The Chiefs, like the rest of the NFL, must trim their rosters to no more than 53 active players before the Tuesday deadline. By August 30 at 4 pm eastern, all moves must be made. Which Chiefs are likely to be on the outside looking in?
The Chiefs’ full preseason slate for 2022 is now behind them following their 17-10 win over the Packers in game three. We’re putting together a preview of what each position group looks like on the 53-man roster ahead of the season. The NFL allows teams to have up to 90 players on their roster at the onset of training camp. Over the course of camp and preseason, that number must be whittled down to just 53 players before the start of the season.
The deadline for these moves has mostly come and gone, with NFL teams cutting their rosters down to no more than 80 players back on August 23. The final deadline, Tuesday’s 4 pm mark, will require all teams to drop their roster size to just 53 players.
As a result of the tiered deadlines implemented by the NFL, a player’s status on the 53-man roster can fluctuate as the preseason progresses. It creates time for players to make their mark if they don’t start out in the favor of coaches. Whichever players are on the bubble at the start of the preseason could have cemented their place on the roster as the preseason progressed.
Here are our past previews, taking deeper looks at each side of the ball:
With the deadline fast approaching, here’s a final look at the upcoming Chiefs 53-man roster:
Updated Chiefs Transactions Ahead Of Tuesday’s Flurry Of Moves
The Chiefs already got started on some of their upcoming roster decisions late last week following their third preseason game. In the moves, a total of six players were cut. Tackle Lucas Niang was also placed on the PUP list with a knee injury. Players released include:
WR Gary Jennings
RB Derrick Gore
OT Roderick Johnson
QB Dustin Crum
LB Mike Rose
RB Tayon Fleet-Davis
WR Aaron Parker
The most surprising of this first round of cuts is Roderick Johnson. Johnson started out camp much better than he finished the preseason. Even still, it seemed likely that the Chiefs would roster ten offensive linemen again in 2022 like they did last season and that gave him a fair chance to make the roster. In his absence, the door looks to have opened for Tackle Prince Tega Wanogho to make the team’s initial 53-man roster.
Gore wasn’t much of a surprise, as he had landed on injured reserve just a few days prior to his release. He suffered a neck injury in the team’s preseason and the Chiefs released him from the IR with an injury settlement. His departure could open the door for Ronald Jones to make the roster following his standout performance in the final preseason game.
Chiefs Wide Receiver Situation Remains Unclear Ahead Of Cuts
On the offense, there are three main roster crunches that the team’s front office will look to evaluate both today and tomorrow. Among them includes the wide receiver position, running back, and quarterback.
At wide receiver, the situation only got more unclear following the Chiefs game against the Packers last Thursday. Corey Coleman added his name to the mix after he seemed destined to be cut ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. He didn’t add much on offense, hauling in just one catch for six yards. Instead, he made his mark in the return game. Coleman returned three punts for 47 yards and one kick return for 45 yards.
If Coleman indeed makes the roster as a returner, this could protect rookies, Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco. If those two players play an integral role in the offense at some point this season, it makes sense for the team to lower their exposure in the return game to protect against injury and assist them in learning the offense as quickly as possible.
Behind Coleman, Cornell Powell, Daurice Fountain, and Josh Gordon each attempted to make their own case for the 53-man roster. Powell did not see the field until the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game. This doesn’t bode well for his chances to make the roster. Gordon didn’t haul in a single catch and adds to special teams impact. He will almost certainly be released on Tuesday.
Daurice Fountain’s spot on the roster will likely boil down to how other positions shake out on the offense. If the Chiefs feel the need to roster four running backs this season to protect against injuries, that could spell the end for Fountain on the roster. Similarly, if the Chiefs keep Shane Buechele as a third quarterback to keep him around for next season, Fountain could be a roster casualty.
The Chiefs Offense Remains Unclear After Preseason Game Three
Beyond the wide receivers, the quarterback and running back positions did little to clear themselves up ahead of roster cuts. At quarterback, Shane Buechele has done everything possible to earn his place on the 53-man roster. He outplayed Packers backup Jordan Love in the third and final preseason game and has looked sharp throughout the preseason.
If he’s released, the Chiefs risk losing him to another team as he will not likely reach the practice squad. The bigger question isn’t whether Buechele makes the roster, but instead whether he has unseated Chad Henne for the backup position. In our projection, Buechele has made the team’s active roster with Henne remaining as the backup for 2022. When Henne hits free agency or retirement next season, Buechele will become the Chiefs’ backup quarterback.
Shane Buechele starting off the second half with a strike down the field. 🎯 @BGShaneBuechele 📺: #WASvsKC on @NFLNetwork 📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/tpy3uNZRe7 pic.twitter.com/vRfeLIeWPh — NFL (@NFL) August 20, 2022
At the running back position, both Isiah Pacheco and Ronald Jones got substantial work against the Packers. Not only did they receive ample touches — they both ran hard and looked great on the field. Jones finished his Thursday with nine touches for 47 yards. Pacheco had ten for 52 yards. Without question, Pacheco has earned his place on the Chiefs roster. He also comes with more club control than Jones, who signed just a one-year contract this offseason.
What should be noted is how little work Jerick McKinnon received on Thursday. With McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire seeing zero rush attempts in the preseason finale, it seems as if the top two running back positions are locked up, leaving Jones and Pacheco to fill one final RB3 spot. Pacheco should win this battle due to his immense upside and lengthier club control.
Final Touches Expected For The Chiefs 53-Man Roster In 2022
The cuts above of Gordon, Powell, and Jones won’t be enough to trim the Chiefs roster to 53. The offensive line will also likely see some changes ahead of Tuesday’s deadline as well. With Roderick Johnson already released, it seems more likely that Tega Wanogho has made the team’s active roster. With severe roster crunches elsewhere and the ability to capitalize on value with trades, it seems more and more unlikely that the Chiefs roster ten offensive linemen in 2022.
As a result, our projection sees the Chiefs entertaining trade offers for either guard Nick Allegretti or center Austin Reiter. With more depth options at guard, it seems likely that Kansas City could trade Allegretti to a team such as the Buccaneers who are severely lacking depth along their offensive line.
At cornerback, although Joshua Williams struggled on Thursday, his roster spot was never in question. He may have moved down in the pecking order behind standout Jaylen Watson, but should still get plenty of snaps in his rookie season. With so much higher upside options ahead of them, Chris Lammons and Nazeeh Johnson seem destined for the practice squad. Either one could pick up elsewhere, but they seem like safe bets to clear waivers and sign to the practice squad.