COVID-19 has really started to hit the NFL hard over these last few weeks and has even forced a number of games to be rescheduled. One of the latest teams to feel the wrath of the ever-evolving pandemic appears to be the Kansas City Chiefs, who have a growing number of players being placed on the COVID-19 list. According to ESPN, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, cornerback Rashad Fenton and tight end Blake Bell are the latest to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Kansas City had previously placed tight end Travis Kelce, kicker Harrison Butker and corner Charvarius Ward on the COVID-19 list on Monday, and that group could continue to grow. According to Nate Taylor of The Athletic, "quite a few" more Chiefs are expected to be placed on the list later on Tuesday as well.
This now puts the status of foundational players like Hill, Kelce, and Butker in serious doubt as Kansas City is gearing up for a Week 16 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
This comes after the Chiefs were just able to ascend to the No. 1 seed in the AFC thanks to their win over the Chargers in Week 15 and New England's loss to the Colts. While they are in a solid playoff position at the moment, the margins are razor-thin in the AFC, so each of these remaining three games does have the power to completely flip the current playoff picture in the conference. Being at full strength is imperative at this point in the year.
The NFL's updated COVID-10 protocols do make it easier for vaccinated players to return from the COVID-19 list. So long as they are asymptomatic and test negative twice within a day, they will be able to return. Players who are unvaccinated, however, are subjected to a 10-day mandatory quarantine.
If Hill and/or Kelce are unable to be activated in time for Week 16, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson are pass catchers that could see some extra work. The Chiefs could also lean more on their backfield with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrell Williams as well.