Skip to main content

Kansas City Chiefs Official Team Website |

Pre-Camp Breakdown: Travis Kelce Leads a Deep Group of Athletic Tight Ends

The Chiefs currently feature six tight ends on the roster heading into training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to kick off training camp in just a few short weeks, and with the annual pilgrimage to St. Joseph nearly here, we're examining every position group on the roster heading into camp.

Here's a look at what we've covered so far: QB | RB

We'll continue with tight end, where the Chiefs currently employ six players. Here's a closer look at each of them, listed in alphabetical order (with the exception of Travis Kelce, who is discussed first).

Travis Kelce

It's not an exaggeration to say that Kelce is already one of the best to ever play the position. For starters, the 33-year-old Kelce, who is assuredly heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, owns an active streak of seven-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since 2016. Only Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver Mike Evans – who has compiled nine-straight such seasons – owns a longer active streak among all players.

In fact, prior to Kelce's recent efforts, the NFL record for total career 1,000-yard seasons by a tight end was four. Kelce is on the verge of not only doubling that record, but he is about to potentially do so by compiling all of those 1,000-yard campaigns consecutively.

Additionally, Kelce is the only player in the NFL to haul in at least 90 receptions in each of the last five seasons. In that span, Kelce ranks second in the league in receptions (507), third in receiving yards (6,444) and fourth in touchdown catches (47).

Kelce tallied a career-best 110 receptions for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2022, and despite being the most-tenured player on the Chiefs' roster, the All-Pro tight end is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Blake Bell

The 31-year-old Bell is entering his third-consecutive (and fourth overall) season with the Chiefs after an injury suffered in last year's preseason limited the veteran tight end to just four games in 2022 (including the playoffs). Bell caught three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown in those four games of action, but he also logged 23 snaps as a run-blocker.

Bell was among the league's best blocking tight ends in 2021, and now healthy, he'll aim to bring his varied skillset as both a pass-catcher and a blocker to the Chiefs' offense this upcoming season.

Kendall Blanton

A "Reserve/Future" signee back in February, Blanton chose to return to Kansas City after spending time on the Chiefs' practice squad in 2022. The 6-foot-6, 262-pound Blanton – who grew up in nearby Blue Springs and attended the University of Missouri – has six receptions for 72 yards in 16 career regular season games.

He logged four appearances with the Los Angeles Rams last season (in-between stints on the Chiefs' practice squad), hauling in two grabs for 35 yards.

Matt Bushman

Bushman was making a strong case to earn a roster spot last August with two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers in the Chiefs' final preseason game, but a broken clavicle suffered on his final reception of the contest effectively ended his season before it truly began.

The 27-year-old Bushman originally joined the Chiefs as a "Reserve/Future" signee early in last year's offseason after a brief stint on the practice squad during the 2021-22 playoffs. He spent most of the 2021 campaign on the Las Vegas Raiders' practice squad, seeing action in two games (11 offensive snaps). The BYU alum stands at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds.

Jody Fortson

Fortson will look to earn a spot on the Chiefs' 53-man roster for a third-straight season after hauling in nine receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games last year.

The 6-foot-4, 226-pound Fortson is a unique weapon at tight end due to his athleticism, which is comparable to that of a wide receiver. In fact, Fortson was listed as a wide receiver until he made the switch to tight end ahead of the 2021 season. That combination of size and athleticism makes Fortson a problem in terms of coverage, and while his numbers last season may appear modest, he certainly made the most of his targets.

For example, Fortson tallied two touchdowns in "Goal-to-Go" situations early in the season, doing so in Week 1 and Week 4. He also hauled in a terrific, 40-yard catch in the Chiefs' victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 11.

Fortson has grown within the Chiefs' offense in each of his four years with the organization, emerging from a practice squad player in 2019 and 2020 to a regular on the active roster, and at still only 27 years old, it's quite possible that the best is yet to come.

Noah Gray

Gray enjoyed a strong sophomore season in 2023 with 28 receptions for 299 yards and a touchdown, increasing his overall production significantly from the year prior. He logged at least one catch in 16 of his 17 regular season games, hauling in multiple grabs on eight occasions.

The former fifth-round pick also contributed one of the most important receptions of the season, catching a 27-yard pass on third down to move the chains in overtime against the Tennessee Titans in Week 9. The Chiefs went on to win that game due in large part to Gray's efforts.

Additionally, Gray was one of the Chiefs' most consistent contributors on special teams last season, as his 282 special teams' snaps ranked third on the team behind only defensive backs Chris Lammons (322) and Deon Bush (317).

Now entering his third season as a professional, Gray will likely have an opportunity to earn a larger role on offense in 2023.

The Bottom Line

The Chiefs have elected to keep exactly four tight ends on the Week 1 roster in each of the last three seasons, with the quartet of Kelce, Bell, Fortson and Gray making up that group in both 2021 and 2022. In fact, the Chiefs thought enough of Bell last year that they chose to add him to the initial 53-man roster prior to placing him on Injured Reserve following camp, which allowed for the possibility of his return sometime during the 2022 season. Conversely, if the Chiefs had placed Bell on Injured Reserve before roster cuts, he would have been lost for the entirety of the season. The decision meant that the Chiefs essentially kept only 52 healthy players on the initial roster – as opposed to 53 – in order to keep Bell's season alive, waiving other players that they may have otherwise kept in the process.

It's all to say that the Chiefs have demonstrated that they like and trust those four players, but with no fullback currently on the roster for the first time in the tenure of Head Coach Andy Reid, it's not out of the realm of possibility that a fifth tight end could make the team. Reid has previously indicated that the tight end group will collectively handle the responsibilities previously held by former fullback Michael Burton, and if any of the players listed above – particularly Bushman or Blanton – can show an aptitude for that role in training camp, there could be an opportunity for them on the active roster.

Additionally, the expanded practice squad creates the possibility that all six of these players could conceivably tally snaps for the Chiefs in 2023 regardless of who makes the initial 53-man roster.

The answer to those questions – which are fun to think through during this time of year – will be answered soon enough when the Chiefs head to training camp later this month.

Related Content