5 players who are likely entering their final season with the Kansas City Chiefs

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

Everything has a life cycle.

For every beginning, there is an end, and that's true of every tenure of every player on the Kansas City Chiefs. For some, such as Dustin Colquitt, the relationship can last for decades. For others, such as Isaiah Buggs, it's over as quick as the handcuffs went on. But every Chiefs player will, at some point, find themselves watching the team they once played for.

Every year, we find ourselves watching a number of players—some of them among our favorites—in their final games with the Chiefs. As we survey a new season, it might be nice to keep in mind the fact that some players are likely coming into their final years in K.C.—if only because it will help us to appreciate the present all the more.

Here are some of our best guesses as to who is likely set to leave this offseason—whether as a free agent or otherwise.

Marquise Brown, wide receiver

We've yet to see what Hollywood Brown is going to be able to do in a Chiefs uniform, but the projections are already quite positive. That's not only because he's landed himself in a plum situation (catching passes in a wideout-needy offense from Patrick Mahomes of all people), but because he's also demonstrated some very real chemistry with his new teammates.

But such success, while worth it for the Chiefs if they're to chase a third consecutive Super Bowl win, will only push Brown further away from Kansas City's long-term plans.

That's likely okay with all parties involved because that was the belief all along. Brown signed for a song in a pretty rich wide receiver market, but the hope was that accepting a bit less now would bring a bountiful supply in the future. The formula worked for JuJu Smith-Schuster during the Chiefs' run of success and Brown is likely going to be the next free agent wideout to cash in.

That's sad, but when a player signs a team-friendly, single-season deal, that's the shadow side when all is said and done.

Justin Reid, safety

There was a brief period of time when it looked like Justin Reid might be able to salvage something here beyond 2024 with the Chiefs. He's been a strong leader in the secondary and a solid performer on the field who has engendered himself with fans and coaches with his physical playing style, personable demeanor, and clear leadership. He's also part of a bloated section of the roster.

The window for keeping Reid around with a conceivable extension closed the moment the Chiefs had Jaden Hicks fall into their lap in the bottom of the fourth round. Remember this: they even took tight end Jared Wiley with their pick two selections before Hicks and he was still there. In the end, Hicks proved too talented to pass up despite no clear need at the position (or real path to playing time early).

Next year, the Chiefs will bring back Bryan Cook and Chamarri Conner, Nazeeh Johnson and Jaden Hicks, It's possible to kick Conner to the slot as a nickel but even then, you've got too much clear talent sitting too often. And safety remains a cheaper and easier position at which the team can stock further talent in next year's draft.

As painful as it was to lose talents like Charvarius Ward and L'Jarius Sneed from the secondary in the past couple of offseasons, the truth is that the Chiefs have kept the decks stacked in the defensive backfield. Looking at the future of safety, there's simply too much talent around—young, developmental, cost-controlled talent—to keep Reid on the books.

Carson Wentz, quarterback

Blaine Gabbert was one-and-done with the Chiefs. Carson Wentz will be, too. But their reasons for following similar paths could not be any different.

Coming into this offseason, the Chiefs made it clear that they were ready for an upgrade from Gabbert, who had signed a single-season deal last spring. Gabbert's shorter stint followed a nice long accompaniment from Chad Henne, which shows that the Chiefs would likely prefer someone up for sticking around in the right scenario. Gabbert was not that.

In limited playing time, Gabbert did little to inspire confidence that he could get the job done in case of emergency, so the Chiefs sunk a bit more money and effort into upgrading the QB2 spot behind Patrick Mahomes to Wentz. The position already feels a lot better.

The problem, however, if you want to call it that, is that Wentz is still young enough to present a solid starting option, a la Gardner Minshew, in the NFL. After a year backing up Mahomes and learning from Andy Reid, his stock is likely going to go up a bit this season even if he never throws a pass—perhaps maybe even more so. As weird as that is, teams can talk themselves into all kinds of oddities at quarterback.

Just like Hollywood Brown, Wentz is likely here to cash in on riding along with the Chiefs for a short spell. It's not a bad plan at all. It just means he's unlikely here in 2025.

Noah Gray, tight end

In a perfect world, one in which the Chiefs have infinite money and/or opportunities to keep everyone around, we'd see Gray back again in 2025 and then some as the Chiefs keep everyone around to maintain a fully loaded tight end role.

Alas, that is not realistic.

Gray is coming into his final season with the Chiefs—at least contractually speaking—and it makes sense that he would spread his wings and fly next offseason for a team hoping to watch him bloom away from Travis Kelce's shadow. That's honestly not a bad bet, and no one should be surprised if Gray turned into a solid fantasy option away from Arrowhead.

Back to the Chiefs. The team made a fourth-round pick out of TCU's Jared Wiley and it was pretty uncanny how quickly he looked the part as a solid contributor. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but let's admit the Chiefs know a thing or two about success at the position, and the lead tandem for 2025 is clear with Kelce in the final year of his own restructured contract and Wiley waiting to carry the torch himself.

If Gray was amenable to a team-friendly deal to stick around and chase rings, that's one thing, but there's a bag worth grabbing here for him even if it's a modest raise or a bit more security.

Lucas Niang, offensive tackle

For his sake, we hope Lucas Niang has something in the tank for this coming season. At this point, he's being overlooked by absolutely everyone from casual fans to team reporters, but they have their reasons. The Chiefs themselves have set Niang about as far back on the shelf as you can imagine.

Let's look at the Chiefs statements made at the tackle positions over the last two offseasons. First, they invested $20 million per year in a new right tackle a year ago in Jawaan Taylor. They followed that up with a third-round choice in the draft in Wanya Morris and a free agent deal with Donovan Smith in the short-term. As Smith left, the Chiefs used a second-round pick on BYU"s Kingsley Suamataia this spring.

In total, that makes Niang OT4 at this stage and that might be generous because even last summer, Niang was staring up at Prince Tega Wanogho on the depth chart.

Overall, it's an unfortunate story because injuries are no one's fault and Niang was such an exciting young prospect. He's a hard worker and quick learner who had the obvious athleticism to be something useful for the Chiefs, but a team with championship aspirations can't roll the dice waiting for a player to get healthy. It's the same reason the Chiefs dropped Mitch Schwartz and Eric Fisher in the same offseason.

Given that his contract will be up soon, it's safe to say the Chiefs won't be bringing back Lucas Niang.