In a shocking twist of events, the NFL announced Friday it would not suspend Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill following a four-month investigation into the wide receiver’s family situation.
Hill was under scrutiny for alleged child abuse after an audio recording was leaked to a television station featuring Hill and his fiancee Crystal Espinal discussing aggressive discipline of their child together.
Previously it was reported the Chiefs were “hopeful” that Hill might not be suspended and they were eyeing a max of four games for the wide receiver.
Legal authorities ultimately decided not to charge Hill, although they did say they believe a crime was committed by someone in the matter.
“This office has reviewed all the evidence and has declined to file charges against Tyreek Hill and Crystal Espinal,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said. “We are deeply troubled by the situation. We believe a crime has occurred; however, the evidence in this case doesn’t establish who committed a crime.”
The NFL issued a lengthy statement on the situation, noting that no one at the league office can “conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy.” Additionally, the league said that “information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us.”
In its statement, the league did add that if “further information becomes available” Hill could face a suspension.
Perhaps that could involve a discussion with Espinal? According to a report from Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the league did not speak with Hill’s fiancee during the course of its investigation.
That’s surprising — the league cannot compel a non-employee to participate in its investigation, but it’s surprising the league would not lean on Hill some to have Espinal speak to the NFL’s investigators.
Here is the league’s statement in full:
Over the past four months, we have conducted a comprehensive investigation of allegations regarding Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Throughout this investigation, the NFL’s primary concern has been the well-being of the child.
Our understanding is that the child is safe and that the child’s ongoing care is being directed and monitored by the Johnson County District Court and the Johnson County Department for Children and Families.
In conducting our investigation, we have taken great care to ensure that we do not interfere with the county’s proceedings or compromise the privacy or welfare of the child in any way.
The information developed in the court proceeding is confidential and has not been shared with us, and the court has sealed all law enforcement records. Local law enforcement authorities have publicly advised that the available evidence does not permit them to determine who caused the child’s injuries.
Similarly, based on the evidence presently available, the NFL cannot conclude that Mr. Hill violated the Personal Conduct Policy.
Accordingly, he may attend Kansas City’s training camp and participate in all club activities. He has been and will continue to be subject to conditions set forth by the District Court, Commissioner Goodell, and the Chiefs, which include clinical evaluation and therapeutic intervention.
If further information becomes available through law enforcement, the pending court proceeding, or other sources, we will promptly consider it and take all appropriate steps at that time.
Obviously the safety and well being of the child is the No. 1 concern here, but Hill is one of the best players in football and a unique talent, and this suspension — or lack thereof — does affect Hill and the Chiefs from a pure football standpoint.
On the field
From a football standpoint, getting Hill back for the entire season is a massive win for Kansas City. The Chiefs lost Kareem Hunt last year after they released the running back in the wake of video, emerging when TMZ uncovered it, showing Hunt assaulting a woman in a hotel hallway.
A few months ago it felt as if Hill could suffer a similar fate as it relates to the Chiefs roster.
Now he’s going to play the entire year barring new evidence popping up, and it means the Chiefs will be as close as possible to full speed offensively.
Hill changes how teams game-plan against the Chiefs, and he’s a matchup nightmare. Patrick Mahomes’ odds of repeating as MVP only increase with this news.
It looked like the Chiefs might enter Week 1 with Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and 2019 second-round pick Mecole Hardman as their top receivers on the depth chart, assuming Hill was missing due to a suspension. With the news that Hill is back, the Chiefs offense looks loaded again. Watkins is a great second wide receiver option, and with Hill and Travis Kelce on the field as well as Damien Williams in the backfield, Mahomes and KC will be an offensive force to be reckoned with.
The Chiefs were already the favorites to win the AFC West, but a lot of people were getting on board the Chargers bandwagon. Expect that to flip back some. The regression chatter with Mahomes should slow down as well if he gets a full season of Hill.
Throwing for 5,000 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns is not the most likely scenario, simply because of how difficult it is to actually produce back to back seasons like that, but Hill makes those lofty totals much more achievable.
Hill is now a first-round pick in fantasy, according to Heath Cummings. Heath pegs Hill as early as the fifth overall pick in a PPR league and a late first-round pick in non PPR leagues. The diminutive wide receiver was going as late as the fourth round in recent drafts, with uncertainty about his future playing a key role in people not wanting to invest in him as a high pick. The prevailing logic had Hill facing somewhere between a four- and six-game suspension, but now that he’s in the clear, he should be expected to produce something similar to last year’s 1,479-yard season.
Hill and the Chiefs were, by all accounts, getting pretty close on a new mega extension for the wide receiver in the wake of his All-Pro season in 2018. However, according to a report from James Palmer of NFL Media, it is going to be “several weeks, if not months” before the two sides start talking again. Any new deal, per Palmer, would likely “have some very specific language within it” relating to Hill’s off-field actions. Any sort of massive deal that the wideout gets — and he’ll get one, because ultimately talent wins out in the NFL — would ostensibly have outs for the Chiefs if Hill violates the Personal Conduct Policy.
It would be exceptionally odd of the Chiefs to storm forward with contract talks. They can still utilize the franchise tag on Hill and let things play out with his court situation and with the NFL before agreeing to commit a large degree of financial investment to the wideout.