Chiefs' Justin Reid Has Fascinating Perspective on New Kickoff Rules

The KC safety and occasional fill-in kicker thinks there's a unique opportunity for him with the kickoff changes.
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs safety Justin Reid (20)
Feb 11, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Elijah Mitchell (25) is tackled by Kansas City Chiefs safety Justin Reid (20) / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Kickoffs in the NFL will look a little different this year as the league's compeititon committee approved new rules for the 2024 season. The goal of these new rules is to reintroduce the kickoff as an exciting part of the game, as it was for most of football history, while still maintaining modern safety standards.

They also represent the most meaningful rule changes the league has made in a long time. As such, the consequences of them will not be fully realized until the games begin.

Kansas City Chefs safety and occasional fill-in kicker Justin Reid has a particularly unique and fascinating view of how these rules will change the game. Appearing on the Green Light With Chris Long podcast, Reid told former NFLer Chris Long there may be room for a new specialist of sorts.

"We might've added some time to my career," Reid said. "We might have extended my career a couple years. The earning window is huge with this. When I'm done being the starting guy on safety, I can turn into that rotational third safety and also be a kickoff specialist, you know."

It's a great point and one that hasn't really been brought up yet— when the game's rules are designed to allow for more kick returns, there is going to be a market for kickers who can tackle. Potentially a lucrative one if deep kickoff returns become commonplace. And it's a lot easier to teach a defender how to kick than to teach a kicker how to tackle.

Reid already knows how to do both, which is probably why his mind wandered in this direction. He filled in for Harrison Butker due to injury at points in 2022 and 2023. Reid made a few extra points but kickoffs were a trickier proposition because, being a safety, he was not as capable of booming kicks out of the end zone.

That may not matter in 2024, though, as Reid explained his point further later on in the podcast.

"The whole dynamic of hang time has completely flipped," the safety said. "Normally, on kickoff, kickers are great at trying to have a four-second hang time to give guys time to get down the field, but now you're trying to keep the ball as low as possible while still in play. You're trying to get it to hit the ground because when the ball hits the ground, that's now your hang time. Guys can take off at that point and however much time it takes the returner to pick up the ball, that's them wasting time.

So that whole dynamic is completely flipped on its head. It's a different kick, it's a different style, it's a lot more aggressive trying to hit the low ball."

All the factors at play suggest Reid is onto something. Kickers who can tackle are going to be quite useful and, at least from the outside, it seems like hitting a low liner would be easier than booting the pigskin 80 yards through the uprights.

Kickers don't have to worry, though. They'll still be needed for extra points.

A very interesting first look into how the rule changes might affect the game at the macro level.

UPDATE: After publication, Reid hit up Sports Illustrated on Twitter to inform us kickoffs aren't a problem for him.


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Liam McKeone

LIAM MCKEONE

Liam McKeone is a senior writer for the Breaking and Trending News team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in May 2024, McKeone worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, he is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books and video games. McKeone has been a member of the National Sports Media Association since 2020.