The Kansas City Chiefs have confirmed that on Sunday morning, the team signed undrafted free-agent rookie cornerback Kahlef Hailassie.
No contract details are yet available.
During the hours following the conclusion of the NFL Draft, the Western Kentucky prospect was reported to have been signed by the New York Jets. In fact, reports indicated New York had signed him to a deal guaranteeing him $167,500 of his $750,000 rookie salary.
But after that, something went wrong. Hailassie was not on the list of 13 new UDFA signings the Jets released on Friday morning. Nor was he on the list of 51 tryout players Kansas City was hosting during the weekend’s rookie minicamp.
But late on Sunday night, Hailassie indicated on social media that he had joined the Chiefs.
Our Pete Sweeney reports that Hailassie was present for both Saturday and Sunday’s minicamp sessions in Kansas City, but was helmetless on Saturday — which usually indicates a player is working through an injury.
This all suggests that immediately after the draft, both the Chiefs and Jets were trying to sign Hailassie — but the Jets made a better offer. After signing him, though, New York changed its mind — perhaps after a physical revealed a previously unknown injury. While this is speculative, it does fit the known facts of the situation.
As we’ve previously reported on these pages, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Hailassie was among the players Kansas City brought in for a pre-draft top-30 visit. Ron Kopp’s film review described him as “more of a playmaker in coverage than he is as a tackler.”
Hailassie is projected to be a Day 3 selection in the NFL Draft — but his name could be called early in the day. His profile is similar to Kansas City cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams. While Hailassie may not have the size that either of them possess, he may have an edge in both athleticism and movement skills — while still showing aggressiveness in coverage.
But both Watson and Williams are very willing tacklers, which allows them to be effective against the run. If Kansas City selects Hailassie, that’s where he will have to improve.
Hailassie’s signing brings the team’s roster to its full complement of 90 players. Kansas City actually has 91 players under contract, but has a roster exemption for Nigerian defensive end Chukwuebuka Godrick, who has joined the Chiefs under the NFL’s International Pathways Program.