Chiefs release LB Anthony Hitchens in cap-clearing move

Steelers Chiefs Football
Posted at 2:18 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 15:36:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs announced Tuesday that linebacker Anthony Hitchens has been released.

The move, which was widely expected, saves the Chiefs more than $8.4 million against the 2022 salary cap with more than $4.2 million dead money, according to Over the Cap.

Hitchens, who spent his first four NFL seasons with Dallas, had been with the Chiefs for four years after signing a five-year, $45-million contract in 2018.

He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2018, racking up a team- and career-high 135 tackles in former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's scheme, and led Kansas City in tackles again in 2019 (88) under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

"I really enjoyed the opportunity to coach Anthony over the last four years," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said in a statement. "He's as tough as they come in this league and is a team-first player. I appreciate the way he came to work, ready to do his part, but also his willingness to teach the younger guys around him."

Hitchens averaged only 79 tackles during the last two seasons and seemed to have slowed down a bit, which also made him a liability in pass coverage.

The Chiefs thanked Hitchens, who helped the franchise snap a half-century Super Bowl drought and served as a captain and play-caller for the defense, before announcing that he’d been released.

Nick Bolton, a second-round pick from Mizzou who was chosen as Kansas City's top rookie after leading the team in tackles in 2021 (112), seems poised to step in at middle linebacker for Hitchens.

Bolton thrived despite playing out of position for much of the season, blocked by Hitchens. The Chiefs' defensive staff valued Hitchens' veteran presence, grasp of the system and command of the on-field play-calling.

"When I first became General Manager, one of the first moves I wanted to make was to bring in Anthony Hitchens from Dallas," Brett Veach said in a statement. "We knew how intelligent, hard working and consistent he was as a player, and we knew he'd become a selfless leader. He was that and more. He has all the intangibles and was an integral piece in our franchise winning a Super Bowl title. We appreciate everything he's done for the organization and wish him the best as he continues his career."

Hitchens appeared in 59 games with Kansas City — finishing with 381 tackles, including 17 for a loss, with two sacks and an interception.

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