The number right now is 80.
On Tuesday that number falls to 75.
Next Saturday the number will be 53.
That’s the math for about half the players who will wear the red jersey of the Chiefs on Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks in pre-season game No. 3 at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
As a generalization, every team has 40 roster spots that baring injury are pretty much claimed. The Chiefs are no different. It’s those last dozen to 15 spots that still must be decided.
“You spend a lot of down time looking at the depth chart and just sorting through those numbers,” said Todd Haley. “That will be a big job for all of us here in the next couple of weeks. It’s tough but it’s tough for everyone; every team has the same problems. I don’t think there’s any team that wishes they had less spots, who wishes the number were 48 or 45.
“You generally have to let go of a few guys you don’t want to.”
All of which makes the Chiefs game against the Seahawks very important to about a dozen guys who will have one more chance to stay a step ahead of the roster blade in the next week.
With the change in regime around the Chiefs, it’s hard to speculate on the position numbers with Pioli/Haley putting together their first 53-man roster. With the 3-4, that changes some of the equations. Generally, it’s 25 offense, 25 defense and three specialists. On offense most teams roll with three QBs, nine linemen and some combination of 13 tight ends, wide receivers and running backs. Defensively, it figures to be six linemen, nine defensive backs and 10 linebackers, factoring in special teams play at those spots.
Haley talked about wide receiver numbers last week.
“I think there is a general number but that’s one of those positions; some teams have four and two practice squad guys,” said Haley. “Some teams have six. At Arizona we had six. It all depends where they’re contributing and how many plays we expect to get out of them. The kickoff return stuff could factor into that.
“I have an idea (number of receivers he wants), but we’ll have to see how it all plays out.”
The math is not lost on those guys trying to make sure their number is called. Guys like Matt Gutierrez. He’s the No. 4 quarterback, just now starting to feel comfortable with the Chiefs offense after joining the roster on the first days of training camp. The Chiefs aren’t going to carry four QBs, they might not even carry three. There are rumors about a trade of Tyler Thigpen.
Gutierrez pays no attention to any of it as he goes into these last two pre-season games. That’s something he learned from working with Tom Brady the last few years in New England.
“He always talked about taking the picture down to its smallest form,” Gutierrez said. “You get caught up in a lot of strings when you try to see everything. Just focus down to the most basic thing, like the next play.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do when it comes to that stuff (roster). I just don’t spend any time doing the math. All I can take care of is my next play.”
WR Rodney Wright, the Arena League refugee, tries to do the same thing because he’s been through this drill several times, back when he first got out of Fresno State and spent two training camps with the Buffalo Bills.
“I learned then that it was a waste of time to sit at home each night and try to figure out the numbers,” Wright said. “All the situations change from day-to-day.”
Pioli/Haley will not be making roster decisions from a position of strength. Let’s remember, this franchise had a 6-26 record over the last two seasons and the new guys in charge did not make a huge infusion of top level talent to the roster. At this point, some of the older veterans that were signed really haven’t produced much on the field (see Zach Thomas, Bobby Engram and Mike Goff) and the 2009 Draft class has been less than scintillating as they break into the NFL (see Quinten Lawrence, Jake O’Connell and Colin Brown.)
It would not be a shock if the Chiefs went lower than 53 on that final-cut day. They are going to scour the waiver wire and based on what we’ve seen, they are going to find players that are better than what they currently have on the roster.
That’s why Gutierrez and Wright don’t want to get involved in the numbers game. They know that a player from another team could end up grabbing the job they want. It’s one thing when you are competing against the guys in the same locker room.
When a guy is competing against the entire NFL, it’s too big a picture.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Gutierrez. “I’m either in their plans or I’m not. ”
SIGNINGS, INJURIES & MOVEMENTS AROUND THE LEAGUE
- BRONCOS – suspended WR Brandon Marshall for conduct detrimental to the team. No length was given for how long sanctions will last against Marshall.
- EAGLES – LG Todd Herremans headed for surgery (left foot) and will miss several games.
- 49ERS – OT Marvel Smith retiring because of back problems.
- JETS – claimed P Glenn Pakulak off waivers (Saints); released P Ken Parrish and LB Josh Mauga.
- LIONS – claimed WR Glenn Holt on waivers (Vikings); released WR Billy McMullen and RB Allen Ervin.
- TEXANS – placed LB Cato June on injured reserve (broken arm); signed Cletis Gordon.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on August 29, 1956 in Halifax, Nova Scotia was K Eddie Murray. He joined the Chiefs in the 1992 for one game to replace an injured Nick Lowery. Murray hit his only attempt with the team, a 52-yard FG. The Chiefs were one of seven teams that Murray kicked for over a 19-season NFL career.
Born on August 29, 1961 in Watsonville, California was S Sherman Cocroft. He joined the Chiefs in 1985 and spent three seasons with the team (1985-87), appearing in 44 games, with one start. Cocroft had six interceptions during his time with the Chiefs. He finished his career with seasons in Buffalo and Tampa Bay.