2024.

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Shortly after the accident that caused the car wreck and brought unwanted attention to Rashee Rice, many quickly judged him for his actions. Some even suggested on social media that the Chiefs should cut him. Others suggested the NFL could suspend him for the entire season.

The bottom line is neither is going to happen to Rice. The Chiefs aren’t cutting him, and the NFL will undoubtedly impose a suspension, but he’ll play ball this year in Kansas City. The league has a formula for players who violate the NFL’s code of conduct, and Rice falls within that code.

On the other hand, as I’ve stated before, Rice must remove himself from the entourage that encouraged the drag race down a Texas Highway two weeks ago. He must realize he’s a High-Profile athlete now, and he plays on arguably the most talked-about NFL team in the game today.

Adding news that comes across the police blotter is not suitable for Rice or his employer.

Thus, because it is still being determined when Rice will be available to join the Chiefs again, General Manager Brett Veach must decide which round he will draft another young wide receiver.

Fortunately, this draft has quality wide receivers that could stretch well into day three of the NFL draft. Sitting at #32 for now, Veach will get one of the top ten receivers when he’s on the clock.

The question remains: Will he find a potential replacement for Rice and his role in the offense, or should he draft a complimentary player and assume his suspension will be less than some predict?

Veach signed Hollywood Brown early in free agency, and the speedy wide receiver has already spent weeks working with Mahomes in Texas, aiding this decision. So, he has a head start. Rice was involved in those workouts at one point but none since the accident.

Because Brown and Rice have different skill sets, they complement one another on paper, adding a new development for Mahomes and the Chiefs offensively to combat opposing defenses.

While Brown has straight-away speed, Rice clears a lot of space for the offense when he’s not the primary target.  Drafting a young receiver and hoping he can duplicate what Rice does for the offense without the ball should be considered a talk task.

Rice mastered the role of former Chiefs Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster last season. It took Rice time, but eventually, he was the next option after Kelce throughout their playoff run.

So, whatever happens next to Rice and Veach’s decision about which type of wide receiver he’ll add in the upcoming draft brings me to a singular conclusion: Rice will be given another chance in a Chiefs uniform to show he can overcome the bad decisions he made away from the game he loves to play on Sundays.

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