Welsh rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit agrees to a contract with the Chiefs, AP source says

by 24USATVMarch 29, 2024, 1 a.m. 21
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Welsh rugby star Louis Rees-Zammit has agreed to a contract with the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the deal.

The 23-year-old Rees-Zammit, one of the best wingers in rugby, announced in January that he was leaving the Welsh national team to pursue a dream of playing in the NFL. He’s projected as a returner/running back/wide receiver.

Rees-Zammit is one of 15 athletes from eight countries participating in the NFL International Player Pathway program. The prospects have spent 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.

Rees-Zammit ran an official time of 4.43 in the 40-yard dash last week when the international players participated in the University of South Florida’s pro day. He drew a lot of attention from a crowd that included 51 scouts from 31 teams.

“A bit disappointed in my 40,” Rees-Zammit told the AP afterward. “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, hopes to play like 49ers stars Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.

“I watched a lot of footage of Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, players like that who’ve got that versatility because 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, wideout,” Rees-Zammit said last week. “I’ve learned a lot in the past eight weeks and I’m pretty excited to see what will happen.”

He’ll get an opportunity to catch passes from three-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and learn from coach Andy Reid. The NFL’s new kickoff rule that makes returners more relevant gives Rees-Zammit a chance to make the team as a specialist.

For the first time this season, each team will have a 17th roster spot on the practice squad specifically available for an international player. Teams also are permitted to promote an international practice squad player to the active roster a maximum of three times throughout the season — increasing opportunities for players to develop and get a chance to play.

Teams will also receive one training camp roster exemption for a qualifying international player.

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