The Kansas City Chiefs waived cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. on Monday as the team inched closer and closer to the NFL's required roster cutdown from 90-man rosters to 85 players. What if I told you that this is even further evidence of Kansas City's ongoing youth movement at the position?
That probably sounds crazy, as Johnson is still just 26 years old and won't turn 27 for a few more months. This is just his fourth season in the NFL, after all. With that said, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach also let 26-year-old Charvarius Ward and 25-year-old Mike Hughes walk via free agency earlier this offseason. A year ago, he made the decision to not retain veteran Bashaud Breeland. Something like this has been in the works for a while now.
Of the Chiefs' projected (majority) top five cornerbacks, the average age is 23 years old. The elder statesmen of the group are Rashad Fenton (25) and L'Jarius Sneed (25). Behind them in age are rookies Jaylen Watson (23), Joshua Williams (22) and Trent McDuffie (21 until mid-September). Of those fighting for a possible final spot and/or a depth chart ranking, Chris Lammons (26) and Dicaprio Bootle (24) are both young players. Again, this is by design. The Chiefs are clearly going young at cornerback, and they're also doing it their way. No one else's.
All five of the aforementioned projected top cornerbacks are Chiefs draft picks. Fenton was a sixth-round selection back in 2019, and Sneed went in the fourth round just a year later. The trio of McDuffie, Williams and Watson stemmed from the Chiefs' first, fourth- and seventh-round picks this year. Veach is helping defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo build his secondary — one that consists of homegrown talent and clay that can be molded into whatever the coaching staff sees fit. Allowing slightly older, more expensive or less-malleable players such as Ward, Hughes and Johnson go is par for the course here. It's a part of the plan.
Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on Tuesday's Roughing the Kicker podcast to break down the Chiefs' first preseason game, as well as talk about some players who helped or hurt their stock in game No. 1. We also discussed the Lonnie Johnson transaction and how it impacts the team moving forward.
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