KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The training camp battle for the Chiefs’ punting job appears over before it barely began with the club releasing Tyler Newsome on Wednesday, leaving rookie Tommy Townsend as the heir apparent to replace Dustin Colquitt.
The club also made official the signing of free-agent offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele.
The undrafted Townsend comes to Kansas City from Florida, where he averaged 45.4 yards per punt last season as a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter. The club signed Townsend as a free agent following the draft, providing $90,000 in guaranteed money as part of a three-year, $2.3 million deal.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Townsend possesses a strong leg with consistent technique. He also has experience holding for kicks.
“We really liked him coming out,” Toub said back in May. “I had him rated the best punter coming out this year, and he was available for us.”
Newsome entered the league last season as an undrafted rookie free agent from Notre Dame. He signed with the Los Angeles Chargers after the 2019 Draft and averaged 42.1 yards per punt in three preseason games last season before the club released him during the final roster cuts.
The club also released five other players: tight end/full back John Lovett, defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett, offensive lineman Jovahn Fair, safety Jalen Julius and linebacker Bryan Wright.
Lovett joined the team last year as an undrafted free agent and spent the 2019 season on injured reserve. Hoyett joined the club’s practice squad last October. The other three players were signed as undrafted rookie free agents following the 2020 NFL Draft in April.
The club also officially placed right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and running back Damien Williams on the COVID-19 opt out list. The flurry of roster moves leaves the Chiefs with 80 players on their active roster. The club recently agreed to terms with safety Tedric Thompson but has not yet made the signing official.
The Chiefs must reduce their roster to 80 players before Aug. 13, but Chiefs general manager Brett Veach expressed a desire to do so more quickly. Clubs with more than 80 players in training camp must divide their squad into two groups for workout and walk through sessions under COVID-19 protocols. Reducing the roster to 80 allows the Chiefs to hold full-team sessions.
“We don’t want to have to practice in two groups and go back and forth,” Veach said. “Now some teams may elect to do that to keep extra players for another couple of weeks, but where we are and wanting to be efficient and get the most out of our practices, we’re going to go ahead and probably make that move sooner only from an operational standpoint.”
Veach said cutting training camp rosters from 90 to 80 players means more talented players will be on the market. His personnel staff plans to monitor the waiver wire closely for players who may fit the club’s needs.
“I think many teams may follow, and if that’s the case you’re going to have a couple of hundred players out there that didn’t even get a chance to show what they can do during minicamps and training camps,” Veach said. “You’re going to have a lot of players out there that will be out there.”