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Chiefs 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

Brett GeringCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2016

Chiefs 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

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    Image edited by Brett Gering
    Image edited by Brett GeringJamie Squire/Getty Images

    It's never too early to start planning for the future—that especially holds true for the National Football League. 

    Just four days after a second half of disillusionment, Jason Cole of the National Football Post reported that the Kansas City Chiefs were considering extending Alex Smith's contract. In turn, that sparked questions about the club's cap space and which players' services would be dismissed to pave way for the passer's surely sizable deal. 

    In 2012, the Chiefs had heaps of elbow room in terms of cap space. General manager Scott Pioli tried to prove his salary-cap sagacity by constructing a roster full of inexperienced and cheap talent. Frugality brings about a lot of things: discipline, security, barrels of Breaking Bad money, etc. In football, it brings about a 2-14 record.

    Out with the old, in with the new.

    GM John Dorsey subsequently conducted a salary-cap shakedown in 2013, squeezing every last dime out of it that he could manage. And just like that, the Chiefs were promoted back to playoff contenders. 

    You can rest assured that he will repeat history and the Chiefs will enter 2014 hugging the cap ceiling once again. With that said, let's take a look at what the number-crunching GM will study.

     

    Contract details and salary-cap estimates provided by Over the Cap and Spotrac. Player statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required). 

2014 Salary-Cap Overview

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Last year's offseason overhaul amounted to a spending spree, which, as of now, has resulted in Kansas City bunking with the cap ceiling. 

    In the wake of recent signings (namely that of Joe McKnight), John Dorsey's estimated spending limit resides at $3.6 million, and a number of household names are set to hit the free market on March 11. 

    Barring said players becoming nonprofit do-gooders overnight, some of those familiar faces will be leaving town. With that in mind, Dorsey planned ahead by scouring and signing possible replacements for nearly every unrestricted starter. 

     

    Free Agents: 12 (five starters)

    Offensive Spending: $54.9 million

    Defensive Spending: $68.7 million

    Total Liabilities: $125.6 million

    Projected Cap Room: $3.6 million

Quarterback

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Passer rating, like any stat, doesn't always give proper perspective when evaluating a quarterback's performance. That being said, it's usually a fairly accurate indicator.

    In December, with 11 games' worth of offensive chemistry under his belt, Alex Smith's cumulative passer rating was 110. He completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 7.9 yards per attempt while lobbing nine touchdowns to only two picks. Furthermore, according to NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, Smith's career postseason passer rating is 108.6, which makes him the NFL's active leader in the category. 

    It would be somewhat shocking if the Chiefs don't extend his contract at some point. With a year of familiarity under his belt—both with the personnel and Andy Reid's system—odds are that Smith is only going to progress in seasons to come. If that happens to be the case, delaying the inevitable will only break the bank to a greater extent in 2015. 

    Chase Daniel, while still overpaid, solidified his reputation as a worthwhile backup against San Diego. The probability of him being released is next to nonexistent, but if the Chiefs find themselves in a financial bind and Tyler Bray outclasses Daniel throughout camp, Dorsey will at least glance at his numbers. While the second-stringer's dismissal would only create $1.4 million in 2014 cap space, it would spawn $3.8 million in 2015. 

    Reid has a tendency to draft and develop quarterbacks before placing them on the hook for trade bait. However, even if Kansas City plucks one in the later rounds, I wouldn't expect the 2014 (active) depth chart to add any names. 

     

    Signed (Cap Hits): Alex Smith ($7.5 million), Chase Daniel ($3.4 million), Tyler Bray ($498,333)

    Combined Cap Hit: $11.4 million

    Free Agents: N/A

    Potential Cap Casualties (Net Gain): Chase Daniel ($1.4 million)

Running Back

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Paying Jamaal Charles, a 2013 MVP candidate, $4.8 million is borderline criminal, especially considering that Adrian Peterson is due a hefty $14.4 million next season. For all of Scott Pioli's blunders, he made a handful of wise decisions as well. 

