KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs must whittle down their 90-man roster to 53 players before 3 p.m. central time Saturday, which means plenty of transaction coming during the next few days.
Teams have until 11 a.m. Sunday to claim players off waivers. Once the league issues its transaction report at around noon, teams can begin establishing a practice squad of 10 players.
Here's the final Chiefs Digest roster projection ahead of Saturday's waiver-wire deadline.
Starter: Patrick Mahomes
Backups: Chad Henne and Matt Moore
In the mix: Kyle Shurmur and Chase Litton
Henne appears the only question mark, and his status certainly affects a spot at another position. If the Chiefs need to keep open the option for his return later, he must start on the initial 53-man roster before heading to injured reserve. If surgery revealed his season's over, then that frees up a spot at another position.
Starters: Damien Williams, FB Anthony Sherman,
Backups: Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams and Tremon Smith
In the mix: Carlos Hyde and Marcus Marshall
Smith is the biggest wildcard, but the Chiefs have worked hard to find Smith a roster spot during training camp and the preseason for his value on special teams. The offense showcased Hyde against the Packers, but his eight carries for 29 yards illustrates why he's likely on the outside of the roster bubble.
Starter: Travis Kelce
Backups: Blake Bell and Nick Keizer
In the mix: Deon Yelder and Manasseh Gardner
Injured reserve: John Lovett
Blake Bell won the No. 2 job, but if the Chiefs keep a third tight end they face a tough decision. Yelder hasn't returned to practice yet with the ankle injury, and the Chiefs don't have many options for keeping him unless he sticks on the active roster. But Keizer has done everything he's needed to win a spot, including another strong performance against the Packers.
Starters: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson
Backups: Mecole Hardman, De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Pringle
In the mix: Cody Thompson, Rashard Davis, Gehrig Dieter, Jody Fortson, Jamal Custis, Felton Davis, and Jalen Tolliver
Injured reserve: Marcus Kemp and Davon Grayson
Thursday's game seemed to underscore that the sixth receiver spot belongs to Pringle. He played a handful of snaps early, but quickly gave way to other roster contenders. Pringle has a track record of impressing the Chiefs over the past two preseasons, which helps give him the edge over Thompson and Rashard Davis. Make no mistake, though – this is a talented group with several practice squad candidates.
Starters: LT Eric Fisher, LG Andrew Wylie, C Austin Reiter, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and RT Mitchell Schwartz
Backups: G/T Cam Erving, OL Jeff Allen and G/C Nick Allegretti
In the mix: G/C Ryan Hunter, G/C Kahlil McKenzie, C/G Jimmy Murray, OT Dino Boyd, OT Pace Murphy, G Zack Golditch and T Chidi Okeke
The top seven offensive linemen are virtual locks, and Allegretti gets the nod as a backup center. If the Chiefs keep a ninth linemen, Hunter looks the most deserving. If the Chiefs want another swing tackle, Boyd has come on late. But a likely scenario – Veach scours the waiver wire for another nugget, much like he found Reiter on waivers at this time last year.
Starters: LDE Alex Okafor, DT Derrick Nnadi, DT Chris Jones and RDE Frank Clark
Backups: DL Tanoh Kpassagnon, DL Breeland Speaks, DT Xavier Williams, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DT Justin Hamilton and DT Khalen Saunders
In the mix: DT Joey Ivie, DE Jeremiah Attaochu, DE Rob McCray, DT Cavon Walker and Hunter Dimick
Non-football injury list: DE Tim Ward
The Chiefs want to keep eight or nine defensive linemen. Speaks must make the 53-man roster before going to injured reserve, so that may predicate keeping a 10th lineman on Saturday. Hamilton, Ivie and Attaochu all have made strong cases, but Hamilton gets the nod for now.
Saunders has unquestionably struggled at times and only on occasion cracked above third-team snaps, but no one expects the Chiefs to give up this early ona third-round pick with as much talent as Saunders possesses. Nothing suggests, however, the coaching staff believes Saunders ready to make an immediate contribution.
Attaochu played well at times and finished strong against the Packers, but numbers are working against him.
Starters: WLB Anthony Hitchens, MLB Reggie Ragland, SLB Damien Wilson
Backups: ILB Ben Niemann, OLB Darron Lee and OLB Dorian O'Daniel
In the mix: ILB Raymond Davison and OLB D'Juan Hines
Non-football injury list: ILB Darius Harris
No changes here from the last projection. Ragland played Thursday night, but it looked mostly as an effort to get him snaps at outside linebacker. Dorian O'Daniel still has trouble cracking the rotation, but his special teams value makes him a key player here.
Starters: Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward
Backups: Rashad Fenton
Suspended list: Morris Claiborne
In the mix: Mark Fields, Herb Miller, D'Montre Wade, Dakari Monroe and Michael Hunter
Injured reserve: Keith Reaser
The Chiefs have plenty of questions beyond the top four corners including Claiborne, who is suspended for the first four games. Claiborne started Thursday at right corner with Fields on the left side and Fenton in the slot. But Fields didn't take advantage of his opportunity, committing three penalties for 47 yards on two Packers' scoring drives.
Claiborne starting on the right side also fits with another recent development. After the close of training camp, the Chiefs moved Breeland to the left side and Ward to the right, which is where Claiborne has been playing. If Claiborne comes back from suspension as a starter, he can swap with Ward rather than moving Breeland to another position.
This is also a position group where the Chiefs could be active in the trade market and waiver wire over the next few days. If the Chiefs keep a fifth cornerback, Miller seems like the safest bet.
Starters: Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill
Backups: Daniel Sorensen, Jordan Lucas and Armani Watts
In the mix: Andrew Soroh and Harold Jones-Quartey
This position appears set with comfortable depth. Expect the Chiefs to use a lot of three-safety looks with Mathieu, Sorensen and Thornhill, making all three de facto starters. Lucas and Watts provide quality depth and special teams play.
Starters: K Harrison Butker, P Dustin Colquitt, LS James Winchester
In the mix: P Jack Fox
Once again, hard to see Colquitt getting unseated, but Fox will absolutely punt in the NFL at some point.
QB Shurmur, WR Thompson, WR Davis, WR Fortson, OL Hunter, OL McKenzie, DL Joey Ivie, CB Herb Miller, CB D'Montre Wade and CB Mark Fields