Louis Rees-Zammit set to join Kansas City Chiefs as NFL dream moves closer

Louis Rees-Zammit quit rugby to pursue his NFL dream – PA

Louis Rees-Zammit’s dream of playing in the NFL has moved one step closer with the former Wales wing set to sign for the Kansas City Chiefs later this week, according to reports in the United States.

Rees-Zammit will link up the back-to-back Super Bowl champions and train this summer alongside Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce as he tries to make it onto the team’s final 53-man roster ahead of the new season, with the Chiefs planning to use Rees-Zammit as ‘offensive weapon’ at running back and wide receiver.

Rees-Zammit, 23, has visited multiple NFL teams since participating in the NFL’s International Player Pathway combine last week in Florida, during which he competed in a number of drills in front of scouts to show off his athleticism, running a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 seconds which he later admitted to reporters he was disappointed with.

Since the combine, Rees-Zammit has visited a number of NFL franchises including the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos.

By signing to play for the Kansas City he now joins the most dominant franchise currently in the NFL, with the Chiefs winning three of the last five Super Bowls under Reid with Mahomes at quarterback, including Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas last month against the San Francisco 49ers.

Reid’s inventive offenses despite limited options at wide receiver have been key to the Chiefs’ success, with reports in the US suggesting that the head coach plans to use Rees-Zammit in a number of different positions and roles.

Rees-Zammit told Telegraph Sport last month that the players he hoped to emulate in the NFL were Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, who both play as running back/wide receiver hybrids for the 49ers. Rees-Zammit also highlighted DeSean Jackson as a player he enjoyed watching while growing up, a speedy receiver best known for a sensational punt return playing for the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants dubbed the ‘Miracle of the Meadowlands’.

Kick-returner is another likely position the Chiefs will try to use Rees-Zammit in, with the NFL also announcing revised kickoff rules this week which could suit Rees-Zammit’s pace and footwork.

Rees-Zammit stunned Wales and Gloucester by retiring from rugby back in January to take part in the IPP, a 10-week crash course for international players trying to make it in the NFL. He was the youngest player on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 and scored 14 tries in 42 Tests for Wales, along with 42 tries in 77 games for Gloucester.

His desire to try and play in the NFL was created by his father, Joe, who played for Cardiff Tigers in the 1980s. Rees-Zammit told the Telegraph Rugby Podcast: “It was quite tough back then. Unless you had money and you were able to fly out to America and go to college there. He wasn’t able to do that so to kind of continue his legacy, allow him to say his son is in the NFL, would be a dream come true for me.”

Explainer: how close is Rees-Zammit to playing in the NFL?

Off-season workouts for NFL teams with returning head coaches begin in mid-April, with Rees-Zammit getting to know all of his Chiefs team-mates for the first time. Pre-season rosters in the NFL can carry up to 90 players, with the NFL Draft taking place at the end of this month as teams attempt to add the best rookie players from College.

Rees-Zammit would also be part of rookie training camps in mid-May, before all players regather for Organized Team Activities (OTAs) which take place at the end of May/beginning of June. Players then return for Training Camps in mid-July, building towards pre-season games and trying to impress coaches enough to make the final 53-man roster for the new season.

Will Rees-Zammit go on the practice squad?

This depends on his progress throughout training camp and originally seemed the most likely option for Rees-Zammit, with the practice squad this year expanding to 17 players for all 32 clubs if one player is a qualifying international player. That move allows teams to continue to develop the international player’s skills and understanding of the sport while still keeping a full practice squad of more experienced players.

With star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have won three of the past five Super Bowls

With star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs have won three of the past five Super Bowls – AP

The practice squad allows players to remain as part of the team even if there is no space on the main 53-man roster, before potentially being added back into the 90-man roster the following off-season. Up to two players can also be called up from the practice squad to the main roster each week to play in NFL games.

Christian Wade, the England wing now at Racing 92, spent three years on the Buffalo Bills practice squad, famously scoring a touchdown with his first carry in a pre-season game back in 2019.

When are roster cutdowns?

Teams must confirm their final 53-man roster usually by the end of August. Should Rees-Zammit make the cut, even though the athletic traits are obviously there it would be an extraordinary achievement given his lack of NFL experience before taking part in the IPP,  having to learn the entire sport over 10 weeks.

How much money will he make?

Based on figures from 2023, should Rees-Zammit be placed on the practice squad, the absolute minimum salary he would make would be $12,000 (£9,500) per week, coming to a total of $216,000 over an NFL season (£170,000). Should Rees-Zammit make the final 53-man roster, then the minimum salary for a rookie is $750,000 (£594,350) per year.

Telegraph Sport reported back in January that Rees-Zammit’s final salary with Gloucester was £225,000 per season, with Rees-Zammit earning extra money from his appearance fees playing for Wales.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top