    Judging by Pro Football Focus' marks, Anthony Sherman—far and away the site's top-rated fullbackshould have booked a flight to Honolulu with eight of his Pro Bowl teammates this month. 

    Although fumbling issues occasionally resurfaced, the Chiefs definitely got the most bang for their $495,000 with Knile Davis. 

    Next offseason, barring a position change, Cyrus Gray will spar with Joe McKnight for the depth chart's final running back vacancy. Due to his returning abilities, McKnight may already have the upper hand. 

     

    Signed: Jamaal Charles ($4.8 million), Anthony Sherman ($645,000), Knile Davis ($495,000), Cyrus Gray ($570,000), Joe McKnight ($645,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $7.8 million

    Free Agents: N/A

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Wide Receiver

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    Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    Dwayne Bowe posted 150 receiving yards on eight receptions on Wild Card Weekend. Critics' immediate response? Trade him!

    First of all, he definitely had his share of head-hanging moments—all receivers do to an extent. But does the good outweigh the bad? Easily.

    When he secures catches with a head of steam, the first would-be tackler is all but guaranteed to fail. Furthermore, a bevy of 2013's critical first downs—scrambles by Alex Smith, screens to Jamaal Charles, 3rd-and-long wide receiver screens, etc.—wouldn't have come to fruition without his blocking, evidenced by his No. 6 PFF ranking for blocking wideouts.

    Second, it takes two teams to trade. A name like Alshon Jeffery is constantly stamped on hypothetical receiver swaps. Well, hypothetically, that proposal would be passed around and framed in the Chicago Bears' front offices like a comic strip. They're not trading a budding 23-year-old wideout whose highest cap hit is $1.5 million.

    Plus, Kansas City would have to hire a small convoy of dump trucks to unload the heaps of dead money (currently $16.3 million) that it would foot the bill for. 

    As for Dexter McCluster, there's little chance that he'll see the open market. Unless his asking price is ridiculously inflated, the Chiefs would be foolish to let him walk. Although scores of media members have traced his potential departure to Joe McKnight's signing for whatever reason, it's a false narrative at this point. McKnight, if anything, was recruited for returning kicks, which should give Kansas City more leverage in negotiations with Quintin Demps. 

    Whether through the draft and/or free agency, the roster is sure to add more receivers throughout the offseason.

     

    Signed: Dwayne Bowe ($12 million), Donnie Avery ($2.9 million), Junior Hemingway ($495,000), A.J. Jenkins ($1 million), Jerrell Jackson ($420,000), Rashad Ross ($420,000), Fred Williams ($420,000), Frankie Hammond ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $18 million

    Free Agents: Dexter McCluster, Kyle Williams

    Potential Cap Casualties: Donnie Avery ($1.4 million)

Tight End

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Anthony Fasano's 2013 production doesn't warrant 2014's $4.4 million price tag, but releasing him would only free up $1 million in cap space. Being that the veteran was plagued by injuries—a trend that was nonexistent during his time in Miami—it makes sense to retain him in hopes that he returns to form after a healthy offseason. 

    However, if Kansas City deviates from expectations and drafts a first-round tight end (e.g., Eric Ebron), Fasano would become expendable.

    With Travis Kelce on the roster, that scenario probably won't see the light of day, though. Last year's rookie didn't notch a single regular-season snap before being placed on IR. If he fully rebounds from injury, he has the talent to become a legitimate playmaker. 

     

    Signed: Anthony Fasano ($4.4 million), Travis Kelce ($711,826), Sean McGrath ($495,000), Demetrius Harris ($420,000), Dominique Jones ($570,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $6.6 million

    Free Agents: Richard Gordon

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Offensive Tackle

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    At some point over the next couple of months, John Dorsey is going to end a call with Branden Albert's agent, walk out of his office, chuck a milk carton in the trash and flood his morning Cheerios with Red Bull. Given the limited cap room, the left tackle's asking price will double as nightmare fuel for Kansas City's GM.

