The tight end position became an area of strength on the Chiefs’ offense based on the play of an emerging second-year star.
2014 ROSTER: Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano, Richard Gordon
INJURED RESERVE: Demetrius Harris (foot)
2015 FREE AGENTS: Richard Gordon, Demetrius Harris (exclusive rights)
The tight end corps, anchored by second-year pro Travis Kelce, rebounded from the 2013 season to become a foundation in the passing game.
The overall production from the tight end group in 2014 resulted in 96 catches for 1,111 yards and nine touchdowns, a stark contrast to the previous season when the tight ends combined for 53 catches for 541 yards and five touchdowns.
The 6-5, 260-pound Kelce, who returned from microfracture knee surgery the season before, led the Chiefs in receptions (67), yards receiving (862) and five touchdowns on 87 targets in his first full season of action.
Kelce’s receiving touchdowns tied with running back Jamaal Charles for the team lead in receiving scores and the 87 targets ranked second behind wide receiver Dwayne Bowe’s 95.
Veteran Anthony Fasano finished with 25 catches for 226 yards and four touchdowns on 37 targets. Fasano suffered a knee injury in Week 10 and did not play in Week 11.
The Chiefs enjoyed success with the incorporation of three-tight end sets, posting a 7-3 record through Week 10.
But the utilization of the three-tight end set suffered a blow in Week 10 when Demetrius Harris broke his foot during pregame warm-ups. The Chiefs placed Harris on injured reserve on Nov. 11 and he finished the season with three catches for 20 yards on five targets.
The Chiefs signed Phillip Supernaw off the Baltimore Ravens practice squad on Nov. 11 to replace Harris. Supernaw appeared in two games with one start before being inactive for Week 13. The Chiefs waived Supernaw on Dec. 1 and he contributed one catch for 3 yards during his short stint in Kansas City.
Kansas City signed Richard Gordon, who spent the latter part of the 2013 season and the 2014 offseason with the Chiefs, as a replacement for Supernaw. But Gordon was inactive in Weeks 14-15 and didn’t record a catch in the final two games.
Kelce offers a bright future for a skill position that plays a vital role in coach Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense.
Still, the Chiefs need to bolster depth if Harris, an exclusive rights free agent, and Gordon aren’t re-signed.
The team is high on Harris, however, so not bringing him back would surprise.
ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK?
Fasano is due a base salary of $2.8 million in 2015 and will count $4.2 million against the salary cap.
Those are hefty amounts for a player who has totaled 48 catches for 426 yards and seven touchdowns in 24 games with 22 starts the last two seasons.
While Fasano is a trusted target for quarterback Alex Smith, especially in the red zone, the Chiefs could look to restructure Fasano’s salary given the emergence of Kelce.