With Kansas City, not only did it trade away Tyreek Hill. It also has an older tight end. Travis Kelce will be 33 in October, making it fair to wonder how long he can operate at a difference-making level.

There were times last year that I thought he had dipped some. During one 10-game stretch, he caught only 53 passes for 586 yards and 2 TDs. Good for a lot of tight ends, but not up there on the uber-awesome level. Most of his stats were down last year – catches, yards, yards per catch and completion rate.

Kelce rebounded nicely, of course, playing about as well as he ever has in their closing games. he averaged 7 catches for 92 yards in his final six games, with 7 TDs. He and Patrick Mahomes pulled off the key completion to tie the Buffalo playoff game at the end.

But if Kelce declines, which seems possible, KC could fall apart in a hurry.

Below see the list of the other six tight ends who’ve caught at least 700 career passes – Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham and Shannon Sharpe.

For each guy, I tossed the initial seasons, starting the meter after they’d become a top-10 tight end for the first time. Then I’ve got them ranked best to worst. For the seasons authored by tight ends who are at least 33 years old (at the end of the year), the players are tagged with black dots.

This group has combined to finish with top-5 numbers 46 times. All but seven of those seasons were by players who were under 33 years old (including all 16 of the No. 1 seasons).

For the 26 seasons where these tight ends didn’t finish with top-8 numbers, 16 of those were by players who were at least 33.

With there being statistical inflation over the years, I sorted the guys not by their fantasy points (PPR scoring) but first by their rank among tight ends in their particular season – the thinking being that 180 points in 1998 is more value than 220 points for a tight end today. After the ranking number, then I went to straight production.

Kelce probably will be my top tight end, but I’m not expecting his numbers to zoom up with Hill gone. If I’m a KC fan, my hope instead would be that he can hang on, producing at something close to what we saw last year.

2013Jimmy Graham, N.O.27861,21516303.51
2004Tony Gonzalez, K.C.281021,2587270.31
2000Tony Gonzalez, K.C.24931,2039267.31
2008Tony Gonzalez, K.C.32961,05810261.81
2005Antonio Gates, S.D.25891,10110259.11
2007Jason Witten, Dall.25961,1457252.51
2010Jason Witten, Dall.28941,0029250.21
1996Shannon Sharpe, Den.28801,06210246.21
2012Jimmy Graham, N.O.26859829237.21
1993Shannon Sharpe, Den.25819959234.51
1999Tony Gonzalez, K.C.237684911226.91
2003Tony Gonzalez, K.C.277191610222.61
2006Antonio Gates, S.D.26719249217.41
2001Tony Gonzalez, K.C.25739176205.61
1997Shannon Sharpe, Den.29721,1073202.71
1998Shannon Sharpe, Den.306476810200.81
2011Jimmy Graham, N.O.25991,31011296.02
2004Antonio Gates, S.D.248196413255.42
2007Tony Gonzalez, K.C.31991,1725246.22
2012• Tony Gonzalez, Atl.36939308234.02
2014Jimmy Graham, N.O.288588910233.92
2013• Tony Gonzalez, Atl.37838598218.92
1994Shannon Sharpe, Den.26871,0104216.02
2008Jason Witten, Dall.26819524202.32
2006Tony Gonzalez, K.C.30739005195.02
2003• Shannon Sharpe, Den.35627708187.02
2002Tony Gonzalez, K.C.26637737182.32
2000Shannon Sharpe, Balt.32678105178.02
2009Antonio Gates, S.D.29791,1578242.73
2012Jason Witten, Dall.301101,0393231.93
2007Antonio Gates, S.D.27759849227.43
2014• Antonio Gates, S.D.346982112223.13
2004Jason Witten, Dall.22879806223.03
2016Greg Olsen, Car.31801,0733207.33
2010Antonio Gates, S.D.305078210188.23
2001• Shannon Sharpe, Balt.33738112166.13
2011• Tony Gonzalez, Atl.35808757209.54
2016Jimmy Graham, Sea.30659236193.34
2008Antonio Gates, S.D.28607048178.44
1995Shannon Sharpe, Den.27637564162.64
2002• Shannon Sharpe, Den.34616863147.64
1992Shannon Sharpe, Den.24536402128.44
2015Greg Olsen, Car.30771,1047229.45
2014Greg Olsen, Car.29841,0086220.85
2009Jason Witten, Dall.27941,0302209.05
2011Jason Witten, Dall.29799425203.25
2013Jason Witten, Dall.31738518206.16
2009• Tony Gonzalez, Atl.33838676205.76
2005Tony Gonzalez, K.C.29789052180.56
2010• Tony Gonzalez, Atl.34706566171.66
1998Tony Gonzalez, K.C.22596212133.16
2013Greg Olsen, Car.28738166190.67
2011Antonio Gates, S.D.31647787183.87
2012Greg Olsen, Car.27698435183.37
2005Jason Witten, Dall.23667576177.77
2017Jimmy Graham, Sea.315752010171.07
2006Jason Witten, Dall.24647541145.48
2013• Antonio Gates, S.D.33778724188.29
2014Jason Witten, Dall.32647035164.39
2017• Jason Witten, Dall.35635605149.09
2008Greg Olsen, Chi.23545745141.49
2009Greg Olsen, Chi.24606128169.210
2015• Jason Witten, Dall.33777133166.310
2016• Jason Witten, Dall.34696733154.311
2019• Jason Witten, Dall.37635294141.911
2016• Antonio Gates, S.D.36535487149.812
2015• Antonio Gates, S.D.35566305149.012
2018Jimmy Graham, G.B.32556362130.612
2012Antonio Gates, S.D.32495387144.813
2019• Greg Olsen, Car.34525972123.713
2020• Jimmy Graham, Chi.34504568143.614
2011Greg Olsen, Car.26455405131.018
2015Jimmy Graham, Sea.29486052120.520
2019• Jimmy Graham, G.B.33384473100.721
2010Greg Olsen, Chi.25414045111.423
2018• Greg Olsen, Car.3327291480.125
2018• Antonio Gates, LAC3828333277.326
2017• Antonio Gates, LAC3730316379.628
1999Shannon Sharpe, Den.3123224045.432
2020• Greg Olsen, Sea.3524239153.946
2021• Jimmy Graham, Chi.3514167350.748
2017Greg Olsen, Car.3217191142.150
2020• Jason Witten, L.V.381369231.962

—Ian Allan