    Personally, with each passing week, I'm becoming more cynical about Albert's odds of re-signing with the Chiefs. Here's the thing: It's not that Dorsey couldn't pull strings and restructure deals to keep him, it's that two years from now in 2016, Kansas City will be staring at a free-agent class decorated with Pro Bowlers, including Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe. 

    Regardless of whom the Chiefs elect to keep and discard, Dorsey knows that he needs to start prepping for that scenario now. Consequently, he can't handcuff himself by offering mounds of guaranteed money, which is obviously what Albert is looking for. Due to an $11.8 million price tag, franchising him is an afterthought as well. 

    With Eric Fisher waiting in the wings, it's easier to roll the dice and bid farewell to the first-time Pro Bowler. 

    Geoff Schwartz, on the other hand, probably won't be relocating. He's efficient, versatile and, most importantly, affordable. 

     

    Signed: Eric Fisher ($5 million), Donald Stephenson ($754,375), Colin Kelly ($495,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $6.3 million

    Free Agents: Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Guard

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    There's a realistic chance that the duo of starting guards will change in next season's lineup.

    First of all, entering the 2013 season, I was confident that Jeff Allen would be demoted to a backup role. Fourteen starts later...not so much. Only seven guards—and remember, there are 64 league-wide starters at the position—allowed more sacks than Allen's five.

    Last season, PFF ranked him No. 158 of 160 guards. This year, he improved—and I use that in the loosest sense possible—to No. 125 of 144. So, months later, I'm still in the dark in trying to pinpoint the reason for Andy Reid's unwavering loyalty to Allen.

    Youth? Athleticism? Wholesale Fudgsicle hookup? Nineteen weeks in the rearview, and it's still an unsolved mystery. 

    Meanwhile, PFF ranked Allen's competition, Geoff Schwartz (who's officially listed as an offensive tackle), No. 8 of the aforementioned 160 guards. He isn't just consistent: He's adaptable. The veteran recorded snaps at left guard, right guard and right tackle this past season. On the heels of the playoff loss, he told 610 Sports Radio that he's seeking a multi-year contract.

    By all means, pay him. 

    Another strange decision occurred when Schwartz finally cracked the starting lineup—strange only because it was in place of Jon Asamoah and not Allen. Asamoah battled a host of various injuries throughout the year, which might have served as the catalyst for the switch. Regardless, he only forfeited one sack throughout 2013. 

    Cutting Allen would only generate $357,835 of cap space—he'll be back. However, considering last season's distribution of starts, Kansas City could part ways with Schwartz or Asamoah, even though their respective performances have justified re-signing them. 

     

    Signed: Jeff Allen ($1.3 million), Rishaw Johnson ($570,000), Rokevious Watkins ($525,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $2.4 million

    Free Agents: Jon Asamoah, Ricky Henry

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Center

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    In 2013, Rodney Hudson was nothing if not unpredictable. He had rough outings in a few weeks and allowed five sacks on the year. His play was above average excluding those particular showings, though. 

    The same can't be said for Eric Kush.

    As 2013 unfolded, it became increasingly clear that Andy Reid and John Dorsey share a soft spot for athletic linemen who excel in the screen game. The downside to that approach? Athletic linemen, while often better conditioned, are also usually leaner in frame, which doesn't bode well for the aggressive art of run blocking. 

    It's a double-edged sword, and Kush exemplified both sides throughout his rookie season. 

     

    Signed: Rodney Hudson ($1.1 million), Eric Kush ($534,279)

    Combined Cap Hit: $1.7 million

    Free Agents: N/A

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Nose Tackle

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    John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    If I was forced to pick an in-booth analyst to announce every game on my flat screen, I'd choose Mike Mayock for three reasons. One, he owns one of the most knowledgeable football minds within the NFL community. Two, he spends his off-air breaks doing the "lawn mower." Three, he described Dontari Poe as a "340-pound dancing bear." Equally priceless and accurate.

