Chiefs might bench Harrison Butker for kickoffs this year: Why Kansas City is considering the drastic change

Harrison Butker has been handling kickoffs for the Kansas City Chiefs since his rookie year in 2017, but that’s something that could be changing this season.

Chiefs special-teams coordinator Dave Toub revealed on Thursday that the team is thinking about sending Butker to the bench for kickoffs this season.

Although Butker has been under fire for making controversial comments at a commencement speech earlier this month, his potential benching has nothing to do with that.

The reason the Chiefs are thinking about keeping Butker on the sideline for kickoffs is because they don’t want him taking hits all season.

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“I like to have somebody who is able to make a tackle, Butker is able to make a tackle, but I really don’t want him making tackles all year long,” Toub told the media.

The difference between this year and the past seven years — when Butker did handle the kickoffs — is that the NFL will be implementing one of the most drastic rule changes in league history in 2024 with its new kickoff rule. The rule was once used in the XFL and after watching film of how the kickoff worked in that league, Toub noticed that kickers were getting beat up because they were almost always involved in the tackle.

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“If you watched the XFL — I watched every play — I bet kickers were involved at least 25% to 40% of the tackles,” Toub said. “Either trying to make a guy bounce back or making the tackle or missing the tackle. We don’t want Butker in that situation.”

Instead of putting Butker in danger, the Chiefs are thinking about trotting out safety Justin Reid or former Rugby player Louis Rees-Zammit, who just signed with the team in March.

On Reid’s end, he’s actually filled in for Butker before after the kicker got injured, so the Chiefs would certainly be comfortable with him handling kickoffs.

There’s actually a huge advantage to letting Reid kick off and that’s the fact that the team now has to account for the kicker.

“Justin can cover, he can kick, and he can go down there and make tackles,” Toub said. “He’s an extra guy they’re probably not accounting for. …  A guy like Justin is a guy they have to worry about. They have to get him blocked and they have to give up blocking someone else.”

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