Lucas Niang

Chiefs Place Four Players On PUP List

The Chiefs are the latest team set to begin training camp with a few noticeable absentees. The team has placed four players on the active/PUP list, per Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (Twitter link). 

The lone defender on the list is cornerback Rashad Fenton. In May, it was reported that the 25-year-old wasn’t a lock to be healthy by the start of camp. He is rehabbing a shoulder injury which required offseason surgery, and kept him out of spring workouts. He is likely to be slated at No. 3 on Kansas City’s depth chart at the position, which has seen plenty of turnover this offseason. His steady growth in playing time and effectiveness could make him not only an important piece in the team’s secondary upon his return, but a priority for the Chiefs from a financial standpoint.

On the offensive line, right tackle Lucas Niang is another unsurprising inclusion. He suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon in January, marking the latest example of availability concerns associated with the former third-rounder. A 2020 opt-out, Niang has played just 12 total games two years into his NFL career, including nine starts. He was replaced when out of the lineup last season by veteran Andrew Wylie, who was brought back on a one-year deal in free agency. The two will compete for the starting role upon Niang’s return. Backup linemen Prince Tega Wanogho is also among the players placed on the list.

Finally, the Chiefs will have to wait for the training camp debut of perhaps the most notable UDFA of the 2022 draft class. Wide receiver Justyn Ross recently underwent foot surgery, as noted by Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams. The former Clemson star was widely thought of as a surefire first-rounder before multiple neck injuries derailed his junior campaign and led to many teams taking him off their draft boards altogether. Health will always be a concern with Ross, but there will be a role available to him in Kansas City’ re-vamped WR room.

Of course, any of these players can be activated at any time – something the Chiefs will be anticipating with the potential starters in particular.

Chiefs’ Clyde Edwards-Helaire Out For Week 18

When they try to get back the No. 1 seed in the AFC on Saturday, the Chiefs will be without their lead running back. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out for Week 18 against the Broncos, per ESPSN’s Adam Teicher (via Twitter). 

Edwards-Helaire did not practice at all this week, meaning he will miss a second straight game. The shoulder injury he picked up in Week 16’s win over the Steelers kept him out for this past Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. The regular season finale will be the seventh game missed this year for the 2021 first round pick. In the 10 games he has appeared in, he’s totaled 517 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 119 carries (4.3 yards per attempt), along with 19 catches for 129 yards and another two scores.

The news means that Darrel Williams will once again be the starter for the Chiefs. In his fourth season in Kansas City – by far his most productive – Williams has recorded 541 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, as well as 422 yards and another two majors in the passing game. Having been activated from IR last week, veteran Jerick McKinnon will likely serve as the backup again.

In other injury news, starting right tackle Lucas Niang was placed on IR on Friday, which is another big blow to the Chiefs’ offense. On the other hand, Teicher reports that Head Coach Andy Reid believes starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has a “good chance” to play on Saturday after being sidelined last week.

The only way the Chiefs can regain the top spot – and corresponding bye week for the first round of the playoffs – in the AFC is by winning against the Broncos and having the Texans upset the Titans. If both of those things don’t happen, there is a chance they fall all the way to the fourth seed, although a win over Denver alone guarantees them second spot.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/7/22

Today’s minor moves:

Denver Broncos

Kansas City Chiefs

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chiefs’ OL Lucas Niang Out For Rest Of Season

According to a tweet from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Andy Reid informed reporters, after the Chiefs’ loss to the Bengals today, that tackle Lucas Niang suffered a torn patellar tendon. Worries were high for the second-year lineman when he needed to be carted off early in the first quarter. Unfortunately, this type of injury not only prevents Niang from returning this year, but, even after extensive rehabilitation, it could hamper Niang for years to come.

Niang was a third-round pick for the Chiefs two years ago, but was one of several players who opted out of the 2020-21 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns. In what is effectively his rookie season, Niang has been a key player on the line, starting 8 games this season while dealing with some injuries and spending some time on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Kansas City was already short their other starting tackle, Orlando Brown, as he was scratched early this morning with a calf injury. The Chiefs pushed guard Joe Thuney to left tackle and relied on Andrew Wylie at right tackle. Wylie has been filling in for Niang this year and Kansas City will likely continue to depend on him into the playoffs. The loss of Brown is much more concerning for the immediate future and they will hope to get him back in time for a January run.

As for Niang, a speedy and efficient recovery is the best hope. Tears of the patellar tendon have a penchant for ruining careers. While players have been known to rehab and return, few have looked like their former selves after. Players like former Giants’ receiver Victor Cruz and former Buccaneers’ running back Cadillac Williams have returned to play only to look like shadows of their former selves. Longtime former Patriots’ linebacker Jerod Mayo retired shortly after his diagnosis.

Bears’ tight end Jimmy Graham is a rare example of a player who returned to play and continued being his dominant self. After Graham was traded to the Seahawks, he never quite reached the thousand-yards-receiving-coupled-with-double-digit-touchdown seasons of his days with the Saints, but, after tearing his right patellar tendon in his first season in Seattle, Graham returned to Pro Bowl play each of the next two years and set a Seahawks’ franchise record for single season touchdowns by a tight end with 10 in 2017.

