The K.C. Chiefs have announced that tight end Nick Keizer has been placed on the reserve/retired list as of Sunday. The move signals an end to Keizer’s three-year professional football career.
Keizer had served as a feel-good story for the Chiefs in that he’d shown an impressive ability to not only earn a spot on the team’s active roster but that he’d earned considerable playing time for a Super Bowl-caliber roster in the process. Now, however, instead of building on his success last season, Keizer has apparently decided to call it in the wake of a recent injury.
Thus far in training camp. Keizer had already missed a bit of time with back spasms that kept him from being able to practice, and it’s a fair question to wonder if that was at the heart of the team’s announcement on Friday.
Nick Keizer’s retirement goes against his overall trajectory for KC Chiefs.
It’s easy to forget Keizer’s back story that made his ascent to legitimate playing time such an achievement. He came into the NFL as a long shot from a small school at Grand Valley State in Allendale, Michigan, a part of the mighty Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. While there, Keizer only had 45 career receptions but 11 of those were for touchdowns.
That sort of production and solid stature (at 6’5, 255 lbs.) turned the heads of the Baltimore Ravens front office and they decided to take a flyer on him as a rookie free agent in 2018. From there, Keizer managed to earn a practice squad spot and subsequent futures contract following the season.
After being released the following spring, the Chiefs signed Keizer in May, 2019, and he slowly began to earn the trust of the coaches enough to earn what he did in Baltimore: a spot on the practice squad in 2019 and then a reserve/futures deal for the 2020 season. He parlayed that first full offseason with the Chiefs into one of the three tight end spots available on the active roster and became a regular contributor each and every week for the team’s “run it back” campaign.
Keizer played in 302 snaps on offense last year for the Chiefs and appeared in all 16 regular season games. He had only 6 catches for 63 yards and had some tough games (e.g. the Denver fumble) along the way, but it’s hard to argue with the trajectory he was showing overall as a player. Remember, he held off a veteran like Deon Yelder and an incoming Ricky Seals-Jones for the playing time he earned in 2020.
This offseason, it looked as if Keizer’s time might be up with K.C. given their draft investment in Noah Gray in the fifth round, who is looking great in camp, and the re-signing of Blake Bell, whose blocking ability should be enough to earn him an active roster spot. Even so, Keizer is only 26-years-old and if the Chiefs were to release him, it seems like another team would take a chance on him given that two of the most successful front offices in football have already liked him enough to keep him for multiple contracts at a time.
Maybe Keizer is done with his pursuit of professional football and is ready for something else, but his course taken thus far says something different. Even if Keizer was never going to be a breakout player generating major production, the NFL is full of veteran tight ends who have enjoyed long careers as special teams assets and role players.