by John Unrein
The Kansas City Chiefs have been busy during this last week. The organization drafted six new players as well as signing eighteen undrafted rookie free agents. The subsequent releases of reserve quarterback Kyle Shurmur and veteran punter Dustin Colquitt have followed.
Colquitt admitted on Twitter that recent days have been hard.
“Not my terms…this is tough,” Colquitt wrote in a post.
“I have enjoyed my time in Chiefs Kingdom, all things come to an end, sometimes sooner than you hoped, prayed and pleaded for them to.”
Colquitt continued, “I’ll miss walking into the building and smelling the coffee, talking to everyone. It took me forever to weave through some of the most loving people you’d ever hope to work with. I was a young kid when I first walked into Arrowhead. Hell, the indoor facility used to be 70 yards long. Holding this post for 15 years has been an honor that I never took for granted. Thank you KC.,”
Colquitt is referred to by Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid as one of the greatest Chiefs of all time. The record for most punting yards (50,393) as well as game appearances (250, including playoff games) are both held by the punter the Chiefs drafted in the third round out of the University of Tennessee in 2005.
He was drafted high for a punter due to his penchant for directional kicking and placing the football inside the opponents 20 yard line on punts. Field position is paramount in football.
Being a left footed punter that puts opposite spin on the football can be harder for punt returners to catch. Thus, requiring more preparation in practice in the week leading up to a game.
All of this led to then Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil saying, “Drafting Dustin in the third round is like getting another starter for our team, as special teams is one-third of the game.”
The NFL website reveals that Colquitt has only seen a slight regression in his numbers over the last three seasons. Colquitt’s yard per punt average has gone from 45.2, to 44.9, to 44.3 from the 2017 through 2019 seasons. His longest punts have gone for 77 yards in 2017, to 67 yards in 2018, to 68 yards in 2019. More importantly, it was visible that Colquitt carried the respect of his teammates and coaching staff. That can be rare in professional football for a kicker or punter.
Fans around the Kansas City area have lamented the release of the longest tenured Chief. Recent years have seen Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, and now Dustin Colquitt end their tenure with the team, in what has seemed like the ending of an era. Colquitt’s release means that no player remains on the roster from when Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City in 2013. That is the nature of professional football.
Colquitt was due to make $2.65 million in 2020 per the National Football League website. The Chiefs save $2 million in salary cap room by releasing him, money that will no doubt be used to sign this year’s draft class. Not to mention the pending interest of Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach in locking up quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones to long term contracts.
The most likely candidates to replace Colquitt are already on the Chiefs roster. Punter Tyler Newsome had a strong career at Notre Dame prior to spending part of his early career with the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs also signed University of Florida punter, Tommy Townsend, who many viewed to be the best punter coming out of college football this year after the draft.
Townsend’s rookie contract will include $82,500 in guaranteed money, including a $7,500 signing bonus per Gator Sports website. Townsend’s stat line no doubt helped him secure a good contract as an undrafted rookie free agent. The Ray Guy Award semifinalist (given to the best punter in college football) totaled 1,847 yards on 42 punts, averaging 44 yards per kick, in 2019. The Orlando, Florida native would also go on to record 11 punts over 50 yards and had 20 punts downed inside the 20 yard line in 2019.
NFL Draft Diamonds explained in September of 2019 that 30.9% of team rosters in the league were made up of undrafted rookie free agents. That 14.3% of rosters were 1st round draft picks, 11.0% were 2nd round draft picks, 11.1% were 3rd round draft picks, 9.9% were 4th round draft picks, 8.6% were 5th round draft picks, 8.4% were 6th round picks, and 5.7% were 7th round picks.
The Chiefs apparent draft strategy was to add positional depth on offense and speed on defense. Louisiana State Running Back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the team’s first round pick, will team with veteran Damien Williams to form a one-two punch in the backfield behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Six foot seven offensive tackle Lucas Niang was selected in the third round out of Texas Christian University. The 328 pound offensive lineman provides positional versatility, being able to play both offensive guard and tackle.
Niang boasts what few can, as the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young admitted it was a tough day going against Niang when they faced off during their college career. Niang’s 2019 season ended prematurely as he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
Second round draft pick Willie Gay Jr.’s official NFL combine 40 yard dash time was 4.46 seconds (4.4 seconds is considered world class speed in the 40 yard dash). The linebacker and former Mississippi State Bulldog will join Louisiana Tech defensive back L’Jarius Sneed and his 4.37 official NFL combine 40 yard dash time to help keep pace on defense for the Chiefs in the track meet that is becoming the AFC West Division.
Gay Jr. will join Chris Jones, Martinas Rankin, Darryl Williams, and Braxton Hoyett as one of five former Mississippi State Bulldogs on the Chiefs 90 man roster heading into the 2020 season. Veach has gone on record as saying he feels that Mississippi State players have arrived in the NFL well coached and possessing the tools needed for the offensive and defensive schemes the Chiefs play.
Each NFL team has the goal of starting their offseason program with a three-deep depth chart at each position. Muddying the waters is cornerback Bashaud Breeland’s recent arrest.
According to a report published by ESPN’s Adam Teicher, Breeland was arrested Tuesday, April 28th in York County, South Carolina on multiple charges. They include resisting arrest, having alcohol in a motor vehicle with the seal broken, having an open container of beer or wine in a motor vehicle, possession of 28 grams or less of marijuana or 10 grams of hash, and driving without a license.
Here is a current positional breakdown of the Chiefs roster.
Quarterback- Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Jordan Ta’amu
Running Back- Damien Williams, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darwin Thompson, DeAndre Washington, Darrel Williams, Mike Weber, Elijah McGuire
Fullback- Anthony Sherman, John Lovett
Tight End- Travis Kelce, Ricky Seals-Jones, Deon Yelder, Nick Keizer, Alize Mack
Wide Receiver- Andre Baccellia, Felton Davis, Gehrig Dieter, Jody Fortson, Mecole Hardman, Aleva Hifo, Tyreek Hill, Kalija Lipscomb, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, Justice Shelton-Mosely, Sammy Watkins, Cody White
Offensive Line- Nick Allegretti, Jackson Barton, Yasir Durant, Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Jovahn Fair, Eric Fisher, Ryan Hunter, Lucas Niang, Martinas Rankin, Austin Reiter, Mike Remmers, Mitchell Schwartz, Greg Senat, Darryl Williams, Andrew Wylie
Defensive Line- Frank Clark, Michael Danna, Demone Harris, Braxton Hoyett, Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Devaroe Lawrence, Derrick Nnadi, Alex Okafor, Mike Pennel, Khalen Saunders, Breeland Speaks, Tim Ward, Tershawn Wharton
Linebacker- Omari Cobb, Willie Gay Jr., Darius Harris, Anthony Hitchens, Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel, Emmanuel Smith, Damien Wilson, Bryan Wright
Cornerback- Hakeem Bailey, Alex Brown, Javaris Davis, Lavert Hill, Bashaud Breeland, Rashad Fenton, Antonio Hamilton, Bopete Keyes, Chris Lammons, L’Jarius Sneed, Chavarius Ward
Safety- Rodney Clemons, Jalen Julius, Andrew Soroh, Armani Watts, Daniel Sorensen, Tyrann Mathieu
Long Snapper- James Winchester
Kicker- Harrison Butker
Punter- Tommy Townsend, Tyler Newsome