Travis Kelce Reportedly Placed on Reserve/COVID-19 List Ahead of Steelers vs. Chiefs

Adam WellsDecember 20, 2021

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) running on the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce is being placed on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday.

Schefter noted that Kelce "is vaccinated so there's a chance he's back for Sunday with the new return-to-play protocols."

The Chiefs face the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend.

While Patrick Mahomes rightly receives most of the attention in Kansas City, Kelce is an essential part of what makes the offense such an unstoppable force. He recorded back-to-back 100-yard receiving games in Weeks 2 and 3.

The three-time All-Pro set an NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,416 yards in 2020. It marked his fifth consecutive season passing the 1,000-yard barrier. He also set a Chiefs franchise record with 105 receptions last season.

Losing Kelce would leave a significant void in the Chiefs passing game, especially as the offense has struggled to find a rhythm.

Mahomes would still have Tyreek Hill on the outside, but there wouldn't be a proven second option behind him. Mecole Hardman has tremendous speed, though his production fell off from 20.7 yards per catch as a rookie in 2019 to 13.7 last season to 10.8 so far in 2021.

The Chiefs signed Josh Gordon after a Week 3 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers to boost their receiver depth. However, it's unclear how much the 30-year-old still has left in the tank at this point. He has four catches for 27 yards and a score in nine games.

Veteran Blake Bell will serve as Kansas City's primary tight end if Kelce is ruled out for Sunday. The 30-year-old returned to the Chiefs this offseason after spending 2020 with the Dallas Cowboys. He has only 41 yards on five receptions in 13 games this season.