Continuity isn't always a guarantee in the NFL. For the Kansas City Chiefs, they had fullback Anthony Sherman on the roster for eight consecutive seasons. That won't be the case heading into the 2021 campaign, though.
After his age-32 season, Sherman announced his retirement in a fashion that only he could. In his Chiefs career, he ran for 552 yards and scored five total touchdowns. While Sherman was far from a star, he played a critical role in the team's success throughout his tenure.
As explained by Arrowhead Report's Mark Van Sickle, Sherman was responsible for creating several great memories that many will never forget. In the spirit of the Fourth of July — a perfect encapsulation of Sherman's spirit — Mark joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to appreciate a Chiefs great while also discussing how his production can be replaced this season.
First and foremost, it wouldn't be fair to have a discussion about fullbacks without mentioning Michael Burton. Burton was signed to a one-year contract this offseason after playing for the New Orleans Saints in 2020. Burton, now playing on his fifth team in seven seasons, ran for 18 yards on seven attempts and added 28 receiving yards last year. He makes obvious sense as a possible Sherman replacement.
Outside of Burton, the tight end depth chart could step up. Blake Bell, Nick Keizer and rookie Noah Gray all have different skillsets. Bell is a more traditional tight end No. 2 who has prior experience in that role as a member of the Chiefs in 2019. Keizer, despite his shortcomings a year ago, projects to be a possible special teams contributor at the very least. Gray is the wild card.
A fifth-round pick in this year's draft, Gray has a lot of desirable traits to serve as an "H-back" or "move" tight end. In an offset alignment that oftentimes mimics that of a fullback, Gray's ability to win individual matchups and find soft spots in coverage could help the Chiefs on offense. With that said, his skills as a blocker would undoubtedly be put to the test.
Regardless of who the Chiefs pick to fill in as a fullback (either conventional or unorthodox) this season, that player has big shoes to fill. Sherman may not have been the flashiest athlete, but he did his job at a very high level. Consistency and timely contributions are critical factors in winning football games, and he provided that. Whether it's Burton or a combination of Bell, Keizer and Gray, that trend must continue in 2021.
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