Cut-down day in Kansas City showed that Brett Veach and Andy Reid are still uncomfortable with where their defense stands. As rival Oakland was weakening its defense by trading away superstar Khalil Mack, the Chiefs were quietly trying to find the right mix for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
The biggest move was the team cutting bait on David Amerson after signing the defensive back to a one-year make good contract in February.
There’s a good bet that Veach and Reid aren’t done making moves, but here’s where Kansas City’s roster stands after the cuts.
Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Matt McGloin
Mahomes is now firmly entrenched as the starter, and Henne is a serviceable backup. The surprise was that they elected to keep journeyman McGloin over undrafted rookie Chase Litton. The youngster will probably end up on the practice squad, but McGloin is the kind of player who’s usually available if there’s an injury. No real reason to waste a roster spot on him.
Kareem Hunt, Anthony Sherman, Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, Darrell Williams
For the Chiefs to be at their best, Hunt needs to closely replicate his rookie year. Ware is a decent backup, and its clear that Reid wants to see if they can develop Darrell Williams. Damien Williams, though, needs to make an impact on special teams to justify his spot.
Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus Kemp
It would be nice if Watkins actually lived up to his talent at some point. The depth could also certainly be better, but Robinson and Conley have an opportunity to step up. Thomas is a key special teams contributor, but Kemp shouldn’t get too comfortable just yet.
Travis Kelce, Alex Ellis
For week one, tight end Demetrius Harris doesn’t count against the roster as he serves a suspension. Kelce is one of the best in the business, but the Chiefs really can’t afford to have him go down even after Harris is back.
Eric Fisher, Cam Erving, Mitch Morris, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Andrew Wylie, Bryan Witzmann, Jordan Devey, Kahlil McKenzie
The Chiefs offensive line is the football equivalent of “meh.” Schwartz is very good and the rest do just enough to get by. Sixth-round pick McKenzie played defense in college at Tennessee and is still learning his O-line role, so expect him to be a fixture on the inactive list.
Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Xavier Williams, Jarvis Jenkins, Derrick Nnadi, Justin Hamilton
Third-round pick Nnadi has looked the part during the preseason, so it will be interesting to see what he can do when the games matter. Bailey and Williams are both banged up, which might explain why Hamilton is sticking around, although his roster spot is far from secure.
Justin Houston, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Dee Ford, Breeland Speaks, Terrance Smith, Ben Niemann, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Dorian O’Daniel
Special teams stalwart Frank Zombo and former fifth-round pick Ukeme Eligwe are gone. Undrafted Niemann is in after a strong preseason. The Chiefs entire season might live or die on how well the starting group of Houston, Hitchens, Ragland, and Ford perform.
Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen, Armani Watts, Eric Murray, Jordan Lucas
Sorensen will land on injured reserve for the first 8 weeks of the season. There are reports that Ron Parker, after being released by Atlanta, is heading back to the Chiefs. Lucas just joined the team after a trade with Miami on Friday. That’s a lot of moving pieces for one position group, yet none of it will make any difference if Berry isn’t healthy.
Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson, Orlando Scandrick, Tremon Smith, Charvarius Ward
The signing of Scandrick, after his release from Washington, was the first signal that Amerson was in trouble. The team traded offensive lineman Parker Ehinger to Dallas right before cuts to bring in Ward. There’s some promise with Smith and Ward, and there’s a good chance that fellow youngster Arrion Springs will land on the practice squad. Still, it’s been a while since Scandrick was good. After getting rid of Marcus Peters, the Chiefs desperately need Fuller to keep building on his promise.
Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
Butker (kicker), Colquitt (punter), and Winchester (long-snapper) weren’t really challenged.