Chiefs

Chiefs cut kicker Ryan Succop, linebacker Nico Johnson and 18 others

Kansas City Chiefs' Ryan Succop (6) kicks a field goal against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. The kick was good. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Kansas City Chiefs' Ryan Succop (6) kicks a field goal against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. The kick was good. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

The five-year run for the most accurate kicker in Chiefs history is over.

The Chiefs released Ryan Succop on Saturday, one of 20 cuts the team made to reduce its roster to the league-mandated limit of 53 players.

Succop, 27, was taken with the 256th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, but the “Mr. Irrelevant” title customarily bestowed upon the final pick in each draft did not apply to his career. In five seasons, Succop made 81 percent of his field-goal tries, the highest among Chiefs with more than 100 attempts — even ahead of Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud’s 66 percent.

Succop also performed well at kickoffs last season, drilling 47 touchbacks, which ranked ninth in the league. He thanked Chiefs fans in a Twitter post, saying he “loved every minute” in Kansas City.

The emergence of undrafted rookie Cairo Santos played a role in the decision. Both players were two for two on field goals during the preseason. Santos impressed the staff with his leg strength and accuracy during training camp but Succop had five touchbacks to Santos’ three in the preseason.

The Chiefs’ salary cap woes also were a factor. Succop was due cap figures of $2.7 million, $3.5 million and $3.2 million the next three years, while Santos will only make a fraction of that. By cutting Succop, the Chiefs — who had about $4.7 million in cap space prior to Saturday, according to the NFL Players Association — stand to gain roughly $2 million in cap space this year, $2.5 million next year and $3 million in 2016.

Succop wasn’t the only notable cut. The Chiefs also released 2013 fourth-round linebacker Nico Johnson and three players who appeared to be likely contributors: safety Malcolm Bronson, right guard Ricky Henry and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke.

The Chiefs also settled an intriguing situations at quarterback and receiver by placing Tyler Bray and Kyle Williams on injured reserve, while defensive end Mike Catapano — who has missed the better part of a month because of an unknown illness — has been placed on the non-football injury list, which essentially means he can return at some point this season.

By playing Bray on injured reserve, the Chiefs can retain all four of their quarterbacks. Bray was in competition with No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel, but he proved to be more consistent and the Chiefs weren’t going to cut ties with rookie Aaron Murray, a fifth-round pick.

The Chiefs kept six running backs — Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas, Anthony Sherman, Joe McKnight and Cyrus Gray — and four tight ends — Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Richard Gordon.

Others who were cut include receiver Mark Harrison, defensive end Kona Schwenke, safety Jonathan Amaya, running back Charcandrick West, cornerback Justin Rogers, linebacker Devan Walker, defensive tackle Kyle Love, fullback Jordan Campbell, defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, tackle J’Marcus Webb, receiver Fred Williams and linebacker Alonzo Highsmith.

Receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, who will both miss the season opener because of suspensions, will not count against the 53-man roster until they return.

Some of the moves cut the Chiefs deeper than the others. Take Nico Johnson, for instance. He was the Chiefs’ fourth-round draft pick in 2013, but got injured during training camp last season and never made an impact. He spent the entirety of this year’s camp on the third team behind backups James-Michael Johnson and Josh Mauga.

Bronson, meanwhile, spent last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad but spent nearly the entirety of this year’s training camp on the second team. The Chiefs instead kept undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen, who logged three starts as Eric Berry sat because of an injured heel, and veteran Kelcie McCray, who was recently acquired via trade.

Henry, a tough-guy type, was claimed off waivers last August and slowly rose up the Chiefs’ depth chart during the preseason, splitting first-team snaps at left guard with Jeff Linkenbach when starter Jeff Allen slid out to right tackle to replace Donald Stephenson, who will miss the first four games of the season for using performance-enhancing drugs. Rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who spent the entire preseason behind Henry on the depth chart, made the team instead.

Van Dyke, a third-round pick by Oakland in 2011, was signed to a reserve-futures contract in January and brought much-needed speed at cornerback. But he a suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale against Green Bay on Thursday.

More moves could be coming. Teams have 24 hours to put claims on players cut on Saturday, and several Chiefs who were cut could be prime practice-squad candidates if they clear waivers.

“As a collective football operation, coaches and scouts have held numerous discussions on each player during the evaluation process,” general manager John Dorsey said in a release announcing the cuts. “We had excellent competition at every position and that’s a great thing, but today we had to make some difficult decisions to narrow our roster to 53. We appreciate all the time and effort these young men put in for us and wish them all the best.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TerezPaylor.

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