Chiefs general manager John Dorsey anticipated making some tough cuts over the weekend, when teams were tasked with trimming their rosters from 75 to 53 men by 3 p.m. Saturday.
Yet, one of their most intriguing cuts came Sunday, when the Chiefs released second-year inside linebacker Ramik Wilson — a fourth-round pick just a year ago — to make room for Sam Barrington, a slightly older player at the same position.
“We thought Sam would help us over Ramik, so we just moved on with that,” Dorsey said.
Barrington, 25, spent most of last season on injured reserve due to an ankle injury. In 2014, he appeared in 14 games for the Green Bay Packers, making seven starts while recording 53 total tackles and a sack.
Dorsey said the club was attracted to Barrington’s personality and ability to help on special teams.
“You guys will really like him as a person — he’s really a good person, he is infectious, he plays the game of football very hard, very aggressive and he contributes on special teams,” Dorsey said. “We felt that how he plays the game of football and plays on special teams, to me, was a big difference.”
Wilson recorded 20 tackles in 10 games, including two starts, as a rookie and also started the first preseason game this year at inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson. However, he surrendered the job to Justin March-Lillard — an undrafted rookie a year ago — and never regained it.
Wilson remained ahead of 2015 fifth-round pick D.J. Alexander on the defensive depth chart, but while Wilson was only a spot contributor to special teams, Alexander is a five-phase special-teams player.
“Well, D.J. is developing in the defense, and he’s made a name for himself in the special teams now — that’s what young linebackers do,” Dorsey said.
The Chiefs also claimed offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann from Dallas as a developmental candidate who reminds Dorsey of fourth-round rookie Parker Ehinger, the current starter at left guard.
“He’s a swing right, left tackle, he’s 6-7, he’s 315,” Dorsey said. “He’s got (good) feet … he also will be able to develop into a guard. I think he’s smart enough to play both guard, both tackle (spots). So, I think there’s some value in versatility.”
The Chiefs only had one player claimed off waivers over the weekend, with tight end Brian Parker going to the New York Jets. But Dorsey said that didn’t take him by surprise.
“We had that discussion, not only with Andy (Reid), but some of the offensive coaches,” Dorsey said. “If our predictions were correct, we said that someone would 100 percent pick him up.”
The Chiefs also lost a pair of former fifth-round quarterbacks who cleared waivers. Aaron Murray (2014) landed on Arizona’s practice squad while rookie Kevin Hogan landed on Cleveland’s practice squad.
When asked if they tried to bring one or both of them back to the practice squad, Dorsey said the Chiefs are OK without a practice-squad quarterback, since they currently have three QBs (Alex Smith, Nick Foles and Tyler Bray) on the 53-man roster.
“If you kept two, then there’s a chance that you would put them on the practice squad, whoever that person would be,” Dorsey said. “We thought the three quarterbacks on our final 53 were good enough to be on the 53 and move forward. Tyler has been here for three years. He knows the system. He does have arm talent, and I’m very comfortable in where he is and his development.”
Dorsey was also asked if he was comfortable with losing Hogan, who decided to reunite with former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton after only four months in Kansas City.
“Sometimes it doesn’t work out in the system that you have,” Dorsey said. “Right now, I think he’s off to another team, and I think he’s familiar with the offensive coordinator on that team. So, I wish him good luck.”
As it stands, the Chiefs were allowed to keep 54 men on their roster because safety Eric Berry, who just reported for camp a week ago, was granted a roster exemption.
That means the Chiefs will need to create another roster spot for Berry by Saturday afternoon.
“There’s one more move that has to be made, but it can happen in a lot of different fashions,” Dorsey said. “I don’t have to deal with that until Saturday, and we will.”