Former Cardinals DT Zach Kerr can make history in Super Bowl LVI

Feb 3, 2022, 12:04 PM
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) outruns Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach K...

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) outruns Arizona Cardinals defensive end Zach Kerr (92) after a catach during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

(AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Defensive tackle Zach Kerr’s season as an Arizona Cardinal ended after a Wild Card game in Los Angeles when he was inactive for a 34-11 loss on Jan. 17.

Less than a full month later on Feb. 13, Kerr will have a second ending to his season also at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, this time in a Cincinnati Bengals uniform and playing for the Lombardi Trophy.

He and teammate Damion Square can be the first to finish the playoffs on a Super Bowl team after beginning the postseason as a member of a different team.

This is possible because the NFL Players Association and NFL Management Council created new policies after the pandemic hit that allowed unlimited practice squad signings to accommodate any positive COVID-19 tests that occurred prior to a team’s game.

The rules this postseason allowed for teams who win their playoff game to potentially sign and keep players activated from the practice squad. It also meant teams who lost would send players back to the practice squad, making them available to any remaining teams who needed another player.

Arizona elevated Kerr from the practice squad before its playoff game against the Rams with defensive linemen J.J. Watt and Jordan Phillips not completely healthy. Though Kerr was listed as an inactive player before kickoff, that elevation blocked the Bengals from claiming him on gameday. But once the Cardinals lost to the Rams, ending their season, Kerr was defaulted back to the practice squad, which allowed him to join a new team.

“When you get elevated on the active roster, you can’t get poached off the practice squad,” Kerr told CBS Sports reporter Jonathan Jones. “So obviously [the Cardinals] were confident in them winning that week.”

Last year, former Cardinals offensive lineman Jared Veldheer had a chance to be the first player to play for multiple teams in the playoffs. After losing with the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round, Green Bay signed Veldheer to the practice squad, but he was never elevated to the Packers roster after landing on the COVID-19 reserve.

This season, Square officially became the first player to appear for two playoff teams in one postseason, playing for the Las Vegas Raiders against the Bengals in the Wild Card round. He was signed by Cincinnati following the loss.

Both Square and Kerr will have played for three total teams this season.

Kerr’s season began with the San Francisco 49ers. After playing four games through eight weeks, the 49ers waived him, allowing the Cardinals to pick him up. He played in three regular season games with Arizona.

After a win against Chicago in Week 13, the Cardinals sent Kerr back to the practice squad, holding onto him all the way into the playoffs. Though he was elevated and did not dress for a single snap in the Wild Card loss, Kerr was back on the practice squad and eventually signed by the Bengals.

He has since played 29 snaps for Cincinnati in wins over the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs.

On Sunday, Kerr and the Bengals defeated the Chiefs to win the AFC Championship game. With a Super Bowl appearance against the Rams, he would be alone in history by playing against the same opponent twice in the same postseason.

While transitioning to a different playbook seems to be a massive challenge, Kerr has been able to fit in and help Cincinnati on the defensive line.

“If you play long enough, you know certain fronts, they just have different names,” Kerr said. “… Once you learn those words, it’s pretty much the same.”

No player has ever had a second chance after losing once in the playoffs, but on Super Bowl Sunday, Kerr might get the opportunity.

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