Chiefs Replacing Harrison Butker on Kickoff Team Due to NFL Rule Change

chiefs replacing harrison butker on kickoff team due to nfl rule change

LAS VEGAS, NV - FEBRUARY 11: Harrison Butker #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs warms up prior to Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, NV. Butker won't do kickoffs this year for the Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs will have a new kickoff specialist in 2024.

Justin Reid, a six-year NFL veteran free safety, will have to update his position title this season. Reid will be the Chiefs' kicker on kickoffs due to the NFL's recent rule change.

Beginning this season, kickoffs in the NFL will look very different. Rather than having the kicking team start at their own 35-yard line, everyone (aside from the kicker) will be on the receiving team's 40-yard line. They won't be able to move until the kick returner catches the ball, and then all chaos will ensue.

The NFL has tried to crack down on kickoffs over the last few seasons, as the head-on collisions at high speeds caused tons of injuries. However, the rule changes essentially took kickoffs out of the game.

So, the NFL wanted to find a way to bring kickoffs back in a safe manner, and they'll try this big change in 2024. It's made teams have to rethink their kickoff plans, though.

While Baltimore Ravens All-Pro kicker Justin Tucker said he's hit the weight room this offseason to better be prepared to make tackles as the team's last line of defense (by a lot) on kickoffs, the Chiefs are planning on using a different player altogether.

Reid, a safety who has seven career kickoff attempts in the NFL, will take over full-time duties this year, he said on the "Green Light with Chris Long" podcast this week.

Why?

Well, he's much more prepared to make a touchdown-saving tackle than the team's placekicker Harrison Butker.

"The advantage for us is that if I'm doing the job, which is what we're planning on doing, then I can fill that last gap, so it makes it a little bit easier, and nobody needs to win two gaps," Reid said on the podcast. "Although I know he (Butker) can make some tackles, I think he's excited to preserve himself, and we can use him where we really need him, which is those fourth-quarter situations to go nail a 60-yard field goal and win the game. It would be devastating to try and trot a guy out there who's still nicked up from trying to make a tackle in the second quarter."

Reid has stepped in as the team's kickoff specialist before, but will now have much greater responsibilities as he quickly shifts from kicking to tackling. He's up for the challenge, though, and excited about his career potentially being prolonged.

"We might have added some time to my career. You might've extended my show a couple years," Reid said. "When I'm done being the starting guy on safety, I can turn into that rotational third safety and also be a kickoff specialist."

The Chiefs are the only known team that will have a defensive player taking kickoffs in 2024, but it remains to be seen how the other 31 teams will handle this big rule change.

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