The Chiefs didn’t wait until the league-mandated deadline to make the first surprise cut of the preseason.
After missing the majority of training camp with a concussion, Chiefs running back Charcandrick West was released Tuesday morning, just a day after he was cleared by doctors to return to practice.
“He’s a player that we’re going to miss,” assistant head coach Dave Toub said. “He’s a good player, but we have a thing around here: It’s next man up. There’s some depth there at that position and (general manager) Brett Veach, he’s made a decision that we’re all-in with.
“Charcandrick is going to play in this league. He’ll go somewhere and he’ll be playing somewhere.”
West, who signed with the organization as an undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian in 2014, led the Chiefs with 634 rushing yards in 2015 after Jamaal Charles tore his ACL in Week 5. After that season, he and fellow running back Spencer Ware signed contract extensions through the 2018 season.
Following his breakout season in 2015, West, 27, was primarily used as a third-down back, and his overall production and usage dropped significantly. In 2017, West had just 18 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Though West was a valuable niche player, the Chiefs’ running back group developed depth in his 11-day absence from training camp. Cutting him also saved the organization $1.65 million in cap space, according to Sportrac.
With West out after the third day of camp, new running back Damien Williams stepped up to take first- and second-team snaps along with starter Kareem Hunt. Though limited with his ongoing recovery from last season’s knee injury, Ware was also mixed in with the first and second team.
With West’s departure, the running back picture is a little more clear entering the final two games of the preseason. Hunt, Ware and Williams are all likely locks to make the 53-man roster along with fullback Anthony Sherman.
However, Ware could start the season on injured reserve, and his participation and performance in Saturday’s preseason game at Chicago could go a long way in figuring out his status for the season opener.
“You know what, all of those guys are special,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “They all have been working. They compete. It’s always good to see those guys get on the field. So we just excited about getting everybody back out there and making sure that we go out there and do a great job.”