    Overall, Poe resided as PFF's No. 2 nose tackle, and his five sacks headlined the position. The first-time Pro Bowler takes the term "freakish athlete" to the next level—340-pound men aren't designed to pull off the physical feats that he does on a down-to-down basis. 

    Jaye Howard, like Geoff Schwartz, is filed under a different position than the one he primarily plays. Jerrell Powe alternated between the Chiefs roster and the unemployment line throughout the season. He played well when given the opportunity, though. 

    Kansas City will likely comb the market for another bargain-bin backup. 

     

    Signed: Dontari Poe ($3.1 million), Jaye Howard ($570,000), Chas Alecxih ($420,000), Dominique Hamilton ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $4.5 million

    Free Agents: Jerrell Powe

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Defensive End

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    Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Due to a number of factors, Tyson Jackson has a better chance of leading the league in sacks than returning to the Chiefs. 

    If you consider that Allen Bailey lined up for 56 fewer snaps, his and Jackson's 2013 stats roughly resided in the same ballpark. While No. 94 logged four sacks to Bailey's one, the third-year backup prompted 19 hurries to Jackson's eight. 

    The difference? Bailey's salary was $6.5 million (90 percent) cheaper. In fact, even if you reclassify Jaye Howard as a defensive end, Jackson raked in $2.7 million more than his five positional peers combined—$500,000 more than the position's total 2014 cap hit. 

    A younger, cheaper Bailey was every bit as productive (if not more so) last year, and because of that, he could crack 2014's starting lineup. Unless the Chiefs draft somebody like Stephon Tuitt, it's doubtful that any big-name defensive ends will purchase Kansas City real estate. 

     

    Signed: Mike DeVito ($4.9 million), Allen Bailey ($808,986), Mike Catapano ($520,281), Brandon Moore ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $6.7 million

    Free Agents: Tyson Jackson, Anthony Toribio

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Linebacker

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    There's nothing to say that hasn't already been said about Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson (who was, despite grading out as PFF's top AFC inside linebacker, somehow snubbed in 2014 Pro Bowl voting). Houston treats blockers like rag dolls, Hali is a blindside bull, and Johnson moonlights as an incoming interior missile.

    They make up arguably the best trio of linebackers in today's game. 

    The pleasant surprise was Akeem Jordan, whom PFF ranked No. 12 of 125 inside linebackers. Last year's offseason pickup didn't take the field as much as his starting cohorts—coaches tend to swap strong-side thumpers for nickelbacks when facing pass-oriented offenses like Denver's—but he left an impression when his number was called. 

    Kansas City's starting four should remain intact, while the future of second-stringer Frank Zombo will hinge on the cap situation. 

     

    Signed: Justin Houston ($837,812), Tamba Hali ($11.5 million), Derrick Johnson ($4.3 million), Nico Johnson ($624,500), Dezman Moses ($570,000), James-Michael Johnson ($570,000), Josh Martin ($495,000), Alonzo Highsmith ($420,000), Jordan Campbell ($420,000), Ridge Wilson ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $20.1 million

    Free Agents: Akeem Jordan, Frank Zombo, Robert James

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Cornerback

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Cornerback presents the most intriguing set of circumstances on Kansas City's roster. Brandon Flowers, despite being featured in a defense devoid of safety help, is one of the more revered corners in all of football. And that's where the assurances end (aside from Dunta Robinson's eventual release). 

    Robinson's contract proved to be the league's worst secondary signing of the season. Taking every snap into account (including postseason), opposing quarterbacks combined to average a 130 passer rating when targeting him—a perfect score is 158.3. That, in turn, led to the corner recording double-digit snaps in just six games. 

