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Chiefs release five players to meet 80-man roster deadline

The team had until 3 p.m. Tuesday to meet the limit.

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Like the rest of the NFL’s teams, the Kansas City Chiefs need to have their roster reduced to 80 players by 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Tuesday. On Monday morning, the Chiefs took care of business, announcing the release (or wavier) of five players through their offical Twitter account.

Three veteran players have been released: defensive end Taco Charlton, defensive back Will Parks and offensive guard Bryan Witzmann. The team also waived two young players: linebacker Riley Cole and quarterback Anthony Gordon.

Among these moves, the release of Charlton — a former first-round pick — is likely the most surprising. He finishes his single Kansas City season after appearing in just seven games, collecting seven tackles (four solo, one for loss), two sacks, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble.

While it didn’t show up in his basic stat line, there were moments last season where he was consistently getting quarterback pressure. But he was also inactive for two games during the first nine weeks of the season — and ended up on injured reserve after having surgery to repair a fractured ankle suffered in Week 9.

It had been hoped that in 2021, a healthy Charlton could have been a more consistent player in the team’s rotation, but after missing a number of training camp practices and the first preseason game — and playing just eight snaps against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night — the Chiefs apparently believe they have better, healthier options available.

Las Vegas Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Parks is a sixth-year player who has had experience all over the secondary with the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles. He was thought to be a veteran signing made in case the team could not find younger players among the rookie class, fit cornerbacks Mike Hughes and Deandre Baker into their plans or couldn’t get injured third-year player Juan Thornhill back into action. It now appears that the Chiefs feel comfortable enough in the secondary to let this particular insurance policy expire.

Witzmann, of course, has a substantial amount of experience with the team, appearing in 28 games over three seasons — starting in 13 of them. He spent a chunk of last season on the team’s practice squad as injuries mounted on the offensive line, ultimately playing in one game.

In the event of injuries, all three of these veteran players — if available — would be considered as players the Chiefs might re-sign. But it’s now highly unlikely that any of them will be on the team’s opening 53-man roster.

Both Cole — a 2021 undrafted free agent — and Gordon could be claimed off the waiver wire by other teams. Gordon’s departure almost certainly means the Chiefs have decided that Shane Buechele will be their third quarterback in 2021. But after impressive performances in the first two preseason games, it may be difficult for the Chiefs to sneak Buechele onto their practice squad at the final cutdown last week — their usual custom with the third quarterback.