Kansas City Chiefs: Knile Davis

As NFL offenses continue to evolve and the passing game takes on more prevalence, the running back is losing his value. No back has been selected in the first round of the draft in the past two years.

That trend hasn’t reached Kansas City and the Chiefs, at least when it comes to the value of the featured back. The Chiefs celebrate their backs, who are as important as ever to Kansas City’s offensive fortunes.

Charles
 The Chiefs realize this. They recently gave a contract extension to running back Jamaal Charles, who led the Chiefs in rushing, pass receiving and touchdowns last season. Despite the presence of Charles, the Chiefs drafted a running back in each of the past three years and two of them, Knile Davis and rookie De’Anthony Thomas, join Charles as Kansas City’s preeminent big-play threats.

The Chiefs will wind up cutting at least one back or perhaps two who could play for other teams, Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight.

So excuse Charles if he takes offense at the notion that running backs just aren’t as important as they once were.

 “I don’t think it’s changed,’’ he said. “I think it depends on what style of running back you have. You can have a power back, [but] there are a lot of power backs [who] can’t catch the ball. Or you can have a skilled back [who] is an athlete, can run and catch the ball like a wide receiver. I think that can bring the game back.

“I think running back is the most important [position] on the field because we pick up the blitz, we run the ball, and we catch the ball. So I think we do more than the wide receivers, O-line, and maybe the quarterback. So I think the running back job is really important.”

Charles’ role was even important for the Chiefs in last year’s preseason opener against the Saints in New Orleans. He got the ball eight times, five times on a handoff and three as a receiver and scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run.

But that was the Chiefs' first season under Andy Reid, and they were still trying to find themselves an identity. Charles may not get as much work Thursday night when the Chiefs open their preseason, this time at Arrowhead Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Whatever the coaches do, I’m all with it,’’ Charles said. “If I have to play, I have to play. It’s my job to play football.

“Whatever the coaches think I need . . . I guess I’ve got to go out there and do it. I can’t complain. I’m not going to be selfish. I’m going to do what they tell me.’’
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Dave Toub has been fortunate to work with some great return specialists in his years as a special-teams coach. Toub has another such candidate this year in Chiefs rookie De’Anthony Thomas.

Thomas is fast and quick but has more going for him than that as a punt returner.

“His ability to make the first person miss, he’s got that,’’ said Toub, whose returners over the years have included Devin Hester in Chicago. “It’s the same thing Devin Hester had. The thing we need to work on with [Thomas] right now is his catching and his ball reads. You’ll see him in practice occasionally have to run late to make a catch. It’s just a matter of him seeing the ball where it’s going to be and have the ball chase him and not him chase the ball.’’

The presence of Thomas and Knile Davis as their leading kickoff returner has the Chiefs thinking they can match or surpass the four kick return touchdowns they scored last season. Davis returned one kickoff for a touchdown, as did Quintin Demps. Dexter McCluster scored twice on punt returns.

Demps and McCluster now play for other teams, but the Chiefs are in a good spot with the addition of Thomas. He had five returns for a touchdown in his three collegiate seasons at Oregon.

While Davis will be the main kickoff returner, the Chiefs plan to use Thomas there on occasion.

“There might be a situation where you might have Knile and him in the game at the same time and have a special return designed specifically for De’Anthony,’’ Toub said. “He can do a lot of different things that Knile can’t. Knile is more of a power, speed, straightahead [runner]. That fits our scheme but you can do other things with De’Anthony.’’

 
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- For all the unsolicited advice the Kansas City Chiefs receive about how to best preserve running back Jamaal Charles for the long term, they don’t seem inclined to listen. Days after they fortified Charles’ contract, the Chiefs appear prepared to utilize their best offensive player as much if not more than in seasons past.

Charles
"I think he's got a lot in the tank," coach Andy Reid said. “We're going to keep using him. He's a good football player and he enjoys playing the game, so we'll keep getting him the football."

It's difficult to argue with that strategy. The Chiefs have surrounded Charles with a decent cast of complementary players but they have no one else with his proven record of productivity.

The main backup for Charles is Knile Davis, who when it comes to raw ability has as much as anyone the Chiefs have, Charles included. At 227 pounds, Davis is a bigger, stronger runner than Charles and is every bit as fast.

