If any team had a right to panic at the wide receiver spot this offseason, it was the Kansas City Chiefs, the only team last year to go without a single touchdown from a wide receiver. However, Andy Reid has shown poise and calm calculation in his moves this year, refusing to overreact to that one oft-stated fact.
That was made even more clear as the Chiefs, still thin at the WR spot, cut Da’Rick Rogers.
Rogers was one of those guys you’d keep if you felt desperate. He has tremendous upside, as evidenced by his 1,000+ yard performance at Tennessee in 2011. He has good speed and can be an impact player. Some guys just have a knack for getting that extra step and making a play.
The issue, though, was that Rogers was always in trouble. Tennessee, which hasn’t been relevant for years in college football, tossed Rogers aside because of “disciplinary problems.” In 2014, he was charged with a DUI, and he later pled guilty. He’s spent time in jail and on probation. He is still very young, but he’s already bounced around the NFL, with the Chiefs as his third landing spot.
It’s clear he’s a young man who comes with baggage. Even if NFL teams want to overlook the DUI, the discipline issues at Tennessee speak volumes. If the team didn’t feel they could get through to him, he was a huge risk.
It’s a time of heightened sensitivity to this type of thing in the NFL. Any issue is magnified and plastered all over the Internet. Teams don’t want to deal with any of it. They’re progressively less and less willing to work through problems with star players, let alone role players like Rogers.
But enough of Rogers; he’s out. What’s really important is what this tells us about the Chiefs.
First, they love Jeremy Maclin, as they should. He was brought in to address the wideout issues from last year, and having a guy like him on the roster means Reid certainly doesn’t have to panic about his wideouts. Even if he didn’t have any depth, Maclin projects to be a top-ten wideout in 2015. He was ninth last year, with 1,318 yards.
Second, they like how fast Chris Conley is developing. Reports are that his practice sessions have been good, and he already came in with a lot of speed and a lot of upside. He ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash, and he’s 6-2, 213 pounds. He got better every single year at Georgia, with eight touchdowns in 2014.
Conley was still thought of as a project, a potential No. 2 for the future. He only had 1,938 yards in four years at Georgia, which was somewhat suspect. He wasn’t polished, even at the college level.
It’s part of why the Chiefs brought the slightly more experienced Rogers in—to compete for that job. Conley is doing well enough for the Chiefs to know they don’t have to risk anything with Rogers. That’s a great sign for 2015, but an even better sign for years to come.
For Rogers’ sake, let’s all hope he can clean up his act, focus on football, and make a career out of this. He has the athletic ability to make it happen, which is very rare, and it’s a shame to see that wasted.
However, from a purely Kansas City Chiefs perspective, his being cut is a good thing. It shows that Reid trusts the depth he has, likes the players he has, and expects the passing game to be vastly improved this season.