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Chiefs’ initial 53-man roster for 2020 revealed after cuts

We’ll probably see some more moves in the next few days, but this is the starting point for the 2020 Chiefs roster.

NFL: AUG 24 Preseason - 49ers at Chiefs Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have made their cuts to get the team’s active roster down to 53 players.

To do so, they kept two quarterbacks, three running backs, one fullback, six wide receivers, four tight ends, nine offensive linemen, 10 defensive linemen, five linebackers, 10 defensive backs and three specialists.

Here is the Kansas City Chiefs’ 53-man roster to begin 2020:


Offense (25)


Quarterbacks (2): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne

Even though Matt Moore was the hero that stepped in for an injured Mahomes in 2019, the team clearly trusts Henne more as an immediate backup. He has been behind Mahomes for the two years he’s started to begin his career, and is likened to having a second quarterbacks coach alongside Mike Kafka. Expect Moore to be a player that the Chiefs target after waivers, and protect on the expanded practice squad this season.

Per Herbie Teope, the Chiefs hope to sign Ta’amu to the practice squad after he clears waivers.

Running backs (3): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson

The Chiefs have kept four running backs on the Week 1 roster in three of the last four seasons, but it appears that they’re bucking that trend this year. Offseason signing DeAndre Washington was cut, leaving Williams and Thompson as the only backups to rookie Edwards-Helaire.

The release of Washington was foreshadowed by the fact that he didn’t get any snaps with the first-team offense during the live-streamed scrimmage. It indicates that the team is valuing continuity, but the cut also proves that Williams and Thompson have impressed the coaching staff at practice.

Fullbacks (1): Anthony Sherman

In April, Sherman was welcomed back on a one-year deal to remain as the starting fullback and a key special teams piece after initially not being re-signed following the 2019 season. Now it’s official: We have (at least) one more year of The Sausage.

Wide receivers (6): Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Marcus Kemp

There is little surprise in the fact that the Chiefs kept the five wide receivers that made up the group for all of 2019. The sixth receiver to make it for 2020 was Kemp, who now has quite a story to tell. He was not tendered by the Chiefs at the end of last season after suffering a torn ACL in training camp. He wasn’t invited to start camp this year, but was eventually worked out and re-signed on August 19th. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has already expressed a readiness to get Kemp back in the mix. Kemp also showed improvement as a receiver during the 2019 training camp.

Kemp beat out fourth-year wide receiver Gehrig Dieter — who is still eligible for the practice squad based on the rules from the new CBA signed this offseason. He also earned the spot over Jody Fortson, who had a strong training camp according to multiple reports.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero — who reported Kalija Lipscomb’s waiver — said that he is a likely practice-squad candidate for the Chiefs.

Tight ends (4): Travis Kelce, Nick Keizer, Deon Yelder, Ricky Seals-Jones

The Chiefs have only started with four tight ends on the initial 53-man roster once in Reid’s tenure as head coach. There are a mix of skillsets behind the All-Pro Kelce. Keizer has emerged as the second tight end used most often for blocking roles. Yelder proved himself as a capable receiver and special teams piece in 2019, while newcomer Seals-Jones must have shown enough as a pass-catcher in camp to make up for his lack of blocking skills or special teams ability.

Yelder has been hurt since the beginning of padded practices, so there could be a move made once he has fully recovered.

Offensive linemen (9): LT Eric Fisher, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Austin Reiter, RG Andrew Wylie, RT Mitchell Schwartz, Mike Remmers, Daniel Kilgore, Nick Allegretti, Yasir Durant

After a thought that the Kilgore signing could be bad for Allegretti, they have both made the roster as capable players at the center position. Remmers is likely the immediate backup to either tackle spot, but Durant has made the team as another tackle option over experienced practice squad players like Jackson Barton and Greg Senat. He is the only undrafted free agent rookie to make the team on offense.

Martinas Rankin will begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform reserve list, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of the season.


Defense (25)


Defensive tackles (4): Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton

The only undrafted free agent defender to make the team will likely be used right away in Week 1. Wharton will be needed with Pennel’s two-game suspension to start the season. The defensive line needs a healthy rotation of more than just three guys for the two spots. There will be defensive ends that can move inside, but Wharton’s big body will still be needed as Nnadi and Saunders get fatigued.

Defensive ends (6): Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Taco Charlton, Michael Danna, Demone Harris

One of the biggest moves of the day was the release of former second-round pick Breeland Speaks. After looking in the best shape he’s been in as a professional football player this camp, the Chiefs went with Harris instead — who filled in admirably as a rotational player during last year’s championship run. Speaks has a dead cap number of $1.3 million, according to Spotrac.

According to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, Danna had a strong training camp and has a “real shot” to be active for the season opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday.

Linebackers (5): Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Willie Gay Jr., Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel

The only question there was to be answered about the linebackers was whether Darius Harris could make the cut this season. Instead, the Chiefs went with what and who they know by choosing O’Daniel to make the team for his third season.

General manager Brett Veach has publicly expressed praise to Harris, who was an undrafted free agent last year. He should be targeted for a practice squad spot if he clears waivers.

Cornerbacks (5): Charvarius Ward, L’Jarius Sneed, Antonio Hamilton, Rashad Fenton, BoPete Keyes

This was the expected group after watching the live-stream of Chiefs practice. All five of these players rotated in with the first-team defense, although Fenton primarily played in the slot.

Once Bashaud Breeland returns from suspension, Keyes may be the man that gets demoted — but is obviously a candidate to be one of the four protected practice squad members.

Safeties (5): Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorensen, Tedric Thompson, Armani Watts

After thought that recent signing Adrian Colbert could earn an active spot, he was released. That leaves five players — four of whom are returning from 2019.


Specialists (3)


Placekicker Harrison Butker, punter Tommy Townsend and long snapper James Winchester

The only uncertainty about any of the Chiefs’ specialists ended when punter Tyler Newsome was released from the team on July 29. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub had made it clear he wanted a punter competition during training camp, but when it became known that camp rosters would be limited to 80 players, that battle became a luxury the team couldn’t afford.


Practice Squad (16)


The Chiefs will not be able to begin building most of their practice squad until one day has passed since the final cutdown deadline on Saturday; most players who will fill it will have been on the team’s 80-man roster and will first have to clear waivers. But under the rules in place for the 2020 season, six of the 16 players each team may carry on its practice squad can have any amount of league experience. So it’s possible the Chiefs could sign one or two practice-squad players from the pool of veteran players just released by other teams — who will not have to go through waivers — before Sunday’s 11 a.m. (Arrowhead Time) waiver claim deadline.


Under contract, not counted on active roster (7)


Reserve/Exempt (suspended): CB Bashaud Breeland, DT Mike Pennel

Reserve/Injured (lost for season): CB Alex Brown

Reserve/PUP: OL Martinas Rankin

Reserve/Opt-Out: OL Lucas Niang, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RB Damien Williams


Waived/Released (25)


OL Jackson Barton, LB Darius Harris, CB Lavert Hill, DT Braxton Hoyett, QB Matt Moore, OL Greg Senat, DE Breeland Speaks, DE Tim Ward, WR Kalija Lipscomb, DT Devaroe Lawrence, LB Omari Cobb, RB DeAndre Washington, QB Jordan Ta’amu, S Rodney Clemons, TE Daniel Helm, CB Chris Lammons, WR Gehrig Dieter, OL Ryan Hunter, WR Jody Fortson, WR Justice Shelton-Mosley, RB Elijah McGuire, OL Darryl Williams, WR Maurice Ffrench, S Adrian Colbert, LB Emmanuel Smith (from IR with injury settlement)