The Kansas City Chiefs have released veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens in a move that frees up salary cap space while leaving a void of veterans in the Chiefs' linebacker room.
Hitchens signed with the Chiefs in March 2018 after spending the first four years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys. Hitchens started every game he was active for as a member of the Chiefs, starting and playing in at least 14 regular-season games each year and all nine of the Chiefs' playoff games during his time in Kansas City.
Hitchens played in three AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls with the Chiefs, recording more than 400 tackles with the Chiefs, combining his regular-season and post-season efforts.
Hitchens was set to have a salary cap hit of $12.66 million in 2022 according to Over the Cap. Even after his release, Hitchens will have a $4.2 million cap hit in 2022 — the final remnants of his prorated bonus from his original signing.
Hitchens's exit was widely predicted after the Chiefs drafted second-round linebackers in back-to-back years, particularly following the selection of 2021 second-round pick Nick Bolton. Bolton saw an increasing role during his rookie season, ultimately leading the team in tackles and winning KC's Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year Award. Bolton now projects to be the Chiefs' surefire middle linebacker, with 2020 second-round pick Willie Gay Jr. flashing his athleticism alongside Bolton.
The Chiefs announced Hitchens's release on the team website, including quotes from general manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid, thanking Hitchens for his time in Kansas City.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach:
"When I first became General Manager, one of the first moves I wanted to make was to bring in Anthony Hitchens from Dallas," Brett Veach said. "We knew how intelligent, hard working and consistent he was as a player, and we knew he'd become a selfless leader. He was that and more. He has all the intangibles and was an integral piece in our franchise winning a Super Bowl title. We appreciate everything he's done for the organization and wish him the best as he continues his career."
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid:
"I really enjoyed the opportunity to coach Anthony over the last four years," Head Coach Andy Reid said. "He's as tough as they come in this league and is a team-first player. I appreciate the way he came to work, ready to do his part, but also his willingness to teach the younger guys around him."