Kansas City Chiefs: Salary Cap Issues Loom in 2014

 

Feb 22, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks at a press conference during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For once the Chiefs are relevant in December, which means there has not been a lot of talk about who the Chiefs should draft or sign in free agency. Taking a quick glance forward, the Chiefs may need to capitalize on their opportunity this season because improving the roster for next year may be difficult.

Here’s the basics of the Chiefs situation right now. KC is projected to have a salary cap number of $123.492m for 2014 right now without signing any free agents. That number includes 45 signed players. Early projections have the NFL’s salary cap number at $126.3 million.

This means the Chiefs have a little less than $3 million in cap space to re-sign the following players:

Branden Albert
Tyson Jackson
Jon Asamoah
Dexter McCluster
Kendrick Lewis
Geoff Schwartz
Frank Zombo
Akeem Jordan
Thomas Gafford
Ricky Henry
Jerrell Powe
Kyle Williams
Anthony Toribio
Quintin Demps
Husain Abdullah

Starting to get the picture here?

Kansas City does have a few guys they could cut or renegotiate with to open up some cap space. The cut list includes Dunta Robinson (saves $3.3 million), Chase Daniel (saves $1.4 million), and Donnie Avery (saves $1.35 million). Cutting Robinson almost seems like a given at this point given what he is making and his role on the team.

Daniel’s fate is tied to what the Chiefs think of Tyler Bray‘s development over the last season. If KC thinks Bray can be a solid backup option then paying Daniel would be silly given the financial and team needs heading into the offseason.

Avery may be kept, but KC could do a lot with his $1.35 million cap space. And finding someone to fill Avery’s role for less than $1.35 million is fairly likely. A.J. Jenkins, for example, may be that guy.

Three players – Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, and Alex Smith – could all be in line to help the Chiefs out with cap room, too. Berry’s cap number is the second highest on the team, and he has just one more guaranteed season with the team (Chiefs have a club option on him for 2015). This offseason may be a good time to work out an extension that will also lower Berry’s 2014 cap number. Remember, Berry is still under the old collective bargaining’s rookie cap structure, so the Chiefs could lower that number significantly.

Smith is a free agent after 2014 so an extension is going to be talked about with him no matter what. Otherwise the Chiefs will be on the market for another starting quarterback again after 2014. Smith’s $7.5 million cap number isn’t terrible, but it could be lowered by a little with an extension. He may be even more willing to do it if John Dorsey tells him he plans on using the savings to re-sign Asamoah or find another wide receiver.

Tamba Hali has two years left on his deal and probably is not in line for an extension given his age. However, the Chiefs may work something out with him to lower his cap number. KC could save nearly $5.5 million if they cut him after the season, which would be huge if they want to re-sign Asamoah and Albert. Working something out with Hali to keep him and lower his cap number could end up working for both sides if Hali wants to stay in Kansas City.

If Kansas City does not re-sign any free agents and cuts Robinson, Daniel, and Avery, they’ll have about $9 million in cap space to work with during the 2014 offseason. Much of that cap will be spent on the draft, which is likely where the Chiefs will fill most of their holes, so there room to make a big offseason splash isn’t there right now unless they make some other major moves.

The key here may ultimately be what the Chiefs can do to renegotiate contracts with Berry and Hali. Simply cutting Berry and Hali would save Kansas City an estimate $11.3 million in cap space. Clearly the Chiefs don’t want to cut them, but those are the two players where the Chiefs could save the most money with salary re-negotiations. If Dorsey could convince Berry to defer some of his money down the road by signing him to an extension and restructure Hali’s contract (maybe add a year to his deal?) then the Chiefs could free up $20 million (open space + cuts + Berry/Hali contracts) to improve the team over the winter.

But if Kansas City cannot get those deals done then the Chiefs are going to be in a tough spot when it comes to trying to improve the team without having to let some good players go.

Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

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  • tm1946

    Dred decisions by Dorsey. At some point in time you have to get a mix of cheaper with higher priced players. Chase D is the perfect example, just cannot pay that much to a backup.

    • paul pace

      I agree with you on Daniels. He is not worth what they are paying him right now and he won’t be worth that next year. If they want to keep Daniels they need to convince him to take a substantial pay cut. If he doesn’t want to take a pay cut then they need to release him because, personally, I don’t think he is that solid of a backup. Maybe Bray is the answer, but if not, then they need to search elsewhere .

      • tm1946

        Appreciate it but Chase Daniel the person is not my issue. Or his skill or lack of same. That is to much money for any backup who plays when it does not matter or we are past desperation and someone has to take the snap time.
        Seahawks are a great example, their starting QB is supposedly making under 800,000 per year. Leaves tons of dollars for other positions. I cannot figure how Denver is doing it with Manning’s salary, wonder if the NFL has check them for salary cap issues.

  • paul pace

    Daniels is not worth what they are paying him right now and he won’t be worth that next year. If they want to keep Daniels they need to convince him to take a substantial pay cut. If he doesn’t want to take a pay cut then they need to release him because I don’t think he is a solid backup. Maybe Bray is the answer, but if not, then they need to search elsewhere .

  • Larry Devore

    Chiefs need to work out something to keep Hali.

  • Andy

    The name I haven’t heard, that could take up space will be Albert. Looks to me we will let him walk and move Fisher over. All the other names, Daniels, Robinson are gone. Berry and Hali sound like they are team players and would re-do thier contracts. Smith, I believe will take a little less money to stay where he is finally appriciated. I think he would hate to learn yet another offense. ,

    • Chuck Burrell

      I’m with ya. Alberts gone. Donnie Stevie has played well when asked to step up and fisher impresses me with his mobility, while improving his overall game each week. I don’t mind Duntas veteran presence on the team and I like the depth he provides, but he’s taking a lot of $ to be a playercoach. My guess is smith receives a contract extension which gives some cap room. Not that I think he’s worth it, but I bet Daniel serves his 3 years with the team. I’d prefer Bray learn from both and Reid and become the eventual starter but most of that depends on his maturity. I’d like to see tin man return. He’s been nothing but a team player. But the #1 contract to be addressed is #50. He’ll get signed. I’m not even slightly worried about that.

  • jimfromkcj

    I have been harping on this for a long time. I think Albert definetly has to go. He has already shown that he isn’t going to change positions and he isn’t going to play for less than the going rate. Another player who I don’t think has played up to his salary is Flowers. I really think the answer is to put Hali, Albert and Flowers on the block for picks. It will put our cap numbers a whole lot better and we can lock up maybe two quality players for each of them to the 4 year contracts that are standard at this time. And it would leave us wiggle room to go for a franchise QB in a year or two.

    • PunjabiPete

      I was with you until you said Hali. I can give up Albert, I can THINK about Flowers, You don’t give up one of your top 3 defensive players for an unknown. That’s silly.

      • jimfromkcj

        Pete, the one thing that you have to remember is that if you really want a winning team, you have to view players as parts to a puzzle and not fall in love with any of them. Hali is a one dimensonal player and he is not worth top pay for his position. The only player on defence that is playing better than their salary is DJ. Their are three on offence, Smith, Charles and Davis. Of course that is just my opinion.

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