Update: 12:15 p.m. Arrowhead Time
We have signed free agent DB Keith Reaser. pic.twitter.com/ugZclfrrRp— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) April 5, 2019
At about 12:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time, the now-defunct Alliance of American Football tweeted that its players could sign with NFL teams.
Effective immediately, all AAF players are authorized to sign with NFL Clubs.— The Alliance (@TheAAF) April 4, 2019
Less than two hours later, cornerback Keith Reaser, who had a spectacular showing for the Orlando Apollos in the AAF, is headed back to the Kansas City Chiefs, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Reaser rejoins the club after spending a year with Kansas City from 2017-18.
There’s an AAFL signing - CB Keith Reaser from Orlando to the Chiefs, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 4, 2019
Schefter also reported the deal includeds $100,000 up front, a $50,000 signing bonus, a $25,000 workout bonus and a $25,000 roster bonus. Reaser appears to be the first signing back to the NFL from the AAF.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said at the NFL’s Scouting Combine that there were AAF players that would be on the 90-man roster if they were available. And he wasn’t lying.
That wasn’t the only reason to expect Reaser’s return. We’ve been watching him for a while.
When Reaser was with the Chiefs in 2017 — after spending three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers — he spent most of his time on the practice squad. After being elevated to the active roster when Mitch Morse was injured, he was active in the last two games of the season: Patrick Mahomes’ debut against the Denver Broncos — where he recorded four tackles, a pair of passes defensed and a sack — and the playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.
In that game, Reaser recovered a muffed Titans punt in the third quarter, which set up a 48-yard field goal attempt that Harrison Butker missed. But it’s not hard to imagine that if Butker had made that kick, the Chiefs would have won that game.
And Reaser would have been one of the heroes.
That’s undoubtedly one of the reasons Chiefs general manager was so often inclined to mention Reaser.
“Look, we still have guys like Keith Reaser and Will Redmond that people won’t really talk about,” Veach told the press that spring, “but Redmond was a [third-round] pick by the 49ers coming off an injury and Keith Reaser was a guy we liked — I think he too [was] also coming off an injury out of Florida Atlantic a few years back, so a lot of people won’t talk about those guys. But when you start stacking those type of players in regard to what’s out there in the draft class, you feel good about them.”
But things wouldn’t work out for Reaser in 2018. He suffered a quad injury in training camp and the Chiefs waived him with an injury designation, hoping to keep him on the roster. But after clearing waivers and being put on the practice squad, the Chiefs ultimately released Reaser with an injury settlement.
Then came the Orlando Apollos of the AAF.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we argued that the team should strongly consider taking another look at former Chiefs who were making noise in the AAF — specifically Reaser and De’Vante Bausby.
Noting that the two were PFF’s most highly-rated cornerbacks in the AAF, we said that both of them should be part of Veach’s plans for the cornerback-needy Chiefs.
Considering Veach’s combine quote and the team’s need in the secondary, both Reaser and Bausby must be on his radar as candidates to bring back once the AAF season concludes on April 27, conveniently the same day as the end of the NFL Draft. AAF players have a window from the April championship game to December 1 of the following year to sign with an NFL team.
What we didn’t know at that moment was that even with the reported collapse of the league, NFL teams couldn’t yet negotiate with AAF players, as NFL teams were reminded on Thursday morning. But just a couple of hours later, AAF officials cleared the way for players to find work in the NFL.
So now, Keith Reaser is back. And the Chiefs are now even closer to the point they might be able to go in to the NFL Draft concentrating only on the best player available.
In the meantime... Da’Vante Bausby’s phone might be ringing, too. Pick up, bro.
(Update: Bausby picked up, but the call was from the Denver Broncos, who signed him Thursday night).