Chiefs signing European rugby star as offensive weapon, reports say

Louis Rees-Zammit reportedly also visited with the Browns, Broncos and Jets.

Louis Rees-Zammit
Michael Steele/Getty Images
FILE — Louis Rees-Zammit of Gloucester during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park on Nov. 19, 2023, in Exeter, England.

The Kansas City Chiefs reportedly are making an addition to their roster from outside the football world.

The reigning Super Bowl champions have agreed to a deal with European rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit, according to multiple reports. Rees-Zammit will ink his deal with Kansas City on Friday, per Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz.

The Chiefs reportedly plan to deploy Rees-Zammit at running back and/or receiver. With the NFL's new kickoff rules, it wouldn't be surprising if Kansas City experiments with Rees-Zammit at returner as well.

The 23-year-old Welshman was one of the top wingers in rugby before announcing in January he was quitting the sport to pursue a career in the NFL. He joined the NFL's International Player Pathway, which is a program that provides elite athletes from around the world a chance to make an NFL roster and aims to increase the number of international players in the league.

Last week, Rees-Zammit participated in the program's pro day, where he ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash while posting a 9-foot-7 broad jump and 29-inch vertical jump. For context, his 40 time would have ranked fifth among running backs at this year's NFL combine and tied for 13th among receivers.

“A bit disappointed in my 40,” Rees-Zammit said following his pro day. “Last week, I was getting some really good times. I was getting low 4.3s, high 4.2s. So it is what it is. It’s just what happens on the day. But I know I can run that fast. I’m not trying to make excuses or anything, but I know what I can do and I’m happy with the day and how the day went."

Rees-Zammit, whose favorite NFL player growing up was three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, said he watched a lot of footage of San Francisco 49ers stars Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel as he envisions himself as a versatile offensive weapon.

"I want to be a player that can play multiple positions and I fully believe I can, so being able to play out of the backfield, being able to line up as a receiver, in the slot, wide out," he said.

Along with the Chiefs, Rees-Zammit reportedly also visited with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and New York Jets.

Rees-Zammit was one of 15 athletes from eight countries participating in the International Player Pathway program. The prospects spend 10 weeks training at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, getting a crash course in practicing the fundamentals of football and learning the intricacies of a game most have never played.

Since the program's inception in 2017, a total of 37 international players have signed with NFL teams, with five making it onto active rosters. Eagles star left tackle Jordan Mailata, a former rugby played drafted in the seventh round by Philadelphia in 2017, is the program's most notable alum.

Starting in the 2024 season, NFL teams will have an additional 17th practice squad spot available for an international player. An international practice squad player can be elevated to the active roster a maximum of three times throughout the season.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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