Davis has come a long way since he joined the Chiefs as a rookie last year but he's still unpolished. He's particularly rough in the passing game, where his skills as a receiver and blocker lag far behind those of Charles. As offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said, "This will be a big camp for him."

With a strong showing at camp, Davis could convince the Chiefs he deserves more playing time. The Chiefs have fiddled with some formations that include both Charles and Davis.

But as far as diminished playing time for Charles, nothing short of injury will make that happen.

"He may not get more touches," Pederson said of Davis. "He may get more plays. We just pick our spots. There are certain plays for Knile and certain plays for Jamaal. Sometimes it's a feel thing: 'Hey, let's get Jamaal [a rest for a play or two] and then get him back in the game.'"
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some observations from today's Kansas City Chiefs minicamp practice:
  • Rookie Zach Fulton, a sixth-round draft pick from Tennessee, continued his bid for a starting spot at right guard. Fulton split the starter's snaps with Rishaw Johnson. The Chiefs will get a better gauge on how advanced Fulton is at training camp, where they can wear full pads. But for now at least they are pleased with what they have seen from Fulton.
  • The Chiefs again practiced without linebacker Justin Houston, who is holding out, and cornerback Sean Smith, who is ill. Offensive tackle Donald Stephenson (calf), tight end Sean McGrath (knee) and cornerback Phillip Gaines (ankle) left practice early. Tackle Eric Fisher (shoulder), wide receivers Weston Dressler (hamstring) and Kyle Williams (knee) and tight end Travis Kelce (knee) participated only in individual and position drills. Left guard Jeff Allen moved to left tackle after Stephenson left practice.
  • Poe
    Nose tackle Dontari Poe made an impressive play for a big man. He began a pass rush but quickly sniffed out a screen pass. He hustled over to the receiver, Jamaal Charles, and trapped him in the backfield.
  • Tight end Anthony Fasano had a big day, making several catches.
  • Aaron Murray didn't get a lot of snaps at quarterback, but he made the throw of the day when he zipped a sideline throw to Deon Anthony that drew raves from his teammates.
  • Running back Knile Davis struggled to learn to catch kickoffs last season, but improved as the season progressed. But his old habit returned when he dropped one during a special teams drill.
  • Defensive back Sanders Commings got an interception when either quarterback Alex Smith threw a bad pass or wide receiver Donnie Avery ran the wrong route.
Here is this week's edition of the Kansas City Chiefs mailbag. To ask a question for a future edition, send it to me via Twitter (@adamteicher) and tag it #ChiefsMail.

 
Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs' roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We'll continue here with the running backs.

End of 2013: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, Anthony Sherman.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Charles, Davis, Gray, Sherman, Joe McKnight.

Analysis: For our purposes, we’re going to count rookie De'Anthony Thomas as a receiver and not a running back. He may play some here but Charles and Davis should get most of the playing time. So this group could be the same unless there’s an injury or McKnight is able to steal Gray’s roster spot. Sooner or later, Charles' ability to deliver consistently huge production will drop off, but I’m not going to predict it this year. Davis came a long way from the start of last season to the finish. If he’s recovered from his broken leg, he’s capable of giving the Chiefs more than he did last season. Sherman, the fullback, should have another big season as the lead blocker.

Better or worse? Slightly better based off predicted improvement from returning players.
Some notes from the opening of the Kansas City Chiefs' offseason program:

-- Chairman Clark Hunt said shortly before the Super Bowl that a contract extension for quarterback Alex Smith might take some time. He was right. Smith is still without the extension.

There's no urgency on the part of the Chiefs to get the deal done. Smith is under contract for this season and the Chiefs don't need to create room under the salary cap to get through this season.

A new deal sooner rather than later might benefit Smith, who had a nice first season for the Chiefs as their starting quarterback. He finished the season with a flourish. Smith's numbers got better over the second half of the season and then he completed 30 of 46 for 378 yards and four touchdowns in the playoff loss to Indianapolis.

"I had no date as far as expectation," Smith said. "I still have a year on my contract. I don't know when it will get done.

