Chiefs news: Tight ends will cover fullback role in 2023

Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray (83) runs against
Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray (83) runs against / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since he first arrived in Kansas City to serve as the head coach of the Chiefs, Andy Reid is going to move forward into a season without a fullback in his offense.

If that sounds dated, it is in modern NFL standards. Most teams did away with the fullback position years ago, at least as a standalone position, and most remaining fullbacks serve in more of a hybrid mode than any throwback to the Tony Richardsons of years past in Kansas City.

Still, for all of his creative edge-pushing as an offensive genius over the years, Reid has always loved the fullback role as a potential card to play on offense, whether in short-yardage situations, goal-line scenarios, or when he just wanted to mix things up against opposing defensive coordinators.

When Reid first arrived, the team traded for Anthony Sherman and even used a sixth-round choice on Braden Wilson out of Kansas State—although he was short-lived. But the fact that John Dorsey, the general manager hired alongside Reid back in 2013, used two transactions to shore up fullback even a decade sounds funny today.

Sherman would go on to last eight full seasons in Kansas City before giving way to former Saints FB Michael Burton, who occupied the role in each of the last two seasons. However, he left this offseason to reunite with Sean Payton in Denver, which left the Chiefs without a fullback, a position in which the roster will apparently stay.

Reid spoke with reporters during the early days of the third phase of OTAs on Wednesday and took questions about the lack of a fullback at Arrowhead and what the team might do about it. Instead, Reid said the responsibilities of such a position could be handled by the abundance of talent at tight end—a scenario that certainly makes sense given the loaded nature of the TE room and the under-utilized nature of a full-time fullback.

"Tight ends can work into that spot. Noah can do all of that and that’s kind of where we went with it. We had a number of tight ends that we felt comfortable with, so maybe you keep an extra tight end as opposed to that fullback."

Reid was quick to add that this isn't a permanent thing. Rather it's a solution for 2023 based on the talent on hand. Remember, even beyond Travis Kelce, Reid brought up Noah Gray specifically but Jody Fortson is back from injury and Blake Bell is already referred to as the Belldozer for those fullback sorts of scenarios as it is.

"Normally you don’t have that number of tight ends that we’ve got here. I would go back. That’s not a problem. We liked what we had last year with it. But again, without the injuries, we were going to have to juggle that last year somehow."

Maybe next year, Reid will return to his fullback-loving ways, but for now the Chiefs are forming their roster around the talent they have instead of forcing the talent to fit into preconceived holes. That's forward-leaning even as the position discussed is entirely old school.

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