The Las Vegas Raiders have signed former Kansas City Chiefs second-round pick Breeland Speaks to their practice squad, according to the NFL transaction wire.
Speaks, the Chiefs' 46th overall pick in 2018, was released when the Chiefs cut their roster down to 53 players on September 5. The Chiefs traded up for Speaks, giving up the 54th and 78th overall picks for Cincinnati's 46th and 100th picks, selecting Speaks at 46. Speaks had trouble staying on the field in 2018, playing as an outside linebacker in then-defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's system. In 2019, Speaks was injured, went on injured reserve, then received a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy while out.
After Speaks' release, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach discussed the decision to release Speaks, who was Kansas City's first selection in 2018, since the Chiefs' first-round pick had been traded in the team's 2017 move to trade up for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“That was certainly a unique scenario where, of all the positions – I certainly think we have a very good roster, a very talented roster – that defensive line position is probably our deepest position," Veach said.
Veach noted that Speaks was learning a different scheme than he was in his rookie season, but that he and the staff thought he was laying a foundation in his rookie year.
"And we all know that he came in a little out of shape the next year, and then he had the injury," Veach said. "So, I think when you get behind the eight-ball in professional football it’s tough, and then when you get behind the eight-ball on a roster with a deep defensive line, it’s even tougher. I will say this – credit to the kid – he did come in in shape and worked hard to get that weight off. Again, he was just up against a very deep and talented defensive line class. Our staff, both coaching and personnel staff, we’re always committed to doing what we feel is best for the team and playing the best players, and the guys that are on our active roster, we felt that day-by-day and the way they graded out, they just performed better and they deserve to be on the team.”
Veach later talked more about Speaks' struggle to return to full health before turning the focus back to the Chiefs' depth at defensive end.
"Again, it certainly did put him behind the eight-ball in that regard," Veach said. "Not having a year of football is certainly going to be tough, and then when you throw in the factor of having [Frank] Clark and Tanoh [Kpassagnon] and [Alex] Okafor, Taco [Charlton] had a good camp, obviously he made the roster, and Mike Danna had a really good camp, so it was just one of those scenarios for him where having the year off, having to go through a lengthy rehab process and going out there competing against that deep defensive line was a tough ask. He competed his tail off and I'm sure he'll learn a lot from this experience here and it will help him in the future.”
If Speaks is able to learn from his time in Kansas City, it will be to the benefit of the Chiefs' longtime rival in silver and black.