On Sunday, the K.C. Chiefs announced a series of roster moves, both of which were a bit surprising. Tight end Nick Keizer was placed on the reserve/retired list, signaling a surprising end to his three-year NFL career, and he was replaced by the re-signing of veteran offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann.
Very few fans will likely think much of the addition of Witzmann at this point, considering that anyone added in early August is likely headed back for the transaction wire in late August. That’s just the nature of having a 90-man roster and a looming deadline for teams to release a few dozen players apiece in such a short span of time. Most players are going to have a hard time earning the trust of coaches to elevate themselves over so many competitors in a matter of a few weeks.
The other reason this re-signing will likely go overlooked is that Witzmann is a familiar face, the C.J. Spiller of offensive linemen to rehash a running joke. Just as Spiller seemed like he was on and off the roster countless times in just a couple years, Chiefs Kingdom has become accustomed to seeing Witzmann here and there over the last few years.
Bryan Witzmann’s re-signing with the KC Chiefs raises some interesting questions.
At this point, however, the re-signing of Witzmann raises some interesting questions for the roster and specifically how the offensive line might shake out in terms of backups. Is there something in the works? Could Witzmann surprise? Is general manager Brett Veach keeping Witzmann off the market? It’s impossible to say.
Here’s what raises some doubts about the straightforward nature of this signing.
First, the Chiefs already have seven players with starting experience at guard—either side—with Joe Thuney and rookie Trey Smith atop the current depth chart released this past weekend. That list also includes Andrew Wylie, Nick Allegretti, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mike Remmers, and Kyle Long. That means Witzmann is now No. 8 in line to go with Yasir Durant and Darryl Williams, both of whom can also play inside.
Second, if the Chiefs are going to sign a player this late in training camp, we’d expect it to be at a position of need (remember Keizer’s loss was at tight end) or a developmental player who the Chiefs might be interested in seeing before stashing on a potential practice squad spot. Witzmann is a known quantity at a position of strength.
For those who might think Witzmann is a temporary reaction signing to the placement of Darryl Williams on the COVID list over the weekend, that feels like an overreach considering the Chiefs have Austin Blythe and Nick Allegretti who can slide into center as well. Yet maybe that’s the case and this is all for nothing.
But if it is about something bigger, maybe the Chiefs have a move planned on the books for one of their “extra” linemen. There’s been plenty of talk about the Chiefs possessing enough roster competition to potentially make a move. The team went from needy to plenty along the line, particular along the interior, and guys like Laurent Duvernay-Tardif or Andrew Wylie could be solid starters elsewhere if they’re going to be buried on the Chiefs depth chart.
Of course, the Chiefs won’t want to give up the security they’ll need for a long, long season, but if Kyle Long is returning from injury soon, the team will have too many guys even if they’re wanting to make keep an impressive backing corps. Does Witzmann’s presence mean the Chiefs are planning to trade one of those guys?
Depending on what corresponding roster move is announced from the Chiefs, we’ll know what purpose Witzmann ultimately served? Was he really just a stop-gap for a third-string player out with COVID? Do the Chiefs just want further o-line competition heading into the season? Will Witzmann serve as the replacement for a soon-to-be traded player? Those are the questions raised by the signing.