The Chiefs began the process of paring their roster down from 76 to 53 on Friday, as the club moved on from at least eight players, according to sources.
Highlighting the list of prominent Chiefs who were shipped out Friday are quarterback Aaron Murray, who lost out on a highly-publicized battle with Tyler Bray for a backup quarterback spot, and cornerback Marcus Cooper, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional 2018 draft pick.
Other players who have been notified of their release, sources told The Star, included cornerback Deveron Carr, outside linebacker Andy Mulumba, offensive tackle Reid Fragel, safety Jeron Johnson, wide receiver Da’Ron Brown and safety Jamell Fleming.
The Chiefs’ decision to release Murray — a move that was first reported by Pro Football Talk — makes sense. Especially after a rough preseason in which the 2014 fifth-round pick completed 60 percent of his passes in four games, but also tossed four interceptions to go with zero touchdowns.
Murray also failed to make a positive impression in the Chiefs’ last preseason game, a 17-7 win over Green Bay on Thursday in which he threw two interceptions, leading Chiefs coach Andy Reid to mention afterward that a quarterback can’t turn the ball over.
Reid, meanwhile, offered some praise for Bray, who bounced back from a rough start in Thursday’s game to lead a pair of scoring drives and seemingly solidify his hold on the No. 3 job behind starter Alex Smith and top backup Nick Foles.
But while the Chiefs’ situation at quarterback came into focus on Friday — they now have four quarterbacks, and a decision must still be made on fifth-round rookie Kevin Hogan — the same can also be said for the cornerback position, due to the trade of Cooper.
Cooper, a fourth-year pro who was the Chiefs’ rookie of the year in 2013, opened training camp with some first-team reps as projected starter Phillip Gaines continued to work his way back from a knee injury. While Coopers had some nice moments in practice, he eventually slid solely into second-team duty. The Chiefs’ recent acquisition of San Francisco cornerback Kenneth Acker, who started 13 games last year, did not help Cooper’s cause, either.
As for the other players the Chiefs moved on from on Friday:
▪ Carr, 26, earned some second-team reps over the last week in practice but was always going to have a hard time making the team, especially with all the young, drafted corners remaining on the roster.
▪ Mulumba, 26, was solid, but unspectacular, during training camp, and that wasn’t good enough to beat out Dadi Nicolas, a sixth-round rookie who has flashed in the four preseason games.
▪ Fragel, 25, is a big body (6 feet 8, 309 pounds) with some ability, but the writing was on the wall for him once he couldn’t surpass Zach Sterup for second-team reps after the Sterup’s recently-announced suspension for taking performance-enhancing drugs.
▪ Johnson, 28, is a five-year veteran who has played some meaningful snaps in the NFL but couldn’t work his way into the top-four safety rotation of Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen and Eric Murray.
▪ Brown, 24, was a seventh-round pick of the Chiefs in 2015. He flashed potential as a possession receiver in training camp and could again be ticketed for a practice-squad invite.
▪ Fleming, 27, earned plenty of defensive snaps the last two years to varying degrees of success but did establish himself as a solid special-teams player on some of the league’s better units. His move to safety this offseason provided an opportunity for him to show some versatility, but he could never solidify himself on the depth chart.
The Chiefs still have at least 15 more cuts to announce by the NFL-mandated 3 p.m. deadline today.