According to OvertheCap.com, with Tuesday’s looming start of NFL free agency for the 2014 season, the Kansas City Chiefs currently find themselves about $9.6 million under the $133 million dollar salary cap, placing them 22nd among the 32 NFL teams.
For comparison, the Oakland Raiders have the most cap space (about $63.7 million under) while Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry “Who needs a GM when I’m around?” Jones, practically bankrupted his billion-dollar franchise cap-wise and they have a WHOPPING $639,057 left under the cap to rank dead-last in cap space bucks to spend.
Ten million bucks isn’t much to work with and that doesn’t include the fact that about half of that money will have to go to their six draft choices this spring. So it would make sense for KC to try and free up some cap space by renegotiating contracts with current players and then target some free agents that they can afford.
The problem with renegotiating contracts is that the team is merely pushing their cap space hell off until a future year, but if you’re only doing it with one, two, or maybe three players, the cost isn’t too prohibitive.
Chiefs fans probably shouldn’t expect any big splashes in free agency by head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey. Instead, look for a lot of deals like they did on Tuesday when they re-signed linebacker Frank Zombo, a high-quality back-up and special teams standout. You could see them try to bring back starting inside linebacker Akeem Jordan as a cost-effective starter as well as cornerback Quinton Demps.
According to several sources around the NFL, it looks as though tackle Branden Albert will be signing a contract with the Miami Dolphins as soon as free agency officially starts on Tuesday (at 3 p.m. CT), and there are reports that the New York Jets are wooing guard Jon Asamoah. If both players leave, the team will need to add depth to their offensive line for sure. In addition, ESPN’s Adam Teicher seems to think that Dexter McCluster has played his last game in a Chiefs jersey.
Here are a couple of things the Chiefs are probably working on right now before free agency begins:
- Renegotiate Eric Berry’s contract. The Chiefs loved having their Pro Bowl safety getting back to form after his devastating knee injury in 2011, but Berry’s contract is insane right now. He was drafted under the old rookie compensation system and this is the year that KC has to pay the piper. Berry is scheduled to count $11.6 million against the cap, but the Chiefs could free up millions of room by renegotiating Berry’s contract. They would have the security of knowing their Pro Bowl safety will be around for four or five more seasons and Berry could take home a large signing bonus for his own financial security while giving his team the cap space to sign better players.
- If Alex Smith and Justin Houston are franchise players, sign them to long-term deals. Smith certainly didn’t disappoint in his first season as KC’s quarterback, but he is in the last year of his contract. When Houston began the year healthy and hungry, the Chiefs were historically good on defense and the young linebacker is also in the last year of his rookie contract. If Reid and Dorsey truly believe both guys can be the cornerstones of the offense and defense, then it makes sense to sign them both to contract extensions. Like Berry, they could exchange large signing bonuses for cap-friendly terms that will keep the team competitive over the next few years.
- Make sure Asamoah or Geoff Schwartz stays in town. Pro Football Focus ranks Schwartz and Asamoah as #1-2 for free agent guards, so if they both get away, the Chiefs will have to try and draft one in the first round. Considering they don’t have a second round pick thanks to the Alex Smith trade, taking a guard at #23 and not having another pick until #87 makes taking a guard in the first round dicey. Unless he becomes another Will Shields, of course. Therefore, it makes sense for the Chiefs to keep either Schwartz or Asamoah in town.
Of course, after the flurry of free agent deals that will get made Tuesday, this will all change.
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