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Chiefs use Exclusive Rights Tender to keep 5 players, including key special teams contributors

Chiefs Football
Jack Cochrane
Malik Herring
Mike Caliendo
Posted at 11:04 AM, Mar 12, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two key linemen, two key special-teams linebackers and a cornerback returning from injury will remain with the Kansas City Chiefs after the team placed Exclusive Rights Tenders on five players with fewer than three years of NFL service time.

The club announced Monday that it had used the roster mechanism, which grants Kansas City the exclusive right to negotiate a new contract, to retain guard Mike Caliendo, linebackers Cole Christiansen and Jack Cochrane, defensive end Malik Herring and cornerback Nazeeh Johnson.

Caliendo, who went undrafted out of Western Michigan, spent 2022 on the Chiefs’ practice squad before appearing in eight games last season. He will need to step into a backup role with the departure of Nick Allegretti in free agency.

Christiansen, an undrafted free agent from Army in 2020, spent his first two NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers and has appeared in six games during the last two seasons with Kansas City.

Cochrane, who went undrafted in 2022, has established himself as a core special-teams player — appearing in 32 games, including one start in the 2023 season finale, during his first two NFL seasons.

He made a career-high 28 tackles, including two for a loss, last season.

Herring went undrafted in 2021 after suffering a torn ACL before the Senior Bowl and missed his rookie season, but he has appeared in 14 games, including one start, in the last two seasons.

In 2023, Herring finished with career-highs for tackles (10), sacks (1 1/2), tackles for a loss (two) and quarterback hits (three). He also had a pass defense and a forced fumble, then added four more tackles in the postseason after establishing himself as a rotational player.

Johnson, a seventh-round pick in 2022 from Marshall, was pushing for a spot as an outside cornerback early in training camp before a torn ACL landed him on injured reserve for the 2023 season.

He appeared in 11 games as a rookie in 2022, establishing himself as a core special-teams player, and finished with eight tackles.