KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs waived Cairo Santos on Friday, allowing the injury kicker to test his options as he recovers from a groin injury sustained before last Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The team reached an injury settlement with Santos after placing him on injured reserve. That move meant Santos could not practice with the team for at least six weeks and could not return to action for at least eight weeks.
An injury settlement provides the Chiefs with some modest salary cap relief. Santos signed a one-year contract during the offseason worth $1.797 million.
If Santos clears waivers, the Chiefs cannot re-sign Santos for at least six weeks, depending upon the final terms of the injury settlement.
The move also means the Chiefs would not need to use a designate to return option on Santos if he returns. The Chiefs can bring two players back from injured reserve each season. The team plans to use one of those tags on cornerback Steven Nelson.
Santos suffered a groin injury during training camp. The team said that injury resulted from scar tissue remaining from an injury sustained during college at Tulane.
The kicker told team trainers he felt a pull in this groin during his final warmup kick against the Chargers. Santos played in the game but struggled on kickoffs. He reported to the team facility in worse pain Monday, according to head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.
“We did some studies on him and realized he has a fairly significant groin injury that will limit him from playing in the next few weeks,” Burkholder said, “so as they process goes they decide what to do with him on the roster and that’s why he’s on injured reserve now.”
The move signals the Chiefs hold great confidence in rookie kicker Harrison Butker. The team signed Butker Tuesday from the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers, which drafted the former Georgia Tech kicker in the seventh round of this year’s draft.
The Chiefs could always comeback to Santos down the road if he returns to good health. For now, however, the team’s kicking future belongs solely to Butker.
Butker said he spoke to Santos after the team placed him on waivers.
“Cairo’s a great kicker,” Butker said. “I wished him luck. I’m sure he’ll do great wherever he goes.”
Butker said Santos wished him good luck.
“He said it’s a great organization,” Butker said. “I’ll be a Kansas City Chiefs fan. I’ll be tuning in to see how you do.”