Willie Gay Jr. Suspended Four Games

Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. has been suspended for the next four games of the 2022 NFL season.

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. has been suspended for the next four games of the 2022 NFL season for a personal conduct policy violation stemming from a January incident in Overland Park, Kansas.

Matt Verderame of Fansided tweeted that Gay “is not expected to appeal” the suspension.

Shortly after the initial incident, Gay’s representative Maxx Lepselter released a statement detailing the events in question:

“Willie was at his sons house visiting. He and the mother got into an argument during which he broke her vacuum. No one was touched, nothing happened beyond broken appliance. She called cops about it and they took him in on misdemeanor destruction of property of less than $1000. Likely just pays a fine and replaces vacuum. Nothing more, all should be resolved today with no further issues.”

In June, Gay agreed to a diversion agreement, summarized here by Jesse Newell of The Kansas City Star:

After the incident, according to Johnson County district court documents, Gay voluntarily obtained a domestic violence assessment, which recommended mental health counseling. The diversion agreement requires Gay to take part in counseling and any other treatment required by his counselor, at Gay’s expense.

The diversion agreement, which Gay signed on June 15, also requires him to submit to district attorney’s office-requested drug and alcohol testing at any time during the 12-month period and pay restitution, costs and fees totaling $544.50.

Further court documents revealed Gay’s ex-partner accused him of pushing her onto a couch where their 3-month-old baby slept, hurling a vacuum across the room and hanging up on police while they were being dispatched, according a petition for a protection order she filed in Johnson County District Court.

Gay would be eligible to return for the Chiefs’ game against the San Francisco 49ers on October 23.

What will the Chiefs do without Willie Gay Jr.?

In Gay’s absence, the Chiefs have a major problem. Through two weeks, Gay and second-year linebacker Nick Bolton have accounted for the tremendous majority of KC’s linebacker snaps. Bolton has played in more than 87% of KC’s defensive snaps, with Gay on the field for more than 79%. Leo Chenal (32 total defensive snaps), Darius Harris (18) and Elijah Lee (eight) are the only linebackers to see the field, combining for significantly fewer snaps combined than Gay’s 111 or Bolton’s 122.

As tweeted by Zack Eisen of Arrowhead Report: “To the football side, Willie Gay is the Chiefs best coverage backer. They are either gonna have to find someone else to guard RBs and TEs or get creative in the ways they do it. Willie has also really improved his run fits this season. Big loss for the next couple weeks.”

From a coverage perspective, Lee or rookie safety Bryan Cook could see more opportunities, but Chenal and Harris don’t seem to be likely fits to stay with running backs or tight ends in space. Gay has a legitimate argument as one of the Chiefs’ least-replaceable defenders, but after two excellent games to kick off his third season, KC will have to find alternatives for the next four weeks.