Dustin Colquitt has re-signed with the Chiefs practice squad shortly before the postseason run.
On Thursday, news broke that longtime Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt had returned to the team’s practice squad after the conclusion for the regular season. Two emotions seemed to dominate the response from fans on social media: celebration and confusion.
No one was unhappy with the signing itself, of course. Colquitt is universally beloved in Chiefs Kingdom, an incredibly consistent performer at punter for 15 seasons in red and gold. The longevity itself was remarkable, but the fact that he was earning his first and second Pro Bowl nods in the second half of his tenure just showed how valuable he was to the team for so long, a fixture in the latter half of his Chiefs career for Dave Toub’s acclaimed special teams units.
Given all of that, it’s easy to understand why a homecoming would be welcomed by all: Of course we want to see Colquitt here. He’s always welcome here!
If there’s any confusion here, it’s not anything personal toward Colquitt. Instead, it’s about the particulars at work in the acquisition. After all, the Chiefs already employ a punter named Tommy Townsend, an undrafted rookie who performed admirably in Colquitt’s shadow. Sure, he took his lumps throughout the season but he also came up big at several moments as well. It was a mixed bag of results in Townsend’s first year, which is what anyone should have expected.
That’s what makes this a bit tough to read. Is Brett Veach extending an olive branch to Colquitt right now? Remember a couple key things here: practice squads are huge at 16 players. That’s another near-third of a roster. Are the Chiefs using one spot to say “climb on board for another Super Bowl run”? If so, that’s pretty generous knowing that Colquitt could earn another ring with the team in return for his long tenure, particularly through some tough years.
This angle makes sense in response to Colquitt’s emotions at the time of his release. He was pretty up front with the press about his longing to return for a single season more, that he was ready to retire at the end of 2020. He could have started and ended his career with the same team. Instead, we’ve all watched Colquitt flounder between teams in hopes of extending his career—including a short-lived stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers and a brief period on the Tampa Bay practice squad.
However, that sort of handout angle also doesn’t make sense for the way teams conduct themselves in most cases. NFL players know this is a business. That’s the way things work. The Chiefs have 16 practice squad spots to use for the next few weeks for a Super Bowl run, and each of those roster slots give them that much more security to pack away in case there are any needs. The Buffalo Bills added wide receiver Kenny Stills shortly before the postseason. The Bucs signed safety Deone Bucannon. Everyone is gearing up for what they hope is a title chase.
Is punter a problem area? Remember this: the Chiefs kept Johnny Townsend, also a punter and Tommy’s brother, on the practice squad before the Baltimore Ravens recently signed him away. Are the Chiefs concerned about a rookie performing in the playoffs for the first time?
Is this due diligence? Is this a homecoming? Is it a bit of both? It’s confusing and heartening all the same. Either way, Colquitt is back and the Chiefs are prepared in case their punter falls apart when it matters most, even if the motives aren’t entirely clear.