NFL

The Kansas City Chiefs Cut Their Longest-Tenured Player to Save $2 Million

The Kansas City Chiefs might be defending Super Bowl champions, but the offseason hasn’t been all parties and parades. The club has been forced to make some tough decisions. They’ve franchise-tagged Chris Jones—the lineman wasn’t happy about it—and now they cut their longest-tenured player.

That player, punter Dustin Colquitt, had been with the club for 15 seasons. The move wasn’t motivated by performance, though; the Kansas City Chiefs cut Colquitt to save $2 million.

Dustin Colquitt’s time with the Kansas City Chiefs

In the world of professional football, it’s pretty hard for a punter to become a household name. During his time with the Kansas City Chiefs, however, Dustin Colquitt came pretty close.

As a member of the Colquitt kicking family, Dustin seemed destined for NFL success. He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee, earning a spot on the All-American and All-SEC team; that was good enough to convince the Kansas City Chiefs to select him in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft.

Colquitt signed his rookie contract and became a fixture with the Chiefs. He survived coaching changes and terrible seasons; whenever Kansas City’s offense stalled, you knew he was the one who would come onto the field. The punter spent 15 years with the club, becoming only the second player in franchise history to reach that milestone and setting the record for the most games played as a Chief.

Colquitt wasn’t only a compiler, though. He was actually good at his job. While it can be tough to evaluate and appreciate a punter—he only shows up when the offense fails and can’t entirely control his own statistics—the Chiefs had one of the best in the league; Ethan Douglas of Arrowhead Pride even crunched the numbers an argued that Colquitt is one of the most valuable players in recent Kansas City history. Come the fall, however, the punter won’t be with the team anymore.

Dustin Colquitt gets cut

On Tuesday morning, Dustin Colquitt took to Instagram to make a surprising announcement. He was leaving the Kansas City Chiefs.

Later in the day, the Chiefs confirmed they had released their longtime punter. The statement wasn’t an ordinary PR brief, however, but a final chance to praise Colquitt’s service to the club.

“Dustin is one of the greatest Chiefs of all-time, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to coach him these past seven years,” head coach Andy Reid said in the statement. “The longevity of his career here in Kansas City shows you just how consistently he has performed at a high level. Beyond his impact on the field, he was a great teammate and leader. I will always be a huge Dustin Colquitt fan.”

The Kansas City Chiefs made a tough decision to save $2 million

It’s safe to assume that no one in the Kansas City Chiefs organization wanted to cut Dustin Colquitt. The team’s financial realities, however, forced them to make a tough decision.

While the Chiefs will be bringing back most of their Super Bowl starters, the club is still up against the salary cap. Cutting Colquitt gives them $2 million more in breathing room; that might not seem like a massive amount of money but, when you’re trying to resign Chris Jones and, more importantly, Patrick Mahomes, every penny counts.

Things have also changed a great deal over the past 15 NFL seasons. During his early days in Kansas City, the Chiefs needed Dustin Colquitt; the team was pretty awful, so it made sense to spend a little extra to secure an elite punter. These days, though, things are different. When you have Mahomes under center instead of Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle, you simply won’t be punting the ball as frequently.

No one in Kansas City is happy to see Dustin Colquitt go. If his $2 million salary can help the Chiefs better compete for a Super Bowl, though, it’s an understandable, albeit painful, sacrifice.