"I've played long enough, going into Year 10 now, it's all year to year in my mind anyway. You've got to continually prove yourself. I don't think it changes anything as far as my mindset or approach to the game at all."

-- In injury news other than that with tackle Eric Fisher, coach Andy Reid said running back Knile Davis didn't need surgery for his broken leg and has resumed his workouts. Reid indicated tight end Travis Kelce was in a similar situation after having surgery last year for a knee ailment. Reid also said defensive back Sanders Commings had a surgery for an injury he wouldn't specify but that Commings had been cleared for offseason work. Commings broke his collarbone during training camp last year, played in two games and was then placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

-- Wide receiver Kyle Williams, whose season ended in November with a torn ACL, re-signed with the Chiefs on a one-year contract. Given the timing of the injury, the Chiefs obviously can't expect much from Williams. His agent, Wynn Silberman, said Williams was hopeful of being able to participate in training camp.

-- Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was arrested for marijuana possession in November, but the case was resolved last week when he pleaded guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective equipment. The marijuana charge was dropped.

Bowe could still conceivably be suspended by the NFL, but Bowe said he believed that to be unlikely.

"I don't think so," Bowe said. "I pray I don't. I'm glad it's over and I'm ready to show everybody, to erase that memory in their heads and get back to playing football."
The Kansas City Chiefs drafted last year for the first time with John Dorsey as their general manager and Andy Reid as their head coach. This will be a much different draft for the Chiefs, who had four of the top 99 picks last year. They have just one of the top 86 this year.

But a look back can provide some idea of what the Chiefs can expect from this year’s draft.

 

The season behind: The Chiefs didn’t get much from this group when they were rookies. In fact, their rookie of the year was a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, cornerback Marcus Cooper. Fisher started 13 games at right tackle but his season wasn’t what could reasonably be expected from the first overall pick in the draft. His play was uneven at best, particularly earlier in the season. He struggled as a pass-blocker against stronger opponents and their power moves. He proved unreliable, missing three regular-season starts plus the playoff game with injuries ranging from shoulder to concussion to groin. The Chiefs were counting on productive playing time from Kelce and Commings before injuries cost them all of their rookie seasons. Kelce in the preseason developed a knee ailment that eventually required surgery. Commings broke his collarbone during the first practice of training camp. The Chiefs were hopeful Johnson could be a starter at inside linebacker, but a preseason injury set him back and he never made a serious challenge. Kush and Catapano were drafted as developmental players and that’s the role both settled into, though injuries forced the Chiefs to use Catapano at times and he showed some pass-rush ability. Wilson was a huge disappointment, even as a sixth-round pick. He was cut during the preseason and the Chiefs didn’t think enough of him to bring him back to their practice squad.

The seasons ahead: Fisher may be the only full-time player from this group again in 2014, but it’s reasonable to believe the Chiefs could still get some production from the others -- Wilson being the exception. The Chiefs are confident that despite his rocky debut season, Fisher will eventually become the player they envisioned when they drafted him. He will move over to left tackle after playing on the right side and should benefit greatly from an offseason in the Chiefs’ weight program. Commings could wind up as the starter at free safety if the Chiefs don’t draft a player to fill that position. Otherwise, the Chiefs will look for ways to get him on the field. He was going to challenge for playing time in their nickel defense last year before his injury. The Chiefs are eager to get Kelce involved in their passing game. He was very involved before his injury. The Chiefs lined him up in a variety of spots to best use his ability to get down the field and beat coverage to make catches. Davis became more involved as last season went on and should get more playing time this year, assuming the leg he broke in the playoff game allows him to and his fumbling habit doesn’t reappear. Eventually, Davis could be the replacement for Jamaal Charles. At 227 pounds, he’s bigger and more powerful than Charles and he’s fast for a player his size. He probably won’t ever give the Chiefs what Charles delivered as a pass receiver last season. It speaks to what the Chiefs think of Johnson that one of their first moves in free agency was to sign veteran Joe Mays to be a starter at inside linebacker. Johnson may be a special-teamer for whatever remains of his Chiefs career. Catapano may never develop into a full-time player but his ability as a pass-rusher gives him a shot at a lesser role. Similarly, Kush may continue to be a backup, but watch what the Chiefs do with starting center Rodney Hudson, who is scheduled to become a free agent next year. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Chiefs, Kush could inherit the spot if he develops as the Chiefs hope.

