KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The first year that general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid were in charge of the Chiefs, they were so short of quality depth that they snapped up seven players on waivers.
This year, the Chiefs could have that many of their own claimed.
It’s another demonstration of just how far the franchise has come in three years, from a team that was 2-14 before their arrival to one that expects to challenge for the AFC West title.
“We probably have a little more depth than what we had in the first year,” Reid said. “I think Dorse and his guys have done a nice job of that. And there’s competitions. There’s a great amount of competition. So that normally brings out the best.”
As a result, guys who may not have a chance in Kansas City are able to showcase in preseason games what they might do for others. The film gets out and they get claimed.
“Teams look at them,” Reid said, “and they can say, ‘You know what? This guy’s worth a shot.'”
Just as the Chiefs did a few years ago.
After the disastrous season that led to coach Romeo Crennel’s ouster, along with then-GM Scott Pioli, the Chiefs had the top spot on the waiver priority list. They took advantage of it to grab a pair of offensive players and five on defense — all of whom are still with the team.
Two of them, safety Ron Parker and defensive tackle Jaye Howard, are starters.
“John Dorsey and his guys did a great job of evaluating not only the player that came in but the needs that we had on our squad,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “Every one of those guys contributed right away. That’s not an easy thing to do the first game week and all of a sudden you have to learn a whole new system.”
Parker and Howard managed to do it. So did cornerback Marcus Cooper and linebackers Dezman Moses and James-Michael Johnson, though each of them are fighting for their roster spots heading into the final round of cuts, which are due Saturday afternoon.
Parker may be the best example of the value of the waiver wire.
He was cut eight times, and then cast aside by the Seahawks. But he stuck in Kansas City in part because of his versatility, proving over time he could play cornerback and safety.
In fact, Parker became so valuable that when he reached free agency this past offseason, the Chiefs out-bid several other teams to keep him. The result was a five-year contract that could pay him up to $30 million — not bad for a player that other teams continually passed on.
“That’s the real me,” he said of his play the past two seasons. “I feel like that’s the me all along. I just had to get the opportunity and the Kansas City Chiefs gave me the shot. I showed my talent last year with starting the full season.”
Sutton acknowledged that hitting such a jackpot on the waiver wire is unusual. But he also points out that players claimed by other teams are chosen for a reason.
“It’s not like when you start out, especially if you’re a free agent, and you go to a team and have to work your way in, and sometimes they don’t have a need,” he said. “When you come in at the end, there’s a need. You just have to meet it. But there is a need. That’s why they’re picking you up. They’re not just picking you up for the heck of it.”
Reid takes a certain amount of pride in the fact that the Chiefs have a handful of players who might fill another team’s needs this year. Wins and losses are what matters, but it’s in some small way another example of just how far the organization has come in a short time.
Oh, and it also makes the uncomfortable feeling of cutting a player a little easier to digest when there’s a good chance that he will catch on elsewhere.
NOTES: TE Travis Kelce left practice under his own power Monday with an apparent right leg injury. Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said the team would have more information Tuesday. … TE Demetrius Harris (right foot surgery) was activated from the PUP list, though it’s unclear whether he will play in their preseason finale Thursday in St. Louis. “It’s getting his sea legs back,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said.