The Chiefs finally pared their roster from 75 to 53 men on Saturday, per league rules, and there were certainly a handful of surprises.
Among the notable cuts were kicker Ryan Succop, linebacker Nico Johnson and safety Malcolm Bronson, right guard Ricky Henry and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.
The Chiefs also placed quarterback Tyler Bray and receiver Kyle Williams on injured reserve, and defensive end Mike Catapano on the non-football injury list.
Others who were cut include receiver Mark Harrison, defensive end Kona Schwenke, safety Jonathan Amaya, running back Charcandrick West cornerback Justin Rogers, linebacker Devan Walker, defensive tackle Kyle Love, fullback Jordan Campbell, defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, tackle J'Marcus Webb, receiver Fred Williams and linebacker Alonzo Highsmith.
Receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, who will both miss the season opener due to suspension, will open the year on the reserve-suspended list and will not count against the 53-man roster.
The most significant move is the release of Succop, who has served as the Chiefs’ starting placekicker for the last five seasons. Succop made 81 percent of his field goals over five years but got beat out by rookie Cairo Santos, despite a strong preseason performance. Succop’s large cap numbers — $2.7 million this year, $3.5 million next year and $3.2 million in 2016 — could have also played a role, as Santos will only make a fraction of that. By cutting Succop, the Chiefs stand to gain roughly $2 million in cap space this year, $2.5 million next year and $3 million in 2016.
The decision to place Bray on injured reserve was also notable because it allows the Chiefs to retain all four of their quarterbacks. Bray was in competition with Chase Daniel for the backup job, but Daniel proved to be more consistent and the Chiefs weren’t going to cut ties with rookie Aaron Murray, a fifth-round pick.
The Chiefs also have interesting situations at running back — where they are currently keeping six players, Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas, Anthony Sherman, Joe McKnight and Cyrus Gray — and tight end, where they are keeping four — Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Richard Gordon.
Johnson was the Chiefs’ fourth-round draft pick in 2013, but got injured during training camp last season and never made an impact. He spent the entirety of this year’s camp on the third team behind backups James-Michael Johnson and Josh Mauga.
Bronson spent last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad but spent the entirety of the preseason on the second team, though undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen logged three starts with the first-team as Eric Berry sat due to an injured heel. His release means veteran Kelcie McCray, who was recently acquired via trade, has made the team.
Henry was claimed off waivers last August and slowly rose up the Chiefs’ depth chart during the preseason, even splitting the first-team snaps at left guard with Jeff Linkenbach when starter Jeff Allen slid out to right tackle to replace Donald Stephenson, who was recently suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Henry’s release means backups Jeff Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn and rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardif — who spent the entire preseason behind Henry on the depth chart — claim spots on the initial 53-man roster. Henry, however, would seem to be a prime practice-squad candidate if he clears waivers Sunday.
Van Dyke, a former third-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2011, was signed to a reserve-futures contract in January after a stint with Pittsburgh. Van Dyke served as the Chiefs’ sixth cornerback throughout the preseason and was praised for his play by coach Andy Reid, but suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale against Green Bay on Thursday and could have been out for an undetermined amont of time.
Van Dyke was placed on the waived-injured list, however, which means that if he clears waivers, the Chiefs can retain the 25-year-old’s rights by placing him on injured reserve.
The Chiefs cut their roster down from 75 to 53 men on Saturday. Here’s the opening-day roster, as of Saturday.
Quarterbacks (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray: The knee and ankle injuries to Tyler Bray were fortuitous, allowing the Chiefs to keep all four of their quarterbacks. They just couldn’t pass on the chance to keep developing that rare arm talent.
Running backs (5): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas, Joe McKnight, Cyrus Gray: The Chiefs are keeping five running backs, which is unorthodox. McKnight offers a greater offensive ceiling, but Gray is a valued special teamer. Not sure how long they can reasonably keep five, though.
Fullbacks (1): Anthony Sherman: The Chiefs cut fullback Jordan Campbell, but he is eligible for the practice squad.
Receivers (5): Donnie Avery, Frankie Hammond, Albert Wilson, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins: Dwayne Bowe gets placed on the reserve-suspended list, while slot receiver Kyle Williams gets placed on injured reserve. Wilson and Hemingway earned most of the reps in the slot during the preseason, so it will be interesting to see how that shakes up.
Tight ends (4): Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Richard Gordon: The decision to keep four tight ends says a lot about the need for more offensive weapons. It’s also an indication they feel they need insurance for the first three guys, due to injury history or inexperience.
Offensive line (9): Eric Fisher, Mike McGlynn, Rodney Hudson, Zach Fulton, Jeff Allen, Eric Kush, Jeff Linkenbach, Ryan Harris, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The Chiefs essentially jettisoned guard Ricky Henry in favor of the raw sixth-round rookie in Duvernay-Tardif. Henry is eligible for the practice squad, however.
Defensive line (5): Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito, Jaye Howard, Vance Walker: This was a surprise, especially when you consider that DeVito missed the entire preseason slate with a fractured hand, and two guys who were cut — Kyle Love and Dominique Hamilton — played reasonably well during the preseason. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts, though the need to have a bunch of interior linemen is diminished by the rate teams are now throwing the ball.
Outside linebacker (5): Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Josh Martin, Frank Zombo: No one was cut here. Zombo’s ability to play both inside and outside helped him.
Inside linebacker (4): Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson: The Chiefs didn’t place Joe Mays on injured reserve, at least not yet. Stay tuned. They cut 2013 fourth-round pick Nico Johnson. Johnson simply couldn’t surpass Mauga and James-Michael Johnson on the depth chart.
Cornerback (5): Marcus Cooper, Sean Smith, Ron Parker, Chris Owens, Phillip Gaines: It would have been nice if DeMarcus Van Dyke didn’t suffer a high ankle sprain against the Packers. He played well enough to merit roster consideration, but he was cut.
Safety (4): Eric Berry, Husain Abdullah, Daniel Sorensen, Kelcie McCray: The Chiefs make a slightly surprising move to cut Malcolm Bronson, a second-teamer, in favor of McCray, who was recently acquired in a trade. Bronson is eligible for the practice squad but he’ll keep his options open.
Specialists (3): Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Gafford: The biggest cut of the day goes to veteran kicker Ryan Succop, who likely lost his job to the comparable Santos due to money. Succop won’t be out of the NFL long.