We obviously hope for a best case scenario outcome like this as Niang deals with one of football’s biggest nemeses. Torn patellar tendons have ruined too many careers before they began. Our hopes go out to Lucas as he prepares to tackle a daunting injury and we wish him a long and healthy career.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/25-12/26/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed on or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Christmas and today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Steven Sims

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/21/21

Once again, we’ve had a busy day of moves on and off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Here are the players who were placed on the list or activated off of it today:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Dalton Keene (remains on IR)

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Washington Football Team

Reid: Door Open For Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz Returns

The Chiefs created a major depth chart issue ahead of free agency, making longtime tackle starters Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz cap casualties. Both remain free agents, however, and Andy Reid said the door is not closed on either returning.

Unfortunately with Schwartz and Fish, you run into these cap situations,” Reid said, via NFL.com. “Some of these things had to be done. But the greatest thing about this is those guys, with their stay in Kansas City, they go out as champs, and they can hold that with them. Again, you never know. This is a small fraternity of teams. What goes around could come back around to you.

Not that they’re not back with us at some point, but that door always remains open. These guys did it the right way here.”

[RELATED: Mitchell Schwartz Undergoes Back Surgery]

Reid’s comments do not make it sound likely either returns, but the Chiefs have not necessarily replaced them. The savings from the Fisher and Schwartz cuts — upwards of $18MM — allowed the Chiefs to sign Joe Thuney. The team then competed for Trent Williams, finishing second in that pursuit. Kansas City re-signed Mike Remmers, who started at both tackle spots last season, but would appear to be in need of upgrades at left and right tackle still.

Fisher suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in the Chiefs’ AFC championship game rout; the injury pushed Remmers from right to left tackle and led to the Buccaneers’ pass rushers pressuring Patrick Mahomes throughout Super Bowl LV. Schwartz missed most of 2020 with a back injury, one that ended his iron-man streak. The stalwart right tackle had never previously missed a start. Fisher and Schwartz served as the Chiefs’ tackles for the bulk of the past five seasons.

Reid added that 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang, who opted out of his rookie season, could be an option at left tackle. But the Chiefs figure to need at least one new tackle starter, and regardless of Fisher and Schwartz’s statuses, the two-time reigning AFC champions are likely to address the position early in the draft. Fisher and Schwartz were previously attached to eight-figure-per-year deals; both would need to accept major discounts to return.

Fisher turned 30 in January; Schwartz will turn 32 in June. Both profile as two of the top remaining free agents, but with each coming off 2021 surgeries, they may linger on the market for a while. Depending on how the Chiefs’ draft goes, at least one of these reunions may be in play.

Chiefs Rookie Lucas Niang To Opt Out

Chiefs offensive tackle Lucas Niang will opt out of the 2020 season, according to a source who spoke with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). With hours to go before the deadline, the third-round pick becomes the 61st player to make the call.

[RELATED: PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker]

It’s yet another blow to the Chiefs’ offensive line, following guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif‘s opt out decision. As of this writing, the Chiefs are down three players in total between Niang, LDT, and running back Damien Williams.

Niang was set to support starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. The TCU product is green, but the Chiefs saw big potential for the 6’6″, 315-pound lineman. Heading into his senior year, Niang was widely projected as a first-round pick, but a torn labrum brought his final collegiate campaign to an early end. In turn, his stock tumbled, bringing the Chiefs a potential mid-round steal.

For the full list of opt out decisions around the NFL, check out PFR’s 2020 Opt Out Tracker.

2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker

Per an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA, players with COVID-19 health concerns can opt out of the 2020 season. Initially, the deadline was believed to be Tuesday, August 4. Talks between the league and the union have pushed it to August 6.

Chiefs guard and medical school graduate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was the first player to officially opt out. Scores of players followed.

Here’s the rundown, so far:

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • T Brad Seaton

Tennessee Titans

  • OL Anthony McKinney

Washington Football Team

Free agents

Chiefs To Sign Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Wrap Draft Class

The Chiefs have verbally agreed to deals with all six players in their draft class, as Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports tweets. Here’s the full rundown of the group, headlined by one of this year’s most intriguing rushers: 

1-32: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB (LSU)
2-63: Willie Gay Jr., LB (Mississippi State)
3-96: Lucas Niang, OT (TCU)
4-138: L’Jarius Sneed, S (Louisiana Tech)
5-177: Mike Danna, DE (Michigan)
7-237: Thakarius Keyes, CB (Tulane)

Don’t let Edwards-Helaire’s 5’7″ frame fool you – he’s tough, durable, and a proven three-down back. His agility and soft hands made him one of this year’s most coveted rookie RBs, though some evaluators were concerned about his speed. That’s not a huge problem in KC, where they already have ample quickness on offense.

The LSU product is expected to serve as the Chiefs’ top running back, ahead of Damien Williams and Darwin Thompson. Elijah McGuire, Darrel Williams, and former Raiders rusher DeAndre Washington are also on the offseason roster.