Best pick: As expected for the first overall pick, Fisher should become this draft’s best player. Despite his struggles last season, he frequently showed the athletic ability a great offensive tackle needs. But Kelce should eventually become the best pick from a value standpoint. He could become the Chiefs’ best pass receiver at tight end since the traded Tony Gonzalez.

Worst pick: Since Wilson couldn’t hang around until the end of his rookie preseason, he has to qualify, for now. The others still have a chance to be productive players. But the situation doesn’t look good for Johnson, either. As an inside linebacker, he would be a part-time player, coming out of the game on passing downs. But the Chiefs evidently believe he’s not advanced enough to handle it yet.
Let's take a closer look at the salary-cap situation for the Kansas City Chiefs. As of last week, and this information should still be up to date, the Chiefs had $4,379,280 of remaining salary-cap space. That ranked 25th among the NFL's 32 teams.

Here, we'll look at how the Chiefs' cap situation breaks down with regard to offensive positions. Later, we'll look at defense and special teams.

Quarterbacks

Salary-cap commitments: $11,898,333

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 9.2

NFL average: $11,667,289

Chiefs rank on QB spending: 15th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending about 2 percent more than the league average on their quarterbacks. This will change when they extend the contract of starter Alex Smith, who currently counts $8 million against their cap. That's tied for the 15th-highest QB cap number with Oakland's Matt Schaub. Chase Daniel's salary-cap number of $3.4 million is fifth among players listed as backups on their team's depth chart, but Daniel is the only one of those five who has never been a starter.

Running backs

Salary-cap commitments: $7,775,255

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 6

NFL average: $7,750,422

Chiefs rank on RB spending: 13th among 32 teams

Analysis: Again, the Chiefs are very close to the league average in spending at this position. Most of their cap allotment at this position goes, of course, to Jamaal Charles. His cap number is $5,233,333. Charles is still a bargain at that price. His cap number is just 10th among NFL running backs this year. Knile Davis has the Chiefs' next highest cap number for a running back at $646,504 but that puts him far down the league's list of runners.

Wide receivers

Salary-cap commitments: $16,366,594

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 12.7

NFL average: $13,534,504

Chiefs rank on WR spending: ninth among 32 teams

Analysis: Here's where the Chiefs' spending gets out of line, both for the league average and what they're getting for the money. The Chiefs are spending 21.75 percent more than the league average on wide receivers but last season that group was last in the league in pass receptions and yardage. Dwayne Bowe leads the way with a $12 million cap charge. That's the sixth-highest cap number in the NFL for a player who caught 57 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season last year.

Tight ends

Salary-cap commitments: $6,122,076

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 4.7

NFL average: $6,137,131

Chiefs rank on TE spending: 15th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending very close to the league average at this position. Most of their spending here goes to the starter, Anthony Fasano. His cap number is $4,281,250, giving him the 11th highest figure at his position. Travis Kelce has the next highest cap number for a tight end at $700,826 but he's well down the league list for this position.

Offensive linemen

Salary-cap commitments: $12,314,356

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 9.5

NFL average: $21,449,958

Chiefs rank on OL spending: 31st among 32 teams

Analysis: Here the Chiefs drop well below the league average in positional spending. Only the Detroit Lions are spending less in salary cap on their offensive line. This is the byproduct of allowing three regulars from last season to leave as free agents. Meanwhile, the linemen who have the top three salary-cap figures are working under the contracts they signed as rookies. Left tackle Eric Fisher, the first overall pick in last year's draft, has far and away the highest salary-cap number for a lineman at $5,043,295. Even at that, Fisher has the 43rd highest cap number for an offensive lineman. Left guard Jeff Allen ($1,266,497) and center Rodney Hudson ($1,115,577) are next.
The notion of building a team though the NFL draft and using free agency as a mere supplemental tool is a proven one. The NFL teams that have been successful over long periods during the free-agency era have generally used this method.

