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3 Chiefs who could start 2021 on PUP list — and how that might affect others

On Wednesday’s Out of Structure podcast, we discussed how the PUP list could impact the makeup of the roster.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday’s mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Out of Structure podcast, Matt Stagner and I fielded a question pertaining to the Physically Unable to Perform list — and which Kansas City Chiefs players could be candidates to start the season on it.

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The PUP is for players who are entering training camp with an injury. They can be activated from the list and begin practicing, but they are not eligible to return to the list once they’ve participated in at least one practice. If a player stays on the reserve/PUP list through preseason and into the regular season, they don’t count towards an active roster spot — but they must be inactive for the first six weeks.

After those six weeks, the team has five weeks to get the player back on the practice field. Once that starts, the team must put him on the active roster, waive him or put him on injured reserve. That decision must be made within three weeks of his first practice.

Matt and I discussed three players who are candidates for the PUP — and how other players on the roster could benefit from the vacant roster spot:

Cornerback Deandre Baker

According to the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell, Baker was one player who attended mandatory minicamp but did not participate in practice.

As he recovers from last season’s broken leg, Baker could be a player who isn’t ready to contribute right away in 2021. If he is unable to practice, that would leave an already thinned-out position even more undermanned.

No one truly benefits from the Chiefs being thin at an important position, but last year’s seventh-round pick BoPete Keyes could be the biggest beneficiary. In my current projection, I have him outside the 53-man roster — but if Baker is unavailable, he’d be the next man up.

Offensive lineman Kyle Long

After attempting his football comeback after a one-year retirement, Long’s unfortunate leg injury could also make him a prime candidate for the PUP.

It has been reported that he may be ready by the time the season starts — but with his lingering injury issues, they may give him those six weeks to fully recover and give him the chance to feel as good as possible for the stretch run of 2021.

On the flip side, his stay on the PUP would allow other players to step up at right guard and right tackle. Players like Andrew Wylie and Nick Allegretti may earn the roster spot that Long would be vacating by being on the PUP. If the Chiefs get comfortable with the unit they have without Long, there could be a case for Long to be cut outright.

Defensive lineman Malik Herring

Herring’s torn ACL injury during Senior Bowl week all but guarantees that he’ll need a redshirt year during his rookie NFL season — hoping he’ll be able to make the roster in 2022.

It would be similar to defensive end Tim Ward’s situation in 2019, where a college injury forced him to be on the PUP and injured reserve for all of his first year.

Herring’s potential to be on the PUP doesn’t necessarily open up a roster spot for anyone else — if he were healthy, he might not have made the 53-man roster — but this gives him the opportunity to get comfortable with the Chiefs’ system and compete for a roster spot next season.


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