    Prior to the agreement, Dorsey obviously had a few lingering doubts as well. Robinson's contract is back-loaded with only $4 million guaranteed—half of which is now paid off—making it a no-brainer to cut him if he underachieved in 2013. 

    Marcus Cooper and Sean Smith were beleaguered by the same erratic trend. Among corners with a minimum of 300 snaps (110), just 14 touted a lower completion rate than Cooper and only seven bested Smith.

    The problem? When they were burned, they were cremated. Cooper's 17.9 yards allowed per completion served as the third most among the 110 corners, while Smith's average of 15.4 slotted him at No. 12.

    Assuming the Chiefs resolve their free safety dilemma, the latter set of numbers are bound to decline. Keep in mind that Cooper just started learning the position two years ago. Also, if Sanders Commings makes a healthy 2014 debut, his presence will add another layer of valuable depth. 

    One way or another, upcoming cornerback transactions are sure to draw the local spotlight. 

     

    Signed: Brandon Flowers ($10.5 million), Sean Smith ($5.8 million), Marcus Cooper ($495,000), Dunta Robinson ($5.3 million), Sanders Commings ($556,878), Kevin Rutland ($570,000), DeMarcus Van Dyke ($645,000), Vernon Kearney ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $24.2 million

    Free Agents: N/A

    Potential Cap Casualties: Dunta Robinson ($3.3 million)

Safety

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    ACL rehabilitation derailed two of Eric Berry's first three seasons. Entering 2013 fully recovered, the perennial Pro Bowler gradually morphed into the hyped bone-bruising ball hawk who was responsible for a three-year reign of SEC terror. 

    By the end of the year, he registered four sacks, two forced fumbles, two recoveries, three interceptions and two touchdowns. The man sniffed out the ball like some kind of hyperactive, pony-fearing bloodhound. 

    The play of his partner in crime Kendrick Lewis was the polar opposite, though. The fourth-year starter misjudged angles, prematurely jumped routes and attempted failed arm tackles on a weekly basis.

    The Chiefs can't (figuratively) afford to replace Lewis with another run-of-the-mill journeyman, either. That development would, if nothing else, paint ear-to-ear grins on the faces of Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, which is why free safety should claim pole position on the club's offseason to-do list.

     

    Signed: Eric Berry ($11.6 million), Ron Parker ($645,000), Jerron McMillian ($570,000), Malcolm Bronson ($420,000)

    Combined Cap Hit: $13.3 million

    Free Agents: Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps, Husain Abdullah, Bradley McDougald

    Potential Cap Casualties: N/A

Special Teams

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Reading between the lines of punting statistics rarely deciphers anything worthwhile. Dustin Colquitt booted the fourth-most attempts (89) in the league, and while he finished No. 1 in punts inside of the 20-yard line (38), he also finished No. 2 in touchbacks (11). 

    This much is true: Nobody with the gift of free will is going to skim through 16 NFL games to study 89 punts. That being said, any Chiefs devotee with a set of honest eyeballs will concede that Colquitt was slightly less efficient this year—2013 probably wasn't quite the encore that he envisioned. However, at the end of the day, he's still one of the top-tier punters in the sport.

    Ryan Succop is more or less an average kicker. This past season, he was markedly accurate inside of 49 yards, misfiring on only three of 27 such attempts. But his kicking woes stemmed north of that, as he managed to slice the uprights on just one of his four 50-plus-yard attempts. In all likelihood, he'll be pushed by mild competition throughout camp and ultimately remain Kansas City's kicker of choice. 

    Thomas Gafford, one of the most trustworthy long snappers in the league, will be re-signed. His base salary should hover around the $725,000 mark, and the minimum salary benefit will minimize his cap hit to an even greater extent.

     

    Signed: Dustin Colquitt ($3.8 million), Ryan Succop ($2.7 million)

    Combined Cap Hit: $6.5 million

    Free Agents: Thomas Gafford

    Potential Cap Casualties: Ryan Succop ($982,500)

     

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