But it puts a lot of pressure on a team to get things right each year through the draft. It doesn’t have to get one or more eventual Pro Bowlers every year, but the teams that do in this way certainly can't afford to whiff in the draft, any draft.

Judging from their words and this year's actions, the Kansas City Chiefs plan on being one of those teams. That’s fine, but they had better use their six draft picks to maximum an advantage.

ESPN.com’s Jeffri Chadiha takes it a step further in his latest column, suggesting no NFL team needs to get it right in this year’s draft more than the Chiefs. Chadiha writes that if the Chiefs don’t find more difference-makers, they’re primed to slide backward next season after winning 11 games and making the playoffs last year.

It's impossible to argue with that. Given the way the Chiefs wobbled the last half of last season, it was obvious they would need an upgrade at some key spots for this year. Not only has that yet to happen, but the Chiefs have watched as many of their competitors, including division rivals Denver and Oakland, loaded up.

But with just six picks and only one in the top 86, immediate expectations for this year’s draft should be minimal. Because of that, last year’s draft is more important to 2014 success for the Chiefs than this year’s crop of rookies.

As Chadiha noted, last year’s draft picks were disappointing as a group. The Chiefs' rookie of the year was Marcus Cooper, a cornerback they pulled off waivers at the beginning of the regular season, and not one of their own eight selections.

For the Chiefs to go anywhere in 2014, their 2013 rookies have to get better. Tackle Eric Fisher needs to play a lot more like the first overall pick in the draft. What running back Knile Davis gave them late last season, he needs to give all season. Tight end Travis Kelce and defensive back Sanders Commings have to overcome the injuries that ruined their rookie seasons and be the players the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted them.

If this happens, then the 2014 Chiefs can prosper without much immediate help from their rookies. If not, it might not matter how the Chiefs fare in this year’s draft.
On to this week's questions for the Kansas City Chiefs mailbag:

On the surface, Devin Hester joining the Kansas City Chiefs made too much sense for it not to happen.

Hester
After losing Dexter McCluster and Quintin Demps to free agency, the Chiefs need a return specialist. Hester, perhaps the greatest return specialist in NFL history after being set free by the Chicago Bears, needed a job. Then there was the angle of Hester being reunited in Kansas City with his special teams coach for much of his time with the Bears, Dave Toub.

But as with many things, money got in the way. Hester's price tag was too much for the Chiefs, who may have taken Hester at a lower cost. But Hester's price was met by the Atlanta Falcons, removing him from the pool of available free agents. Hester and the Falcons agreed on a three-year contract.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid also prefers his return specialist do another job whether as a running back, wide receiver or defensive back. That probably wouldn't have been a deal breaker in bringing Hester to Kansas City but may have been a factor as to why the Chiefs weren't more aggressive in pursuing him.

With Hester out of the picture, the Chiefs are still in the market for a return specialist. They reportedly met with journeyman Micheal Spurlock but appear to prefer using a rookie, perhaps in combination with the players they already have.

Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU is one of the better return specialists available in the draft and can also fulfill Reid's preference for the returner to help elsewhere. Beckham could also help the Chiefs as a wide receiver. The problem is that Beckham may not still be available by the time the Chiefs make their first choice, 23rd overall.

The leading in-house candidates are running backs Joe McKnight and Knile Davis and slot receiver Weston Dressler.
Jamaal CharlesPeter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesJamaal Charles has 5,823 rushing yards in six seasons, and is yearning to add to that total in 2014.
Recently, shortly before he was named the Kansas City Chiefs' Most Valuable Player for the fourth time in five seasons, Jamaal Charles sent a message on his Twitter account that left no doubt he is preparing for more.

"I miss coming out the tunnel," Charles wrote, referring to the Chiefs' path to the playing field at Arrowhead Stadium. "So ready for next season."

Charles looked ready for the season as he accepted his award at a Kansas City hotel. He sounded mainly as if he would be just killing time before the Chiefs gather again in April for the start of their offseason program.

"It hurt me not playing that last game of the season," Charles said, referring to the concussion that forced him out in the first quarter of the playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. "I'm so excited to be able to get back. I can't wait to run down that tunnel one more time. Just having a coach like Andy Reid helping me out, advancing my career as a player and putting me in great positions ... I never thought I could score as many touchdowns as I did last year."

