When you ask fans of the Kansas City Chiefs who the most senior member of the Chiefs’ roster is, most fans will likely correctly guess Travis Kelce. But do most fans know who is #2 on the list? Believe it or not, it is long snapper James Winchester.
Among active Chiefs players, Winchester is second in both years with the team and the number of regular-season games played, only trailing tight end Kelce in both categories. Since signing with the Chiefs in 2015, Winchester has appeared in 113 regular-season games, the most of any active Chief in that span. Not only has he played in the most games for the Chiefs since the conclusion of the 2014 NFL season, but he has also missed a total of zero games as a member of Kansas City. That is a major accomplishment, even for a player at a position that doesn’t see a ton of snaps every game.
After attending the University of Oklahoma, Winchester went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and then signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the middle of training camp that season. After being cut a few weeks later, he was out of football through 2014 before signing with the Chiefs in March of 2015.
James Winchester is the second longest-tenured player on the Kansas City Chiefs, only behind Travis Kelce. What is his story with the Chiefs?
As a player who almost exclusively plays special teams, Winchester doesn’t get the opportunity to contribute as much as a player who plays offense or defense. Despite the limited snaps, he has contributed a little bit in terms of forcing and recovering fumbles. He recovered a muffed Jordan Norwood punt in the classic 30-27 OT win in Denver in Week 11 of 2016. He also forced Eagles returner Darren Sproles to fumble in a 27-20 win over the Eagles in 2017. In the opening week of 2018 (in Patrick Mahomes’ debut as the bona fide starter), Winchester recovered a J.J. Jones fumble that directly led to a two-yard Tyreek Hill touchdown two plays later.
Long snappers are generally the most forgotten players on an NFL roster, which is strange since it’s not uncommon for long snappers to be on the same team for well over a decade, like ex-players L.P. Ladouceur of the Dallas Cowboys or Don Muhlbach of the Detroit Lions. The granddaddy of all long snappers is former Bear Patrick Mannelly. After retiring in 2014, Mannelly played 54 more games than any player in the history of the Chicago Bears franchise, the team with the most Pro Football Hall of Famers in the NFL.
The record for regular-season games played in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs is Dustin Colquitt at 238. To beat that record, Winchester would have to play eight more seasons (126 games to set the record), taking him to the age of 40, which isn’t impossible since Ladouceur, Mannelly, and Muhlbach each played through the age of 39.
In conclusion, James Winchester may not be the most well-known player on the Kansas City Chiefs but he has appeared in the second-most games out of any player currently on the roster and that shouldn’t be forgotten. He may not play a valuable position but he’s arguably as reliable as any player the Chiefs have on their roster for what he is asked to do.
What do you think of James Winchester? How much longer do you think he’ll be with the Chiefs? Feel free to let me know in the comment section or on Twitter (@StrozinskyLucas).