Chiefs establish 53-player roster

Herbie Teope The Kansas City Star (TNS)
Kansas City Chiefs running back Darwin Thompson (34) is congratulated by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) after scoring a touchdown last year against Oakland.

The Chiefs officially established their initial 53-player roster for the 2020 NFL regular season.

Even though the Chiefs met Saturday's league-wide deadline, their current roster should be considered fluid.

Changes can and will happen in the days leading up to Thursday night's season opener against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium; it would be not surprising to see adjustments on the Chiefs' 53 during Sunday's waivers process.

Multiple players the Chiefs waived Saturday are likely to return to the organization Sunday when their 16-player practice squad is established. Practice squads may include 16 players this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the above factors in mind, here is the Chiefs' initial 53-player roster:

QUATERBACKS (2): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne

By releasing Matt Moore and Jordan Ta'amu, the Chiefs elected to open the season with two quarterbacks on their active roster. Moore and Ta'amu, however, are expected to make the practice squad. Additionally, the Chiefs can sign up to six players with more than four accrued seasons, which applies to Moore.

RUNNING BACKS (3): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson

While the release of DeAndre Washington might have surprised some, the backfield hierarchy was settled during camp with Edwards-Helaire, who projects as the starter, Williams and Thompson taking repetitions in that order.

Fullback (1): Anthony Sherman

The Chiefs didn't have competition at the fullback position during training camp, so this was pretty easy.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Marcus Kemp

No surprises here. Look for the Chiefs to likely sign Gehrig Dieter and Jody Fortson to their practice squad, provided the two clear waivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4): Travis Kelce, Nick Keizer, Ricky Seals-Jones, Deon Yelder

Keizer caps off a strong showing in training camp by making the active roster a year removed from spending time on the practice squad. He projects as the complementary tight end to Kelce in the team's 12-personnel package. The biggest surprise about this group surrounds the Chiefs keeping four at the position.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Austin Reiter, Kelechi Osemele, Andrew Wylie, Mike Remmers, Nick Allegretti, Daniel Kilgore, Yasir Durant

The starting five projects to Fisher, Schwartz, Reiter, Osemele and Wylie. Remmers and Allegretti provide flexibility to play both guard spots, while Kilgore is the backup center. Durant, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri, was a surprise here over Jackson Barton and Greg Senat. The Chiefs in all likelihood view Durant as a swing tackle with flexibility to play guard if needed.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (6): Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Taco Charlton, Mike Danna, Demone Harris

Clark and Okafor are the starters, Kpassagnon the top backup. Charlton, a first-round pick by Miami in 2017, gets a third chance to kick-start his career after stints with the Cowboys and Dolphins. By keeping Charlton, Danna and Harris, the Chiefs elected to cut ties with Breeland Speaks, who was a second-round pick in 2018.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton

Wharton, an undrafted free agent out of Missouri S&T, did his part to earn a roster spot with a good showing in training camp. He can play inside or outside depending on the personnel package. The Chiefs will need that versatility with Mike Pennel serving a four-game suspension to start the season.

LINEBACKERS (5): Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Ben Niemann, Willie Gay Jr., Dorian O'Daniel

This group was set in stone during training camp. Look for Niemann to open the season as a starter alongside Hitchens and Wilson in the team's 4-3 base scheme. Gay will likely be eased in while he continues to absorb the intricacies of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's system.

CORNERBACKS (5): Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton, L'Jarius Sneed, Antonio Hamilton, BoPete Keyes

No surprises here. Fenton could start the year at right cornerback in the Chiefs' 4-3 base while Bashaud Breeland serves a four-game suspension. Fenton is likely to move inside against a slot receiver when the Chiefs are in a nickel package, with either Sneed or Hamilton playing at right cornerback.

SAFETIES (5): Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorensen, Tedric Thompson, Armani Watts

The Chiefs didn't have any big question marks at the safety position aside from Thornhill's recovery from last season's knee injury. Thompson, who signed a free-agent deal in late July, provides veteran experience in a backup role if Thornhill suffers a setback.

SPECIALISTS (3): Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, James Winchester

The Chiefs didn't bring in competition for the trio during training camp.


Rankin opened training camp on the PUP list and will officially start the season there. He will not count against the Chiefs' active 53-player roster and won't practice for the first six weeks of the season. Once he returns to on-field work, a 21-day window opens for the Chiefs to decide whether to activate him or shut him down for the rest of the season.


Pennel will miss the Chiefs' first two games, against the Texans and Los Angeles Chargers, while Breeland will miss four games: against the Texans, Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and New England Patriots. Once either player is eligible to return, the Chiefs will need to make a roster move to bring him back.