Charles led the NFL with 19 total touchdowns, three more than the next highest player. The Chiefs relied on him like never before and he responded by leading them in not only rushing but receiving, as well.

That he proclaimed himself ready in March for another big workload is encouraging for the Chiefs, but how much can Charles have left? He won't turn 28 until late December but will be heading into his seventh season in 2014. At 200 pounds, he doesn't appear built for such a heavy workload year in and year out.

Charles isn't concerned about his own football mortality, though no player ever is until the end is upon him. He also said he felt playing in Reid's offense will extend his career.

"[Reid's offense] puts me in space where I can catch the ball out of the backfield and make a move, make somebody miss," said Charles, who sometime early next season should pass Priest Holmes as the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher. "He wasn't always trying to get somebody to get a big hit on me.

"I have at least five [more] years in me. I'll know when my time is up. I'm 27 years old. Probably when I'm 32 I'll just want to look back to see what I've done. I'm having a great career so far and putting up great numbers. As long as I continue to do those things in my five years, it would be amazing. I'd look back and call it quits."

Davis
To the extent they can be, the Chiefs are concerned about the end coming for Charles sooner rather than later. Kansas City drafted Knile Davis in the third round last year. He's a raw prospect, and the Chiefs knew they could give him some time to develop.

Davis' rookie season was uneven. It began with him running the wrong plays and frequently fumbling. It ended with Davis having made significant improvement and earning more of Reid's trust. But then Davis broke his leg in the playoff game.

The Chiefs believe Davis will be ready for full duty when next season begins and Reid indicated he plans to use Davis more and Charles less.

The dilemma? While Davis, who at 227 pounds is much bigger than Charles and perhaps just as fast, is a big-play threat, he's not yet in Charles' class in that regard. Every time Reid removes Charles from the lineup, he will wonder whether that was the play on which Charles would have taken the ball the distance.

"That's what you have to weigh as a coach," Reid said. "You have to make sure you give him enough opportunities where he can show his greatness but at the same time make sure that he makes it all the way through the season and the championship game and the Super Bowl."

It's a difficult line for a coach to draw, the one between preserving a very important asset and trying to win a game. Many times, particularly when a team is in a close game, the future can wait.

"You have a player who wants the football," Reid said of Charles. "He loves playing the game, and you have a coach who kind of likes giving it to him."

Q and A: Should KC draft a QB?

February, 22, 2014
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Another week, another excellent batch of Kansas City Chiefs questions for the mailbag. Here we go:
 

Dressler, McKnight deserve long looks

February, 21, 2014
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The offseason truly hasn’t started but the Chiefs have already added a couple of intriguing skill players who deserve to get a long look once practice begins in the spring. One is Weston Dressler, the veteran CFL slot receiver, and the other is Joe McKnight, a running back who washed out with the New York Jets but could find a home in Andy Reid’s offense.

“They’re skill players that can help us out,’’ Reid said at the NFL’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis. “I want to see what they can do in our system whether it’s in the wide receiver/slot position or whether it’s in the running back position [and whether McKnight is able] to flex out and do some of the things we ask our running backs to do.

“You have return ability by both of them. [Dressler] is a receiver and he’s a smaller guy that’s quick. He was an exciting player when he was in Canada. McKnight is a running back and he gives you some flexibility just by the things he does catching the football.’’

Dressler could be the replacement for Dexter McCluster, who will be an unrestricted free agent if he doesn’t receive a new contract from the Chiefs before the signing period begins next month. McCluster had a big season for the Chiefs as a punt returner last year but should be easier for Dressler to replace as a slot receiver, where he never had much of an impact.

McKnight’s path to playing time is less obvious. The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis as their running backs, so unless there’s an injury to one or both players McKnight probably wouldn’t get a lot of work. But, as Reid said, he does have the ability to return kicks and the Chiefs might lose to free agency not only McCluster but also Quintin Demps, who brought back kickoffs last season.

The Chiefs have no money invested in either player. Neither was given a bonus cash to sign, so if either or both wash out, the Chiefs have lost nothing. They are the best gambles to take.

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