Thursday, May 10, 2012

Signed on Tuesday, Pitoitua will compete for a roster spot behind starting defensive ends Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson

Ropati Pitoitua, a massive backup defensive lineman cut by the Jets last week, joins a Chiefs roster with plenty of opportunity to make an on-field impact next season.

The 6’8”, 315-pounder cleared waivers and was in Kansas City on Monday before signing an undisclosed contract with the Chiefs Tuesday evening. New York was scheduled to pay Pitoitua a $950,000 base salary plus a $200,000 workout bonus in 2012.

Pitoitua became expendable after the Jets drafted North Carolina DE Quinton Coples 16th overall in this year’s draft. The 27-year old was an active part of New York’s defensive line rotation last season, playing nearly 350 snaps over 14 games as a reserve.

In Kansas City, Pitoitua will compete for a roster spot as a “five-technique” player behind starting defensive ends Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey. Acquiring a run-stopping defensive end to play in base sets was one of the Chiefs larger post-draft needs.

Pitoitua’s role has the potential to mirror the one Shaun Smith played for the team two season ago.

Smith (6’2”, 325) was originally signed to play nose tackle, but shifted outside and became the primary backup to both Jackson and Dorsey in Kansas City’s base defense. He went on to start 10 games at left defensive end in 2010 after Jackson suffered a knee injury on Opening Day.

On passing downs, Smith was often relieved by Wallace Gilberry. Allen Bailey is the leading candidate to fill Gilberry’s sub-package role after seeing his play-time increase as a rookie late last season.

Also competing with Pitoitua for a reserve role will be Brandon Bair, Jerome Long and Ethan Johnson.

Bair made the Chiefs roster as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon last season, but has yet to make his NFL debut. Long recently joined the team as a seventh-round draft pick and Johnson as a rookie free agent.

Veteran Amon Gordon is versatile and could also factor into the mix, but saw the majority of his play-time as an interior defensive lineman last season.

A native of Samoa, Pitoitua entered the NFL in 2008 as an undrafted rookie out of Washington State. He’s played in 22 career games and recorded 22 tackles with a sack.

Pitoitua recorded 19 tackles and a sack last season for the Jets, but does carry some durability concerns after missing all of 2010 with a torn Achilles tendon. He also missed two games with a knee injury last year.

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